HARARE – A dark cloud hangs over Zimbabwe as the nation bids farewell to one of the few level-headed political leaders of our time and a liberation icon, Vice President John Nkomo.
He is a man who helped heal the country after the dark days of Gukurahundi. He is a man who served his country with distinction, a steadying hand in government, a fountain of wisdom.
He had his own flaws, but then who doesn’t?
Nkomo has left a void that will be difficult to fill and the country will dearly miss him.
He was one of the cool heads in government, a moderate in Zanu PF.
Although largely insignificant in the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, he was a man who could checkmate some of the exceedingly ambitious Zanu PF cadres.
But if facts be told Mugabe, who will be burying his fourth deputy in less than 15 years, has turned the country’s top office into a “jobs for life” fiefdom.
Despite all four not having officially indicated their willingness to retire, Mugabe was supposed to give them leave to rest, but he didn’t.
Vice presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika and now John Nkomo all died in office. They all could have gone into voluntary retirement.
They were worked even in ailing health.
At 78, Nkomo has died after a long battle with cancer and there is no denying that he, as was his three predecessors, had become so ill he needed time to recuperate without the pressure of running government everyday.
They needed rest instead of plodding ahead with the rigours of public office.
Nkomo as a public servant should have been retired ages ago, when his health started deteriorating.
He needed rest after a long life of service to God and country but he soldiered on.
Sportspersons and industrialists as well as shop level workers have retired because of ill health.
The jobs-for-life culture must stop now and those that have given their life to the service of Zimbabwe must be allowed to retire rather than face the ignominy of falling off the podium to their grave.
It is the same mentality that has forced citizens to live with corrupt and incompetent individuals as ministers in government, some for three decades.
We however, say go well “mdala wethu.”
Yours was a life well-lived! – Staff Writer