The Zanu-PF-led government Tuesday defied its own lockdown rules against the spread of Covid-19 when it allowed over a thousand mourners to gather for a memorial service held in honour of late party loyalist and national hero Absolom Sikhosana at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium.
Covid-19 regulations restrict public gatherings, including funerals to less than 50 people.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa unilaterally declared Sikhosana a national hero following his death on Friday morning at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH).
Sikhosana was acting Zanu PF chairperson for Bulawayo province who had been suffering from prostate cancer and arthritis.
More than 1 000 people, mostly Zanu PF supporters, were bussed to White City Stadium for the memorial service.
The mourners were accommodated in large tents pitched on both Arena A and B of the stadium.
Some of the people were also seated in the main stadium where social distancing, which is now a requirement in public spaces, was not observed and they did not have hands sanitised while entering the ground.
Speaking at the memorial service, the Bulawayo Provincial Minister, Judith Ncube said Sikhosana deserved the national hero status.
“Cde Sikhosana fought a good fight and duly deserved to be accorded hero status,” she said.
“I worked with Cde Sikhosana since 1981 until today and it was a blessing to have worked with him all these years. On the day he was admitted, he called me asking for assistance as he was struggling to get out of his car,” said Ncube.
Ncube said due to Covid-19, Sikhosana was supposed to be buried in Bulawayo, but changes were made by senior Zanu PF officials and he will now be buried at the National Shrine in Harare this Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, Sikhosana’s body was flown to his farm in Inyathi.
The memorial service was attended by senior Zanu PF officials including political commissar, Victor Matemadanda, Politburo member Angeline Masuku, acting Zanu PF Secretary for Youth Affairs Tendai Chirau and the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa.