The Case for National Hero Status for Morgan Tsvangirai – Open Letter to His Excellency President Mnangagwa

Many patriotic and peace-loving Zimbabweans were shocked by the news of the passing of the leader of the official opposition, MDC-T, Morgan Tswangirai.

While the nation mourns the passing of this brave compatriot, this is a moment to reflect and take stock of the nature of our national politics and national discourse. Perhaps one of the best ways of remembering Tsvangirai is to say: never again will our political differences mean that we are mortal enemies as citizens. Instead, our political differences must be seen as a healthy and necessary difference of opinion on the direction and future of our beloved Zimbabwe.

Sadly, our nation is presently very polarized and this cannot be allowed to continue. A people that solves political differences through violence–that has so often resulted in the loss of life–is a sick people. And we are presently a sick people in desperate need of visionary leadership and healing. This work has to begin in earnest, and your ascent to our country’s highest office has paved the way.

Mr President, I appeal to you to help bring this nation together by granting Mr Tsvangirai a hero’s burial at the National Heroes Acre. This single gesture while not a magic wand towards nation building, healing and reconciliation, would certainly go a long way in signalling your commitment to a new era in our national politics. It would also be a strong signal that the national hero status is not a preserve of one political party. It would be a strong signal that the Heroes Acre is a place for all Zimbabweans befitting this status.

Zimbabwe needs leadership that will help us rise above our real and imagined political differences, particularly in painful moments such as this. Zimbabwe needs leadership that talks peace and unity and is seen to walk the talk of peace and unity.

Show us, Mr President that you are a leader of all Zimbabweans–and not just a leader of a political party. Statesmanship and nation building often involve making difficult choices–but the fruits of these are bequeathed to posterity.

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