By Daniel Chigundu
Zanu PF legislators refused to observe a moment of silence for the late Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa who was declared a national hero.
Dabengwa, who broke ranks with Zanu PF during the time of Robert Mugabe, died on his way back home from India where he had gone for treatment.
The motion to observe the moment of silence was first raised by Dangamvura Chikanga legislator Prosper Mutseyami who said “on a point of order. Thank you Madam Speaker. I see in the House it is just business as usual and we have not noted the passing on of the Black Russian, Hon. Dumiso Dabengwa.
“Are we not recognizing that hero so that we give him a moment of silence in appreciation of what he did?
Speaking on the same issue Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said there was nothing that should prevent Parliament from observing the moment of silence since the outstanding issues (the family speaking and the Government issuing a statement) have been done on the matter.
“Madam Speaker, I say so because my father was Zapu, he was in Zambia, we grew up with him, S. K. Moyo and Mutinhiri. This is a serious issue which deserves that, not only was he a war veteran but he was a Member of this House too. He was a Member of this House of Assembly and all of us will die one day.
“It is only important that when one of us dies, even if you do not recognise his hero status but let us recognise that one of our Parliamentarians is no more,” he said.
Honourable Mliswa added that failure to honour the late Dabengwa will haunt Parliament and the President in future especially in terms of tribal cards.
“There is a rift, the failure for this Parliament to comply with what it says, will create problems which are unforeseen. The aspect of the tribal card will be raised and we do not want that.
“Therefore, Madam Speaker, with your indulgence; we seek for a minute of silence to be observed because the two issues, the Speaker spoke about have been met.
“We are putting the President in a very difficult situation. He was a Member of this House and why can we not give him the respect that he deserves,” he said.
However, in her response to the issue, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi told legislators that Parliament does not honour heroes who are not legislators.
“Honourable Members I think we must all know, as from today that we do not observe a minute of silence on National Heroes if they are not Members of Parliament,” she said.
Opposition legislators, however, stood up and observed a moment of silence while Zanu PF legislators remained sitting.
Like the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Dabengwa is not going to be buried at the National Heroes Acre as he is said to have had told his relatives that he prefers to be buried at his rural home.