BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA MATABELELAND South proportional representative MP Sipho Mokone says the failure by government to confer a national hero status on the late playwright, actor and theatre guru Continue-loving (Cont) Mhlanga has angered the region.
Founder of Amakhosi Theatre, Mhlanga succumbed to pneumonia last month at the United Bulawayo Hospitals.
He was 64.
Mhlanga, who was buried at his rural home in Lupane, was granted a State-assisted funeral, thereby triggering debate on marginalisation.
Many people believed Mhlanga, just like Oliver Mtukudzi, deserved a national hero status.
Last Thursday, Mokone took Mhlanga’s hero status debate to Parliament arguing that the arts guru was among a handful of artistes in Zimbabwe that deserve national recognition.
“The people of Matabeleland are very disappointed; they deserve answers to this,” Mokone said.
“They feel that the state assisted funeral he was given was not enough.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
“My prayer now is that government reconsiders its decision as regards the hero status of Mhlanga.”
She said Mhlanga made great contribution to the development of the arts and media industry in the country over the last four decades.
“Cont Mhlanga was just not a mere Zimbabwean, he played a key role…from 1982 when he founded Amakhosi Theatre,” said Mokone.
“He groomed a number of artists that we are seeing to this day.
“He was a shareholder at SykzMetro and Keyona TV, but to the surprise of many people in Matabeleland, Mhlanga was not accorded any hero status.
“If I can juxtapose with the likes of Simon Chimbetu, Oliver Mtukudzi, Soul Jah Love, surely the work that Mhlanga did for this country cannot be swept under the carpet.”
In a statement after granting Mhlanga with a State assisted funeral, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said this was in recognition of the artist’s great achievements as an internationally acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and creative director.
Reacting to Mokone, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi said provinces should have recommended Mhlanga’s hero status, before promising a ministerial statement on the matter.
“With regard to the issue which you have raised, I think we will just convey the message to the ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage since you have said that you require them to come with a Ministerial Statement regarding why Cont Mhlanga was not accorded a heroes status,” Gezi said.
“As to my knowledge, I am sure the people of Matabeleland or the people whom he was living with are the ones who were supposed to ask for the hero’s status.
“Oliver Mtukudzi was given a hero status because of the province where he came from. What I am trying to highlight to you is the process, I will ask the Honourable minister to come up with a Ministerial Statement.
“You must know that the Ministry is not the one that gives the hero status.”
Last year Mnangagwa conferred a liberation hero status to the late Zimdancehall musician Soul Jah Love at a time he denied Chief Vezi Maduna of Filabusi, Matabeleland South province, national hero status a move that triggered another debate on marginalisation of the region.