Declare Mhanda national hero, MDC-R

via Declare Mhanda national hero, MDC-R 30/05/2014 NewZimbabwe

WAR hero Wilfred Mhanda, who succumbed to colon cancer in midweek, was expected to be laid to rest at Glen Forest cemetery in Harare on Saturday with his former liberation struggle colleagues in Zanu PF and government barely wasting a tear.

In fact, it was the opposition parties which paid glowing tributes to a man who left the country in 1971 to fight a ruthless settler colonial regime and rose through the ranks to become part of the High Command of the war effort.

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T described Mhanda, 64, as “a true, dedicated comrade who has an impeccable record.”

The rival MDC Team demanded national hero status for him, failing which “we strongly condemn the partisan and narrow mindedness that is implemented by Zanu PF in awarding national hero status”.

But fellow veterans of the struggle said the former Zanla commander would not have wanted to be declared a national hero by Zanu PF or be laid to rest at the national shrine in the capital.

Mhanda was part of a group which, with the Rhodesian security services on their tails, skipped the border into Botswana and joined ZANLA in 1971.

Using the war name Dzinashe Machingura, he was sent for training in China and later rose through the ranks to become a military instructor, political commissar, commander of the Mgagao camp in Tanzania and then member of the High Command.

Tribute to an independence war hero … MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

However, Mugabe and the Zanu PF leadership had precious little to say over his passing on.

Said Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo: “He made his contribution. He was a member of the High Command. He had his challenges after independence, but that does not take away his contributions as a fighter and commander.”

Jacob Mafume of the MDC Team helpfully explained what Gumbo chose to describe as Mhanda’s post-independence “challenges”.

Opposition to Mugabe

“The people of Zimbabwe will remember Mhanda who fiercely opposed the continued dictatorship of Robert Mugabe and the betrayal by some in Zanu PF of the principles and ideals of the liberation struggle,” Mafume said in a statement.

“After independence, Mhanda could not tolerate and spoke strongly against the massive corruption in government, the looting of the country’s natural resources by a few well connected Zanu PF officials; and the harassment, persecution and murder of political opponents by State and non-State actors.

“He found this deplorable and an affront to our national values, esteem and the dignity of the people of Zimbabwe.”

But Mhanda’s fallout with Mugabe and the Zanu PF hierarchy started well before independence in 1980 when he was part of a frustrated group that rose against the political leadership of the struggle.

They paid dearly for the mischief.

UK-based war veteran and journalist, Killian Ducas Mwanaka, who was part of the group arrested with Mhanda for the “rebellion” explained: “They (Zanu leadership) wanted to put us before a firing squad.

“We were only saved by the Mozambican government which said they did not want any killings on their soil.

“We were jailed in 1976 or thereabouts and remained incarcerated until 1979 when we were released following appeals to Lord Soames who was dispatched by the British government to preside over the transition to majority rule.”

Mwanaka, whose war name was Ducas Fambai, said their so-called Vashandi group – largely comprising field officers – rebelled against the political leadership for a number of reasons, including the death of Herbert Chitepo.

“It’s a long and complicated story. But, in short we wanted, among other things, the unification of the Zanla and Zipra fighting forces, something the leadership did not agree with,” said Mwanaka.

“We were also not convinced about the leadership’s commitment to radical Marxism because many of them ran businesses in countries such as Zambia.

“You could call it infantile disorder; we were certainly too hard-line and needed to tone it down a bit. But you have to understand that Cuba was, at the time, utopia for many of us.”

Asked what they intended to do with the leaders, Mwanaka said: “The idea was to force ideological re-education to ensure a new commitment to Marxism.

Mozambique arrest

“Failing that we would remove them completely; which we could have done because the fighting force was behind us. But the leaders were smarter, and they beat us to it.

“We were called to a supposed meeting in Beira only to find ourselves being thrown into jail with the connivance of the Frelimo government.”

Even so, the MDC Team said Mhanda deserved “due recognition (for) his contribution as a gallant liberator of the people of Zimbabwe both before and after independence”.

“We call for him to be awarded a national liberation hero status, failure of which we strongly condemn the partisan and narrow mindedness that is implemented by Zanu PF in awarding national hero status,” he said.

“The former guerrilla war commander will always be remembered as a selfless cadre and revolutionary whose contribution to the fight for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe both before and after independence is unquestionable and will be cherished by all who want to see their country … prospering.”

