via Grace praises Joshua Nkomo – DailyNews Live Helen Kadirire • 4 December 2015
HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe was yesterday effusive in her praise of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo on account of his outstanding service to the country both before and after Zimbabwe’s independence.
The wringing endorsement of “Father Zimbabwe”, as Nkomo was fondly referred to, came a few months after Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa caused a national uproar after he described the late liberation icon as a sell-out.
A Zanu PF insider who spoke to the Daily News last night and who is seen as opposed to Mnangagwa in the warring Zanu PF said cryptically that the “stark contrast between Dr Amai’s (Grace’s) sentiments and the VP’s utterances on umdala (Nkomo) speak volumes”.
Addressing her latest rally at Maphisa Business Centre in Matabeleland South yesterday, Grace paid glowing tribute to Nkomo throughout her speech.
“He (Nkomo) struggled throughout his life so that Zimbabwe is what it is today. He struggled with many other liberation war heroes during the war, when they were persecuted by the white regime for inciting blacks to fight against oppression,” she said.
This was in stark contrast to what was said by Mnangagwa, who said in an interview with the London-based New African magazine that the much-adored late national hero was a sell-out.
Some bigwigs in the post-congress Zanu PF who were incensed by Mnangagwa’s views on Nkomo went on to print thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with the faces of the late VP and that of Grace, in what was seen as a frontal revenge attack on the Midlands godfather.
Mnangagwa’s attack of Nkomo also drew the ire of the late VP’s family, with his son Sibangilizwe Nkomo saying the Zanu PF strongman had displayed a glaring lack of respect for “Father Zimbabwe”.
“VP Mnangagwa’s statements are retrogressive and are not constructive. He wants to take away the dignity and respect of ‘Father Zimbabwe’.
“The name ‘Father Zimbabwe’ cannot be given to sell-outs, it shows his role as a nation builder. It is shocking for someone to call him a sell-out when the nation knows he was a nation-builder,” Sibangilizwe told a local weekly.
In July, former war veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda — a former aide to Nkomo — said the respected late nationalist was “probably turning in his grave” as Zanu PF presided over “debilitating divisions in the country and a collapsing economy”.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News as the country remembered Nkomo, Sibanda said the revered former leader of Zapu before its merger with Mugabe’s party in 1987 would “definitely be disappointed” by Zimbabwe’s demise under Zanu PF if he was still alive.
“Nkomo would not be happy if he was alive because the current leadership is actually presiding over the liquidation of the party and country. It is presiding over the liquidation of the State. I tell you, if Nkomo was alive he would be greatly disappointed,” he said.
Nkomo died on July 1, 1999 following a long illness, and after spending his entire adult life fighting for an equal and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Sibanda said Nkomo would be disappointed with Zanu PF and the state of the country because his vision for Zimbabwe was one of freedom, progress and development.
“Nkomo is the only leader in the world who went on to negotiate (with Mugabe’s Zanu) walking on top of graves in the interest of peace and unity in the country, as well as future generations. He stood for peace, tranquility and prosperity, and sadly all these values have since been destroyed by Zanu PF led by Mugabe.
“Nkomo was selfless but now we see that President Mugabe and his party are presiding over the destruction of all the values that Nkomo stood for. They are de-commissioning the party, they are de-revolutionising the party and as a result there is unprecedented disintegration of the party and government.
“But at the same time, he (Nkomo) would also be happy because he believed in the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. So, if he was here he would give people hope, unite them and tell them to find one another.
“He would give people hope because to him the people always came first, and thus he would have given the people hope and courage to regroup for the survival of the country, the revival of the economy and re-establishment of our image among other African nations.
“Yes, Nkomo would have been disappointed, but on the other hand, he would have been happy,” Sibanda said.