BY SILAS NKALA
OPPOSITION political parties yesterday accused the ruling Zanu PF party of persecuting the late Vice-President and former PF Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo after independence despite his selfless sacrifice to liberate the country.
The opposition parties, including the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Zapu and civic groups, made the remarks in statements to commemorate the life of Nkomo who died on July 1, 1999.
“The current ‘Umdala Wethu’ programmes aired on ZBC are meant to garner political mileage for hypocrites who persecuted Father Zimbabwe when he was alive,” CCC Bulawayo spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said.
Zapu spokesperson Mso Ndlovu said on July 1, 1999, the nation lost one of its finest sons.
“This confirms the view that his presence in government provided the stability and protection of national resources from scavengers who after his demise started pillaging the resources like they were possessed by spirits. Nkomo was an epitome of selflessness. His leadership was a product of national consensus and his tenure was characterised by nation-building even when faced with resistance or cowardly alternatives,” Ndlovu said.
“He assembled and led a well-oiled guerrilla army which earned respect from friends and foes alike. After independence, he facilitated empowerment schemes for his now-demobilised soldiers. He also set up numerous sustainable businesses designed to help communities and the nation at large.”
He said Nkomo was instrumental in facilitating the empowerment of Zapu members through education scholarships.
“One of his footprints is arguably the most successful business entity ever set by a black Zimbabwean, Econet Wireless. He saw beyond the ordinary, when ordinary leaders around him lambasted him,” Ndlovu said.
“Nkomo’s enduring legacy was his disdain for conflict among the people of Zimbabwe. This did not stop the blood thirsty cannibalistic group of 1963 from feasting on the blood of innocent people during a genocide, now known as Gukurahundi.
“While Zapu was the primary target of this crime against humanity and joins families who lost their loved ones, we stand firmly behind the leadership of our party because we fully understand the political and military dynamics at the time.”
Ndlovu said Zapu leaders chose to sacrifice the party in order to save tens of thousands of people from perishing during Gukurahundi massacres, which resulted in Nkomo signing the Unity Accord with Zanu PF in 1987.
He suggested that Nkomo’s remains should be exhumed as the National Heroes Acre, had been desecrated.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “Many people lost their lives, multitudes were maimed and misplaced. Nkomo survived a number of attempts on his life, and most of his investments were forcibly taken away by government without compensation.
“We still treasure his selflessness of giving in to joining Zanu PF to save the lives of the people of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, who were being massacred for their ethnicity. We still fight for truth telling, justice and reconciliation so that the true unity that Nkomo stood for can be achieved in our lifetime.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said: “The entire party leadership pays homage to Nkomo, who left a legacy to continue to inspire the second republic to always cherish peaceful coexistence, tolerance, shun tribalism and build the nation on a pillar of love, unity, oneness and empathy for all the people notwithstanding their freed, colour, religion or ethnic background.”