George Maponga in Masvingo
Government and the ruling Zanu-PF have started preparatory work to build a shrine at Masvingo Railway Station in memory of the historic bombing of a Rhodesian locomotive by President Mnangagwa in 1964, that resulted in his arrest and subsequent sentencing to death.
President Mnangagwa, managed to escape the hangman’s noose because he was underage and his sentence was commuted to 10 years behind bars.
Work on the shrine, known as “Trabablas Trail”, named after President Mnangagwa’s nom-de-guerre, “Trabablas Dzokerai Mabhunu” initially started in 2015, when he was still Vice President of the country.
However, some of President Mnangagwa’s paraphernalia, including his liberation war era photos that were on display at the railway station were removed by suspected G40 cabal members after he briefly fled the country following his sacking from Government by former president Mr Robert Mugabe late last year.
Vice chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Enshrinement, Dr Gibson Mahachi, yesterday told a meeting convened to prepare for work on Trabablas Trail Shrine that they wanted President Mnangagwa’s gallant act at the then Fort Victoria Railway station to be remembered by progeny together with exploits of other members of the Crocodile Gang, which the President was part of.
Dr Mahachi, who is also the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe director, said his committee had until May 30, to gather all the required information and material needed to set up a shrine in honour of President Mnangagwa at Masvingo Railway station.
“We founded this committee (enshrinement) to identity key historic sites that mainly have a bias towards our country’s liberation struggle so that we look at how best we can keep the history of such places alive for the benefit of future generations,” he said.
“With regards to Trabablas Trail place we are looking at how best we can develop the place so that it befits its status as a place that is remembered for the first acts of anti-colonial resistance by Zimbabweans leading to the Second Chimurenga.
“The events at Trabablas Trail were very important in the sense that they were aimed at gauging the preparedness among Zimbabweans at the time to support the war of liberation against the colonial regime,” said Dr Mahachi.
He said his committee would not only look at ways of enshrining Trabablas Trail, but also how to connect the shrine to other places where members of President Mnangagwa’s Crocodile Gang carried various activities which signalled that Zimbabweans were readying to take up arms against colonial authorities.
“We want to find out how we can connect Trabablas Trail with other places in Manicaland where the Crocodile Gang members had a presence and carried out various activities marking the start of the Second Chimurenga.
“We want to come up with a tourism package that also educates the future generation about our history. A tourist should want to pass through Trabablas Trail when visiting Great Zimbabwe monuments and that is what we are trying to do.” he said.
Dr Mahachi said the enshrinement committee was lucky to have key sources of information about what transpired during the days of the Crocodile Gang adding that people like Father Emmanuel Ribeiro, who helped President Mnangagwa escape the hangman’s noose were key repositories of information.
He said besides Trabablas Trail, there were also plans to enshrine other places like Kamungoma Site in Gutu, where 104 villagers and one freedom fighter were killed during a night vigil (Pungwe) by Rhodesian forces in 1978.
Other places in line for enshrinement in Masvingo were Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp in Chikombedzi, where Zapu leaders including late Vice President Joshua Nkoma were confined.
Altena Farm in Mashonaland Central, where freedom fighters launched an attack on December 21, 1972, marking the beginning of the second and decisive phase of the Second Chimurenga, will also be among other places to be enshrined.
Addressing the same meeting, Zanu-PF director of Environment and Tourism Cde Stewart Mutizwa challenged all Government departments involved in the enshrinement of Trabablas Trail to work round the clock and make sure everything is in place by May 30.
Cde Mutizwa said President Mnangagwa was a role model whose history should be preserved and serve as inspiration to the future generations.
“President Mnangagwa is our role model and it’s unfortunate that the G40 cabal had rushed to remove some of his pictures that were on display at Trabablas Trail, in an attempt to obliterate his history, but as Zanu-PF and Government we have joined hands to make sure our key historical sites particularly related to the country’s war of liberation are not forgotten,” he said.
Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira, who is also Zanu-PF Secretary for Environment and Tourism in the Politburo, would soon visit Trabablas Trail site to assess progress on enshrinement before Vice President and Minister of Defence General Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga (Retired) makes a follow up visit.
This would be in preparation of the Shrine’s official opening by President Mnangagwa.
The meeting was attended by top Government and Zanu-PF officials in Masvingo among them ruling party Masvingo provincial chair Cde Ezra Chadzamira. Father Ribeiro was also in attendance.