What makes a hero?

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WHAT was shocking with Morgan Tsvangirai’s passing on was that there were some Zimbabweans who appeared to be convinced that the late MDC-T leader had to be declared a national hero.
Not only that.
He had to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre alongside Dr Joshua Nkomo, Dr Simon Muzenda, Cde Cephas Msika and Cde John Nkomo, among other illustrious revolutionary leaders, so they thought.
These gallant sons of the soil were devoted to the values of the nationalism to the extent they were prepared to sacrifice even their lives to defeat colonialism and everything it entailed.
This was not so with Tsvangirai, right from the very beginning.
He is on record to have chickened out of the armed struggle because he claimed as the family’s bread winner, he would not put his life at risk.
This failed attempt, plus his participation in trade union activities, showed he was indeed a political animal of some sorts.
Unfortunately, he became a gullible disciple to the pretence of his former colonial masters.
The British were never happy with a Government led by a former liberation movement, which they feared would restrict their access to the country’s resources.
Tsvangirai was persuaded to lead a political party which would further the interests of the British.
That is how the MDC was formed by a man whom some believe should have been declared a national hero.
The veteran trade unionist could not resist the substantial funding by the Westminster Foundation of the British and other Western capitalist foundations.
This way, Tsvangirai had reduced himself to a virtual puppet, a course at variance with the goals of the armed struggle.
And yet history should have taught Tsvangirai that colonialists would never let their interests be subordinate to those of their subjects.
That is why they institutionalised racism to make sure blacks would accept the blasphemy that whites were a superior species.
As an African movement, the MDC lacked any meaningful ideological content.
What were advanced as ‘human rights’ were those defined by the British and their American cousins.
When Tsvangirai sided with the British in criticising the Land Reform Programme as a breach of human rights, he had confirmed the unredeemable extent to which he had been won over by colonialists.
Definitely there was nothing heroic about his approval of some strange human rights preached by the West including acceptance of homosexuality.
The pat on the back he received from some Western-backed civil rights organisations was confirmation he had become an outright rebel.
If all these were not enough to disqualify Tsvangirai as a national hero, the veteran trade unionist had a little more up his sleeve.
He was not ashamed to come up openly in support of the illegal sanctions imposed by the West, following the Land Reform Programme.
Surely the suffering endured by the indigenes through loss of jobs due to factory closures and the general lowering of standards in schools and hospitals can never be associated with a hero.
True, as suffering intensified, some people began to protest against the Government and the support base of Tsvangirai began to grow.
Yet this is not to say his cause was justified, for the real beneficiaries were the colonialists who would pull the strings in the unlikely event that Tsvangirai formed a Government.
But for a blackman to have a sizable number of supporters is no qualification to be declared a national hero.
It is your track record that counts.
Bishop Abel Muzorewa had a substantial number of supporters when he formed the first black Government.
Still the puppet in him could never be obliterated.
That is why there was no hue and cry that he be buried at the Heroes’ Acre.
Today we are faced with a similar situation.
However, what cannot be denied is that Tsvangirai enhanced multi-party democracy by leading a party which gave the once predominant ZANU PF a good run for their money.
At times this pluralistic political environment has degenerated into a fierce dog-eat-dog affair as the MDC repeatedly disappointed its creators by suffering heavy defeats at the polls.
But this seems to have demonstrated Tsvangirai’s resilience as he never gave up.
His constant brushes with the law in his attempt to bring the country to the attention of the so-called international community has been interpreted as bravery by his supporters.
No wonder, perhaps, they wanted him declared a national hero.
Regrettably, however, going by what was witnessed at his funeral in Buhera, Tsvangirai seems to have bequeathed a legacy of violence to his party supporters.
No doubt, Trudy Stevenson, Elton Mangoma and Thokhozani Khupe — oh by the way Tendai Biti as well — can testify.
May his dear soul rest in peace!

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