President Emmerson Mnangagwa was forced into an embarrassing U-turn on Monday after a row erupted inside Zanu PF over the hero status of the late Major General (Rtd) Godfrey Chanakira.
Chanakira, who the permanent secretary in vice president Constantino Chiwenga’s office, died at a Harare hospital on Thursday.
During a visit to the Chanakira family on Saturday, Chiwenga said “his works in service of his country are there for all to see” in response to a request from the family that he be declared a “national hero”.
But in a shock announcement on Sunday, Mnangagwa announced that Chanakira would be accorded a “state-assisted funeral” – an honour below that of even a provincial hero.
Zanu PF insiders said Chiwenga, a retired general, led the push against Mnangagwa’s decision and was backed by military colleagues.
In a shock about turn on Monday, chief cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said Mnangagwa had now declared Chanakira a national hero “after further consultations”.
The former minister Jonathan Moyo said Mnangagwa’s initial decision had been “inexplicable and shocking.”
The U-turn will emphasise Chiwenga’s enduring power in the Zanu PF leadership matrix after he helped Mnangagwa to power through a military coup in November 2017.
The men have had a falling out since, and Chiwenga is reportedly angling to grab the Zanu PF leadership on or before a congress scheduled for December.
Meanwhile, former finance minister Chris Kuruneri and war veterans Francis Komboni Gondo and Charles Savanhu who recently died have been declared provincial heroes.
Chief Denis Ndlovu Nhlamba of Garanyemba in Gwanda, who died on Saturday, has been accorded a state-assisted funeral. ZimLive