BY Everson Mushava
Munyaradzi Banda, a former Zanu PF Central Committee member who was recently suspended on allegations of working with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to topple President Robert Mugabe, said Midzi felt betrayed by the party leadership.
He was speaking at a church service at the late Midzi’s Mt Pleasant home before his burial at Glen Forest Cemetery outside Harare yesterday in the afternoon. Banda said Midzi was one of Mugabe’s most loyal cadres who served Zanu PF diligently and was, therefore, devastated by his suspension from the only party he had known all his life.
“I can confirm that he died because of trauma caused by his suspension,” Banda said.
“Before he died, I had tea with him and he asked, ‘with the loyalty with which we served Zanu PF, is this the way we should be treated?’”
The former Mines minister was found dead in his car on Tuesday at his farm in Beatrice in a suspected case of suicide.
Police recovered poisonous substances and sleeping tablets in the locked car. His death came barely a month after he was suspended from Zanu PF in the on-going purge against Mujuru loyalists. So far, more than 141 party bigwigs have succumbed to the political purge.
Midzi was not accorded any hero status, but got a State-assisted funeral.
Banda said although Midzi was denied national hero status, that would not take away his nationalistic credentials. The former central committee member said the former Energy minister was a gallant party cadre who rose through the party ranks and was very loyal to Mugabe, the reason why he was devastated when he was suspended.
“I am not afraid to say the truth. I will say it and those who write like Ibbo Mandaza should write this. Cde Midzi was tried, tested and grilled in a hard oven of politics. He was very loyal to President Mugabe,” Banda said.
Banda said he was surprised by the level of divisions in Zanu PF that resulted in the party failing to honour Midzi with national heroes’ status.
“He is a national hero. I am surprised that people like Edgar Tekere [who once broke away from Zanu PF to form an opposition party, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement] were forgiven and buried at the National Heroes’ Acre. But Midzi, on suspension only, we fail to forgive him,” he said.
“Yes, we bury you [Midzi] there [Glen Forest], there is nothing wrong, but history will always tell that you are a national hero.”
Banda urged Zanu PF to think critically and reflect on how divisive politics started. Banda said he was a devout Christian who did not fear death and would not worship any person, except God.
“I have read the Bible several times, the phrase ‘fear not’ is written 360 times, and I will not fear anyone, except God who created us and has the power to give life and take it. I am a man and a half,” he said.
Banda said there was no conflict over the control of Midzi’s death by Zanu PF factions, saying they had already planned the very day that he died that he would be buried at Glen Forest Cemetery, unless something else came up.
Harare Provincial Affairs minister Miriam Chikukwa, who was representing Mugabe said people should not use Midzi’s death to settle personal scores, but rather, his death should serve to unite even those who no longer saw each other eye to eye.
Chikukwa said Midzi’s death should act as a reminder to politicians that they were not immortal. She, however, said Midzi was still the MP for Epworth, as his suspension did not mean he would lose the seat, insinuating the former minister should not have been devastated by his suspension.
“The death of Midzi should give politicians the realisation that death is inevitable to everyone,” Chikukwa said.
Most of those either expelled or suspended over their links to Mujuru attended, but Mujuru, People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa were not present.
Among those who attended the burial included Ray Kaukonde, former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and former Lands deputy minister Tendai Savanhu.
Former Zanu PF Harare deputy chair Christopher Chigumba also attended alongside former central committee member Noah Mangondo, former State Minister in Mujuru’s Office Sylvester Nguni, former Health deputy minister Paul Chimedza, and former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa.
At the burial site, youths lead by former Harare provincial youth leader Jim Kunaka were chanting a song “ndimi makauraya [you are the ones who killed him]”, insinuating that foul play was suspected in Midzi’s death.