DAI's truly national hero-selection process

President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party have often been accused of turning the National Heroes Acre into a party burial site.


Despite these misgivings, no organisation has however; taken as much initiative to show how heroes could be selected without attracting controversy, as has the Democracy Advocate Initiative.

The organisation, whose main focus is fighting for total democracy in the country, recently came up with the project “My Hero”, through which it seeks to involve the grassroots in selecting district, provincial and national heroes. The expected outcome will be heroes that truly worked for the good of their communities, subjects and the country.

Shepherd Chidhakwa, who is the DAI director, said the new project’s thrust was to honour and celebrate “deserving” heroes and heroines, after Zanu (PF)’s pollution of the current process, where selection is done by a cabal of Mugabe’s cronies, resulting in those not belonging to the former ruling party not getting their due recognition.

“We also want to promote national cohesion, where heroes are selected not because of their liberation war credentials of political involvement, but also for their work in the social, economic and governance fields,” said Chidhakwa.

“The number of our political icons and civil society leaders who have been awarded international recognition, yet they have failed to find honour in their own country is worrying and to us, no foreign award should be compared to say, the Nehanda Award.”

The DAI initiative would see each district in the country participate in the selection of its heroes. District winners would have their names put in the provincial pool and then national awards. Five national winners would then be conferred the national people’s hero status, in an event that would be carried out every five years.

The national awards have, after an online poll on the group’s Facebook page, been named after fallen Zimbabwean heroes like Lookout Masuku, Tonderayi Ndira, Mbuya Nehanda, Joshua Nkomo, Mama MaFuyane, Sally Mugabe and Solomon Mujuru.

“This will be a process wholly owned by the people. Our aim is to give the national hero-selection process a truly national character because the current one is partisan and meant to reward only people from one party.”

Among the guidelines for selection in the DAI initiative, the candidate should have performed their heroic deed within the last decade of selection and promoted democratic values and pursued a just and caring society.

The Zimbabwean initiative will be launched in Harare next month, alongside an anti-corruption initiative.

“We want to promote democracy beyond mere election form. We want to pursue transparency and accountability in our country for a just society,” added Chidhakwa.

“The national level awards will also help honour the legacy of our fallen heroes in a process that lets the people decide on their genuine heroes, judging them on what they have done for their country and communities, not just one party.”

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