The Bulawayo community was, Sunday, denied an opportunity to welcome the body of the late national hero and Zapu president Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, when the body did not arrive as expected.
Hundreds of people including Zapu party members thronged the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International airport to welcome the liberation icon.
However, they were disappointed to learn that the body had somehow remained in Johannesburg, even though Dabengwa’s widow Zodwa and some family members travelled to Bulawayo.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi led a government delegation that came to welcome Dabengwa’s body.
Addressing the media, Mohadi said the government had conferred a national hero status to the late intelligence supremo, who played a leading role in the liberation of the country.
“The government and the ruling party, Zanu PF after having confirmed the demise of our comrade, Dumiso Dabengwa, we all agreed that he be conferred with the national hero status,”said Mohadi.
“I have just come to convey that message to family members and relatives.”
He added that the body could not travel to Bulawayo as it could not fit in the cargo section of the commercial SA Airlink plane.
VP Mohadi also confirmed that the government had conceded to Dabengwa’s wish to be buried next to his late mother, in his rural home in Ntabazinduna.
Indications are that Dabengwa will be buried on Saturday.
However, the non-arrival of the body on Sunday sent tongues wagging with sources at the OR Tambo International airport confirmed that the body had been cleared to travel to Bulawayo but there were last minute changes.
The state broadcaster, ZBC, also took to twitter to confirm that the government had taken over the proceedings.
VP Mohadi also indicated that the body was likely to be brought in through Harare, if the government fails to secure a direct flight to Bulawayo.
Dr Dabengwa died on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya en-route to Zimbabwe from India where he had been rushed for medical treatment.