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Heroes choices outrage Rugare Gumbo

... as another liberation stalwart fails to make it to national shrine

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LIBERATION stalwart, and the only surviving member of Zanu PF’s Dare reChimurenga (the party’s 1970s war council), Rugare Gumbo, has lashed out at the former liberation movement for continuing to play down the key roles of some late freedom fighters.
Yesterday, Gumbo — one of the founding members of the ruling party — added that it was wrong that the former liberation movement continued to “mimic” the contentious way in which national heroes were selected during the era of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

This comes after Zanu PF did not accord national hero status to the late struggle veteran Mukudzei Mudzi, who was, instead, given a State-assisted funeral despite his illustrious liberation credentials.

The miffed Gumbo said that the snubbing of Mudzi showed that Zanu PF allegedly continued to “disrespect” people
who were close to the late Zanu supremo, Herbert Chitepo — who died in controversial circumstances during the liberation struggle.

“I take the opportunity of mourning Mukudzei Mudzi to point out the distorted history of the liberation of Zimbabwe, that neither the masses who sacrificed, nor their fighters benefitted from.

“The Mugabe regime manipulated the party to serve the interests of a small group of people centred on personal greed and political careerism. “Thus, today’s character of Zanu does not reflect the true leadership of the Chitepo legacy that is Dare, High Command, General Staff, Rank and File — but is a reflection of Mugabe,” Gumbo
said.

“Its basis remains personal greed and self-centredness. What is disturbing to some of us is the hypocrisy, discriminatory and selective manner with which war veterans, and in particular the remnants of Chitepo’s leadership, are treated and are never awarded national heroes status.

“I suppose history is written for the winners,” the angry Gumbo said further. The respected former Cabinet minister in Mugabe’s previous administrations, said there were many former freedom fighters who deserved to have been interred at the Heroes Acre, but were snubbed.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

He said Mudzi had joined a long list of those who had been snubbed — including Henry Hamadziripi (a member of Dare reChimurenga), Noel Mukono (another member of Dare reChimurenga), Mathias Gurira (chief protocol officer and member of Dare reChimurenga), Claeytos Chigohwe (national security and intelligence), and Joseph Chimurenga (a member of the High Command and field commander).

Others were Wilfred “Dzinashe Machingura” Mhanda (High Command and Zanla commissar), Saul Sadza-Magaya
(High Command and administration), James Nyikadzino (High Command, security and intelligence), Baya-Chihota
(commander of Military Headquarters in Mozambique) and Chimedza (High Commander).

“This list is by no means exhaustive of the leadership and rank and file of comrades who gave all to the liberation of Zimbabwe, but experienced denial of recognition and support from the party and the regime. “All the above comrades survived into independent Zimbabwe, with the exception of Sadza, Baya and Chimedza who died just before independence.

“But the common thread about all of them is that they were neither recognised nor supported by the Mugabe regime. “The families of those that died just before independence were never supported. As a matter of fact, those who survived were refused a livelihood up to their death,” Gumbo further said.

Robert Mugabe
Former Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe

He added that Mudzi was a key member of the Chitepo team that laid the foundation of Zanla, and was also in the leadership of Zanu’s external wing, as executive secretary from 1971 to 1976 in Zambia. “It is now recognised in retrospect that the British imperial power has always been unforgiving to all true stalwarts of the revolution and naturally, we believe that the imperial power set in motion forces that would eliminate the true leadership of the struggle and replace them with acceptable personalities.

“We honestly do not know whether the frictions that we experienced in Zambia and Mozambique were effected against Chitepo and the remnants of his leadership by Mugabe wittingly or unwittingly, that saw the brief detentions of the whole Dare in Zambia,” Gumbo charged further.

Announcing that Mudzi had been given a state-assisted funeral, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Mudzi was “among the top leadership of the time under the chairmanship of Herbert Chitepo”. “However, during the course of the struggle, we had our own conflicts in the struggle in Mozambique, I think in the late 1970s. We had them suspended because they were involved in some acts of non-compliance with the revolutionary ethos of Zanla.

“Then we suspended him. It was Rugare Gumbo, it was Hamadziripi, it was Chrispen Mandizvidza. Initially they were six. The group included Richard Hove and Kumbirai Kangai. “When we had our trial, Hove and Kangai were discharged and these (the remainder) were convicted. So, we put them aside and we went ahead with our revolution,” Mnangagwa said, hinting on why Mudzi had been overlooked for national hero status.

The issue of who deserves to be accorded national hero status has always been a highly-divisive topic, with Mugabe’s snub of the late freedom fighter and musician, Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira, still fresh in the minds of many Zimbabweans, for example.

When Chinx succumbed to cancer in June 2017, Mugabe rejected an appeal by his family and war veterans to accord him national hero status, sparking an outpouring of anger among Zimbabweans. The leadership of the War Veterans ministry, which was sent to deliver the message to the Chingaira family had a difficult time explaining to an emotionally-charged audience why Chinx could not be interred at the National Heroes Acre for his immense contribution to the war of liberation.

Tshinga Dube follows proceedings at heroes acre recenlty – Pic Annie Mpalume

In the end, it was resolved that the then War Veterans minister, Tshinga Dube, his permanent secretary Walter Tapfumaneyi and Dickson Dzora, the director for administration in Zanu PF, were to lodge an appeal to Mugabe on behalf of the Chingaira family and war veterans who had gathered at the late musician’s home for his funeral.

Dube confirmed to the Daily News then that emotions had indeed run high among Cde Chingaira’s friends and relatives when he told them that he had been conferred with the liberation war hero status.

“They (his relatives and war veterans) were not hostile to us when we arrived, but when the news came, you can imagine how they felt. “It was not very friendly. They had expected that he would be conferred with national hero status. It was not well received,” Dube told the Daily News then.

Chingaira’s snub led to the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda — now Zanu PF’s national political commissar and deputy Defence minister — to lead calls for the process of granting national hero status revised.

Many other eminent liberation stalwarts such as founding Zanu leader, Ndabaningi Sithole, and ZAPU luminaries like Lookout Masuku, Alfred Nikita Mangena and Welshman Mabhena were also denied national hero status.

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