YESTERDAY marked 23 years since the death of veteran nationalist and one of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo who succumbed to prostate cancer on July 1, 1999.
President Mnangagwa led the country in celebrating the legacy of Dr Nkomo saying the memory of the late Vice-President must be kept alive from generation to generation in honour of his contributions to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
This year’s commemorations of Dr Nkomo’s death comes at a critical time when retrogressive elements associated with Mr Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have attempted to vulgarise the country’s liberation history, scorn efforts that led to Zimbabwe’s Independence by claiming that the Ian Smith’s colonial government was better than the independent mother land.
Perhaps the narrative is understandable coming from the CCC, an offshoot of the first MDC led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai whose formation sought to pursue the interests of those that Dr Nkomo and his colleagues took up arms against, fought and defeated to usher in a liberated Zimbabwe.
The anniversary of Dr Nkomo’s death then couldn’t have come at a better time to expose attempts by the CCC elements to defraud the country’s history.
Just to put things in perspective, the Ian Smith that they are celebrating now is the very same person who deployed his special forces, the Special Air Service (SAS) to attack and kill Dr Nkomo in a planned raid at his home in Lusaka, Zambia on 15 April, 1979.
The attempt did not, however, succeed after Zipra intercepted communications of the impending attack and quickly moved Dr Nkomo to a safe house and when the attack happened, he had long left the house.
Before the assassination attempt on Nkomo, it is the very Smith-led government that killed Jason Ziyapapa Moyo in a parcel bomb, the same regime that killed Zipra commander Alfred Nikita Mangena in an ambush, the very regime that abducted Zipra intelligence chief Ethan Dube in Botswana and to date no one knows where they dumped his body.
The Ian Smith that they celebrate is the same person whose forces bombed freedom fighters’ camps in Mkushi Camp, a female camp comprising mostly of refugees and fired at the defenceless women and girls with reckless abandon leaving heaps of bodies.
They did it at Freedom Camp also in Zambia. Before they had committed mass killings in Nyadzonia and Chimoio in Mozambique.
In an interview with this paper in 2018, former Zipra Intelligence Supremo and late National Hero Dr Dumiso Dabengwa said after the Lusaka assassination attempt failed, the Rhodesians hatched another plot to shoot down a Zambian military plane carrying Dr Nkomo in the same month.
Dr Dabengwa, who was in the same flight with Dr Nkomo, said they were coming from a meeting in Maputo to concretise preparations for the Lancaster House Conference.
“At one time, we had gone to a meeting in Maputo. It was on a Zambian Air Force plane and our meeting had taken longer than we had expected.
“On our way back, the Zambian pilots noticed that our plane was being monitored and they decided to change the route and instead of flying directly from Maputo to Lusaka, they decided to divert and flew via Malawi and this was at night,” said Dr Dabengwa.
“The Rhodesian Air Force meant to intercept our plane and have it shot down; I was in that flight together with Nkomo and others.”
It is against this background that the claims by the ahistorical CCC brigade that Smith’s government was better than Zimbabwe should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
The claims serve nothing but expose the enemies of Zimbabwe’s Independence whose stance begs the question: How did they find the luxury of enjoying Smith’s reign at a time when liberation icons like Joshua Nkomo were ducking bullets and bombs fighting colonialism? When the country’s liberators were losing life and limb fighting for Independence?
Is this not confirmation that just like their party’s parentage, their DNA can be traced to apologists of the evil Smith regime?
President Mnangagwa on Monday rightly called for the youths to be patriotic to their country in honour to liberation icons like Dr Nkomo when he said:
“First and foremost, they should remain loyal, patriotic and be proud of their country Zimbabwe. Whether in moments of glory or in moments of mourning, they must remain patriotic to their country. Whether in situations of suffering or in situations of plenty, they should remain patriotic to their country.
“There are not two Zimbabwe Republics, it’s just one, it’s theirs. Either they uphold it, it would remain a proud nation respected worldwide, or they get divided because they are aspiring to be what they are not then they lose character.”