By Nkosana Dlamini
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has distanced President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the controversial awarding of a National Heroes Day medal to the First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa and a handful individuals linked to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Following the awarding of an Order Of The Great Zimbabwe Gold Award, private daily, NewsDay carried an editorial which accused the national leader of brazen favouritism.
In a statement Wednesday, Charamba took pain to explain how awards were being conferred on citizens, hinting that the honour shall, in future, be extended to non-citizens.
He said the decision on who to honour lied with cabinet on the “recommendations of its Committee on Honours which is chaired by Vice President, Honourable Dr C.G.D.N Chiwenga”.
Added Charamba, “Cabinet has decided in its collective wisdom that among those deserving to be honoured at this year’s National Heroes Ceremony, be Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, who happens to be the spouse of the President.
“The focus was strictly on her philanthropic and cultural work and its impact on our society.
“As NewsDay will itself attest, the First Lady’s efforts have touched countless lives and communities in so short a space of time. Above all, her calling is humanitarian; it is not political.
“As NewsDay knows or should know, the First Lady renounced her political role as a Member of Parliament for Chirumhanzu/Zibagwe, at a public meeting held in Mvuma in 2018. Therefore, she has strictly trimmed her role and work to that of First Lady of our Nation.”
Going forward, said Charamba, “such honours and awards would be a permanent feature of our National Heroes Commemorations, the prime idea being to motivate and trigger a spirit of sacrifice, excellence and service to society”.
“In the same vein, these honours and awards will be open to all, regardless of epoch, colour, creed, station, gender, tribe, region or even nationality.”
The Zanu PF led government has also been slammed for monopolising the process through which outstanding citizens are conferred with national or provincial hero statuses.
This has seen the status often conferred on politicians linked to Zanu PF or those who have kept their loyalty to the country’s rulers.