The Mavambo Kusile opposition party, led by former finance minister Simba Makoni, also paid tribute to Mhanda.

“Mhanda was one of the fearless war veterans who fought gallantly for the liberation of this country and remained resolute to seeing a just Zimbabwe where everyone lives without fear that characterise our society today,” the party said.

“His revolutionary spirit will continue to inspire us to ensure that Zimbabweans’ truly benefit from the tree of freedom that the blood of other gallant sons and other heroes and heroines of our struggle continue to nourish.

“Together we will get Zimbabwe working again to ensure that the ideals Wilfred Mhanda, cherished, fought, lived and died for, will never die.”



  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    All this revolutionary spirit is what got us in this mess. The fact that this murdering thug and his friends fell out with other murdering thugs and their friends is of what importance?

    It really is time to grow up or the mess will continue to spread

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      Ruramai 8 years ago

      John Thomas, enlighten me on this one. Who did Wilfred Mhanda murder exactly? Are you familiar with his story?

    • comment-avatar
      Emmanuel 8 years ago

      I used to respect your comments. It appears you are a Rhodesian to the bone who should not be taken seriously anymore.

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    Washumba 8 years ago

    MDC-R ndeipiko iyi. Ko iyi MDC-Team kusada kubvisa T kuti vazoviringidza vanhu pama vote ma1 zveZim unotoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei. Isu zvedu tinepfungwa dzinenge dzana Cde Dzino hamutigoni tine munyati.

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    Job well done Comrade, Rest In Peace,We will alwys remember you.

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    Zimbali 8 years ago

    New Zimbabwe

    What “ruthless settler colonial regime” are you referring to? Education, health, jobs, economy, money were all available in those days and all in good order. Yes there were imbalances but not ruthless ones. Maybe you should be referring to the “ruthless comrade Mugabe regime” which has been in place now for over 34 years.

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      Parangeta 8 years ago

      Our family, on two 3000 acre farms, (one my father’s, the other my elder brother’s)8 miles outside Bindura, called Uronga, provide our laborers with free rations weekly. This consisting of fresh ox-meat, dried ‘bacalhau’ fish, beans, sugar, mealie meal, sugar, bread, canned goods and dried milk.

      Infants received fresh milk from the dairy, during their formative years. The laborers were given the use of our tractor to plow, harrow and ridge their vegetable/maize plots, with free seed, pesticide and fertilizer.

      There was a well stocked First Aid center for non-serious injuries. Those injured seriously were immediately driven to Bindura (Native Clinic admittedly) and Hospital for treatment.

      The workers were paid from $6.00 to $9.00 Rhodesian pounds a week, ($32-$55 week adjusted for inflation) every Friday, before rations were distributed at the Store, where they could also shop.

      This wage was very ‘livable’, considering there was no charge for rent, food, medical or taxes.

      Our driver would pick up,space available, our farm families who walked the 8 miles to Bindura, to shop. Hours of work were from around 6.30 am, with an hour at 10.30, until 2.30-3.00pm Monday – Friday, with Sat and Sun off to party and brew native beer.

      I use the word Native respectfully, being the original inhabitants of the area, well arguably, as some were m’korokoro,n’Debele, Nyasa and m’Anyica.

      So, when your commentator states “the ruthless Colonizers”, he is way off the mark, in fact totally uninformed and witless.

      Admittedly, Rhodesians treated the ‘native’ as inferior, unqualified to Vote and unequal, but we never treated our laborers or anyone “ruthlessly”. Never!

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    Chat2206 8 years ago

    MDC-R? Is that MDC Richard Morgan Tsvangirai? Haa politics dze zimbabwe dzakadhakwa! Stupid and idiot academics from Mugabe, Mutambara, Biti, Ncube….the list is endless!

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    I am sure Dzino would not have wanted to be hurried at looters acre. He was not one of them.

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    I am sure Dzino would not have wanted to be burried at looter’s acre. He was not one of them. He was not a looter. He was a true hero.

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    burried at looter’s acre. He was not one of them. He was not a looter. He was a true hero.

