via Zanu,Zapu’s early unity efforts – The Zimbabwe Independent January 17, 2014 by Tjenesai Ntungakwa
FROM the beginning, Zanu and Zapu could not co-ordinate any meaningful activity.
Within the Zapu school of thought, Zanu represented a serious attempt by reactionary forces to divide the people of Zimbabwe.
Revolutionary thinkers of modern class struggles like Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov of the then Soviet Union, better known as Lenin, had debated at length efforts of counter-revolutionary agents in changing the course of a revolution.
Lenin became a critical player in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). At its conference in 1905 an overwhelmingly larger faction of the RSDLP broke away and came to be referred to as the “Bolsheviks”. The Bolsheviks were the foundations of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). After the death of Lenin, the CPSU was led by Joseph Stalin.
The discourse of the CPSU won the admiration of Zapu. Zapu sent for training its cadres like David Mpongo, Philemon Makonese, Zephania Sehwa and Mark Nziramasanga. Some of the early operations before 1963 involved the likes of Misheck Ntunduzakoseula Velaphi. Zanu embarked on a mission to entice some of Zapu’s trained personnel to enlist in its military wing Zanla. Robson Manyika was one of these.
Manyika seemed to have crossed over to Zanu in 1971, at more or less the time when Zapu had its worst internal crisis since the demise of the National Democratic Party in 1961. Manyika received military training in the Soviet Union in 1964 together with Dumiso Dabengwa, Ambrose Mutinhiri and others.
Manyika was followed to Zanu by another Zapu cadre Solomon Mujuru known by his nom de guerre Rex Nhongo. Manyika had also served in the Zapu High Command — which was PF-Zapu’s highest-decision-making body during the armed struggle — as Chief of Staff. Such defections tended to strain the sensitive interaction between Zanu and Zapu.
There were many others who followed thereafter. Interestingly, the detention of Zanu and Zapu leaders in 1964 seemed to pave way for better interaction between the parties as well as breaking down barriers.
Both movements started off with bases in the same territory in Dodoma, Tanzania, and later on Zambia. There does not appear to have been much of an exchange of operational information between Zanu and Zapu from 1963 to the early 1970’s.
However Zapu’s Vice President and National Treasurer, Jason Ziyaphapa Moyo, was a good friend of Zanu’s first secretary general, Robert Mugabe. In fact, Moyo featured prominently at Mugabe’s wedding with his late Ghanaian wife, Sally.
Later, it became clear Zapu and Zanu would never enter serious round table negotiations. In 1964, top officials in both parties were banished to detention centres such as Gonakugzingwa, Sikombela, Buffalo Range and Hwa Hwa by the white settler colonial regime.
Consequently, the armed struggle was prosecuted by younger party cadres. Zanu was thus effectively led by its national chairman in exile, Herbert Chitepo, while Zapu was captained by a delicate combination of James Chikerema, its vice president, and Ziyaphapha Moyo who was national treasurer.
As the animosity between the two persisted into 1971, Moyo increasingly assumed the position of deputy president of Zapu until Joshua Nkomo and the rest of the national executive were released in the mid-70s.
In that atmosphere, Zanu and Zapu faced a major challenge that would bring them temporarily closer. In 1971, after some squaring up with Jason Moyo Chikerema formed the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe, Frolizi. Unlike Zanu and Zapu, Frolizi originated in the host country, Zambia. Frolizi is a chapter that those still alive from Zanu and Zapu avoid talking about to this day.
It capitalised on some disgruntled elements from both sides. To Organisation of African Unity (now AU) member states, it appeared to be a unifying force which was looked upon as a favourable option. However, the continental never rushed to formally recognise it.
Chikerema began to lobby the OAU for the full recognition of Frolizi. In principle Zapu and Zanu were against the front and saw it as a ploy to derail the course of the armed struggle. Judging from a paper that was presented by Report Mphoko, one of Zapu’s old guerrillas, Chikerema had left Zapu in a state of total disarmament. From Zanu, Chikerema managed to convince Nathan Shamuyarira to join the front.
Zapu’s highly trained Harold Chirenda, also known as Elliot Masengo, was willing to shed some light on Frolizi: “In those days it became difficult to choose which side to belong to. Some of us decided to join Frolizi,” he said.
Like many others Masengo rejoined Zapu when Frolizi was disbanded in….. vehicle. It had also set up a motley army that was commanded by Shelton Siwela. In the late 70’s , Chikerema participated in the Internal Settlement elections which gave birth to the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa when he was at the help of the Zimbabwe Democratic Party (ZDP).
The Frolizi chapter saw a related development, the formation of the Joint Military Command (JMC). On paper, the JMC was impressive and even won over some observers in the OAU as a genuine step towards unity between the liberation movements. Earlier on, the OAU ad -hoc committee had been set up to look specifically into the problems that kept Zanu and Zapu from forging a unified push to defeat the colonialists in Rhodesia.
In one of the deliberations, the Zanu delegation made up of Henry Hamadziripi, Rugare Gumbo and Mukudzei Mudzi openly stated that they were not in favour of entering into an alliance with Zapu. According to Phelekezela Mphoko of Zapu’s paper, the Zanu officials described Zapu as a “sick organisation”. Their position seemed to have left no room for compromise.
On the other hand, another Zanu entourage that comprised Josiah Tongogara, Richard Hove and Justine Chauke ensured that the proceedings went ahead as originally planned. Zapu was represented by Jason Moyo, George Silundika, Dabengwa and Mphoko of the Zipra High Command. Zapu and the OAU Ad-hoc committee that was tasked to look into Zimbabwe rejected the demands by Zanu. — Continued next week.
Ntungakwa is the national projects advisor of the Revolutionary Research Institute, a project whose work is to document the forgotten as well as hidden contribution by PF Zapu and Zipra to Zimbabwe’s liberation and development.