There was yet more drama at the burial of the late national hero, ZAPU President and ZIPRA intelligence chief Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, after his widow, Zodwa Dabengwa (known affectionately as MaKhumalo) insisted that opposition leader MDC Nelson Chamisa should be allowed to speak.
Chamisa was not on the list of scheduled speakers and was even denied a seat in the VIP tent at the White City stadium memorial held on Friday, the day before the burial.
However, at MaKhumalo’s insistence, Chamisa gave an impromptu speech in which he emotionally extolled the virtues of Dr Dabengwa Dabengwa and promised to honour all the ideals he had stood for.
Chamisa finished his speech by firing a salvo at President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputies for failing to grace the occasion despite the fact that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa saw it fit to send emissaries.
“Is it not a sad indictment that we have (South African) President Cyril Ramaphosa sending his emissaries, yet in this country we have our own vice President and even President who is not available to mourn with us?”, Chamisa said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba had earlier told State media that the President would not attend in the spirit of respecting the bereaved family’s request for privacy.
“If a national hero’s family accepts the designation of national hero but opts for private burial, immediately the State President cannot participate directly except through delegated authority.
“The moment the President gets to that, it means we take over and that breaches the privacy and control of the family. So he will be represented at an appropriate level,” said Mr Charamba.
Dabengwa, who died on 23 May aged 79, was laid to rest at Emanxeleni, Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North, on 1 June.
Watch Nelson Chamisa’s speech below: