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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Thursday chided Zimbabweans who fled the country and sought asylum abroad when political hostilities broke out at the turn of the century, leading to a decade-long economic crisis.

The Zanu PF leader claimed that London had appealed to his government to help repatriate Zimbabweans stranded in the United Kingdom after their asylum claims were rejected.

Mugabe made the revelation while delivering one of his customarily long addresses during the burial of late national hero, Major General Eliah Bandama, who succumbed to cancer in Harare last Friday at the age of 56.

The burial was attended by thousands of mourners, the majority of them supporters of his ruling Zanu PF party and those from the uniformed services.

Mugabe said he now felt vindicated by current pleas to his government by the British to help repatriate some Zimbabweans who have overstayed their welcome in the European country.

The 90-year-old leader began his address by showering praises on Bandama for staying true to the 1970s liberation struggle that dislodged British rule.

He said he saw no evidence of such attributes among the current crop of Zimbabweans who ran into the arms of the erstwhile enemy at the smallest promise of money by the enemy.

“Mukapihwa kamari kakati, ah chava chichemo, ‘hurumende yakashata, haisi nyika ino’. (If you are offered some small money you turn against the government alleging the country was badly governed.)

“Kareko, haiwa votsvaga passport tovapa voenda kuBritain ivava ‘ah vaMugabe vari kutidzvanyirira, vaMugabe aiwa tiri kuiswa mujeri’. Nhema dzirikurehwa, nhema. Ipassport yavaMugabe iyoyo kuti ubude nayo. Tichikupa passport ‘ehe ndinemhosva ndirikuda kubatwa navaMugabe’. (We were kind enough to offer them passports which they then used to travel to Britain to claim we were out to imprison them and yet fail to appreciate they were using Mugabe’s passport).

Mugabe said the British had hoped that by offering Zimbabweans asylum it would help buttress their claims there were rampant human rights violations in the country.

“Nhasi uno zvaita sei, veBritain vaakuti ‘ah vanhu venyu taakuda kuti vadzoke tibatsirei tivape matsamba ekudzokesa’ ko makambovapa sei? Vakatorwa vachiuya nechichemo chekuti tirikudzvanyirirwa. Ko mava kuda kuvadzosa zvakare kuuanyiriri hwavaMugabe? (The British now want us help them process deportation documents for Zimbabwean nationals why would they want to send them back to the same oppressive government?),” Mugabe said to applause from his supporters.

Britain is home to thousands of Zimbabweans, some who now have British offspring.

The Zimbabweans include political and economic refugees who have found sanctuary in the former colonial master’s backyard.

Mugabe arrived at the national shrine in a procession that included the army gun carriage carrying the late Bandama’s body. Conspicuous by her absence was his much younger wife, Grace, who usually aids him walk up the Heroes’ Acre’s concrete slopes.

The ageing leader looked fit as he walked, arms behind, as he accompanied the deceased’s relatives who followed just behind the pallbearers carrying Bandama’s body.

Walking fit … President Mugabe did not need the usual aid of his wife to walk Thursday

Major General Bandama died when he had just been promoted to his rank.

In comments directed at those who have queried the conferment of national hero status on Zimbabweans, President Mugabe said the honour was for those who remained loyal to the liberation war’s cause, right up to the end.

“… If you do not work in the same way and achieve the goals that Eliah achieved, attain the virtues that he attained and the same discipline, the same loyalty, the same principle of sacrifice,” Mugabe

said in a speech that lasted a full hour plus 21 minutes.

“If you did not have those ones, don’t just have your wish please, a mere empty wish to lie at the heroes acre kuti ndinodawo kuenda kugomo iro nekuti gomo iroro riri kundifadza. Ah ndikaenda ikoko ah moyo wangu ungafare’.

“Ehee ungafare asi hapasi pako, hauna kodzero. Saka passport yako yakanyorwa kuti chii? What is it that you did in life to deserve to lie here?

“So let it be known here in this sacred shrine that the act of conferring hero status on men and women who rest here comes, yes, from the voluntary choice of and commitment to a hard, dangerous and uneasy life of struggle right up to the bitter end. The road is bitter right up to the end.”

Source : New Zimbabwe