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    Zambili you may have been born yesterday so you wouldn’t understand the meaning of ruthlessness or know how ruthless the settlers were. Indigenous people were forcibly removed from their ancesteral lands to arid and tsetse- infested and malarial areas such as Gokwe. A case in point is how some people from Chief Charumbira area were uprooted from their land to Nembudziya to create farms for the settlers. In the process former lost property and those who dared oppose the move had homes set on fire, lost their lives or were thrown in prison. They were forced to sell their livestock at the price charged by the buyers , in this case the settlers. Is this not ruthlessness?

    Employment was plentiful, yes , because the settlers used Africans as cheap labour and made them work under inhuman conditions. Trade unions came into picture at independence They could bit, maim or even kill any of their workers who could have been considered disobedient with impunity . Trade unions came into picture at independence to try and redress the situation. The farmer I worked for in the 70s was nick-named Bhobho because he was ruthless. If one made a mistake or committed a crime one would wet one’s parts before even meeting. Such was the fear that we had of him! I used to earn a $1 per month then but because we were living in a remote area it was difficult to pocket it for the farmer would bring goodies for sell on pay day!

    During the war of liberation that was fought to get back land to the rightful owners, indigenous people people were bombed, thrown down from helicopters, dragged behind vehicles to their death, shot at at blank point and houses set on fire with occupancy inside. Is this not ruthlessness?

    Lets late bygones be bygones, otherwise, one would write a book on,” Settlers ruthlessness” or open old wounds.

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      Tinomunamataishe 8 years ago

      @the future – let me say I have seen it all.

      All you have written above looks like child’s play compared to what the Zanu PF regime has done over the last 34 years.

      During Murambatsiva more than 700,000 people had their dwellings destroyed and many lost property they had spent so many years buying. A lot of school children stopped going to school and Bob and company didn’t care.

      In the 80s, in Matabeleland and the Midlands whole villages were wiped out by Mugabe’s army. In some cases relatives were asked to sing and dance when their relatives were buried alive, all this because there were suspected of supporting dissidents or couldn’t speak some language.

      Whole villages were set on fire and people were imprisoned without trial in Bob’s state of emergency.

      In 2008, more than 200 people were killed and thousands maimed because they didn’t support Zanu PF. Some disappeared and six years later nobody knows what happened to them.

      Today there is no employment but even those who are fortunate to have those few jobs are not being paid. Some have gone to work for almost a year with no pay and they have to find other means to sustain their families.

      At places like ZBC the bosses would ensure they got their pay even if it meant the corporation getting a loan whilst the the ordinary workers went without any pay for more than six months.

      Pensioners who worked for so many years some of them as professionals like nurses and teachers are wallowing in abject poverty because of the meager pension they are getting. All their savings were wiped off by Gono and his unending zeroes and their life insurance policies rendered useless.

      These are people who worked sometimes over 40 years continuously and today they have nothing to show for it and have to beg in their twilight years.

      Bob’s misrule has displaced millions of people from their mother country and some highly qualified people with degrees etc today do menial jobs to survive in foreign countries. Thousands of families have been torn apart as people flee to various countries just to eke out a living. Isn’t that ruthless?

      In the meantime the ruling elite fly abroad whenever they feel a tingling in the eye and have a slight cough.

      Bob wins by a wide margin if you want to talk about ruthlessness. At least the whites were kind to their own, not so for Bob and co.

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    Parangeta 8 years ago

    Talk about rightful owners eh?
    Well read this and weep Comrade….

    “For the next ten years, Mzilikazi dominated the area north of the Limpopo river.

    This period, known locally as the Mfecane (crushing) was characterised by devastation and murder on a grand scale as Mzilikazi removed all opposition and remodelled the territory to suit the new Ndebele order. He used the method of scorched earth to keep distance to all surrounding kingdoms.

    The death toll has never been satisfactorily determined, but the region was so depopulated that the Settlers (BSAP) were able to occupy and take ownership of the Masdhonaland area without opposition in the 1800’s”.

    No one denies there were some very “bad apples” in the Rhodesian barrel, but by and large all the farmers I knew, and on record, did what we did.

    Your despicable Bhobho was an exception, and not the rule.

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    Fundani Moto 8 years ago

    You wonder why we are such a miserable lot! Does the injection of Mzilikazi justify the ineptitude of the present ‘order’?

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      Mukanya 8 years ago

      Please let us respect gamba redu. This is not the forum nor opportune time to discuss all the issues some people are bringing up.