Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Reporter
THURSDAY marked 13 years since the death of the late former Vice President Cde Joseph Msika who was nicknamed Bruno.
The nationalist who died on August 4, 2009, was once imprisoned at Gonakudzingwa prison at the height of the liberation war together with the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, whom he succeeded.
The two leaders died 10 years apart as Dr Nkomo died on 1 July 1999.
As the country commemorates the 13th anniversary of Cde Msika and at the same time paying tribute to the heroes and heroines ahead of the Heroes Day on Monday, Chronicle took the opportunity to find out why the late VP Msika was nicknamed Bruno.
A senior member of Zapu and former Government Minister Cde Angeline Masuku, in an interview said the late VP Msika got the nickname from Dr Nkomo.
She said it was Dr Nkomo who coined the name because of Cde Msika’s penchant to resolve disputes physically.
Cde Masuku said it was not true that the moniker Bruno came as a result of a fight between Cde Msika and Dr Nkomo at Gonakudzingwa.
“Cde Msika was someone who was very temperamental, kwakuyindoda eyayingaphuzi ukugoqa izibhakela.
He wanted all disputes to be solved through physical engagement and then after that try to understand what caused the fight.
I remember at one time while in Zambia, Cde Msika approached uMdala (Dr Nkomo) and accused him of always using diplomacy to solve disputes.
The exact words he used were wena mdala uduba ngokusifakela ibarbed wire, yekela zikhale mani (oldman your problem is you are always restraining us, just leave us to fight).
So it is not true that the nickname Bruno was as a result of him beating to the ground Dr Nkomo while in prison.
Dr Nkomo is the one who actually came up with that name because of the way he (Cde Msika) always wanted things solved,” she said.
Before joining fulltime politics, Cde Msika was a hard tackling defender for Zimbabwe Saints, then known as Mashonaland United.
He played position four, according to City businessman, football administrator and former Chauya Chikwata supremo, Mr Vincent Pamire.
“I have forgotten the years that he played for Mashonaland United but I know he was a defender, playing in position four and was very physical.
What however, I certainly know is that before he died he told Cde Kembo Mohadi that they must not let Saints die and true to that Cde Mohadi always assists us here and there,” said Mr Pamire.
In his message to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the passing on of the late VP Msika, President Mnangagwa said the late Vice President belonged to a generation of nationalists who devoted an entire lifetime to the liberation of the country from the tough hand of colonial rule.
The President said the nationalists played a crucial role in the transformation of nationalist movements into a formidable Patriotic Front which negotiated the end of the armed liberation struggle at the historic Lancaster House Conference in 1979.
“Affectionately known as ‘Bruno’, the late VP’s forthright talk and no-nonsense demeanour always inspired every Zimbabwean to be patriotic and instilled fear in the hearts of those that opposed the revolutionary goals of his generation.
After serving as independent Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Natural Resources, the ardent nation-builder was again instrumental, as ZAPU Vice President, in talks that culminated in the signing of the watershed Unity Accord of 1987.
As Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe from 1999 to 2009, Cde Msika devoted his energies to supporting the land reform programme which restored the land to its rightful owners, the people of Zimbabwe.
This too required steadfastness and resolve and Cde Msika ably demonstrated commitment to the empowerment of the majority indigenous people through ownership of their heritage, the land,” said President Mnangagwa.
A former teacher at Usher Institute, the late Cde Msika was elected Pelandaba House of Assembly representative on a Zapu ticket in 1985, the first and only time he threw in his hat for a parliamentary seat.