Bulawayo residents seethe with anger over Nkomo statue


Bulawayo political activists, civil society leaders and residents are outraged at the proposal to erect a statue of the late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, at Karigamombe Centre in Harare saying the move was provocative as it had negative political connotations.
Based on this historical fact, many people in Matabeleland have said it would be the worst insult to the people of the region.
A Bulawayo resident, Irvine Ndlovu said people should let Nkomo rest in peace and stop using his name to gain needless political mileage.
“There is no worse insult than this one and it is wrong that people just mention Nkomo’s name when it suits them or when they want to continue showing the people of Matabeleland that we are nothing. It’s like they just want to gain mileage by using his name and that must stop,” said Ndlovu.
Another resident, Mlamuli Dube, said the move was ill- conceived. “I think the person who made the suggestion was just not thinking straight and one must go back to him or her and find out if they were serious,” he said. Historian and novelist, Phathisa Nyathi said erecting Nkomo’s statue at the Karigamombe Centre was an insensitive gesture.
“If that is a decision they have taken, then it is extremely mischievous and very insensitive to the people of Matabeleland. Surely Harare has several places and buildings where they can erect the statue. There is really no need for waking up sleeping dogs. I’d rather they let them lie,” he said.
Nyathi added that the gesture showed that Zimbabweans were living in two separate worlds.
“Considering the history of that name and where it came from, erecting Nkomo’s statue at that building illustrates that someone is saying ‘we do not care about those people in Matabeleland and their Joshua Nkomo’. It is like people in Matabeleland live in another Zimbabwe. Surely, they can do better than that,” he said. Matabeleland pressure groups said the suggestion was insulting.
Mqondisi Moyo from Ibhetshu Likazulu said: “This gesture shows that we are not all Zimbabweans. There are some who are more important than others. This shows continual disrespect and belittling of the people in Matabeleland and we will not allow that to happen,” he said.
The Zapu spokesperson, Methuseli Moyo, said the move was as offensive as the idea to let North Korea train in Bulawayo ahead of the World Cup.
North Korea trained the Fifth Brigade that unleashed a reign of terror in Matabeleland and parts of Midlands during the Gukurahundi era in the early 80s which saw more than 20 000 people killed. President Mugabe said the era was “a moment of madness”.
“There are people who always want to insult us at every opportunity. This is a sign that there are some people who are still trapped in their Gukurahundi mentality and continue to be insensitive to the people of Matabeleland,” Moyo said. He said if the project goes ahead, civic society would mobilise people to bring it down.
The issue of the proposed erection of the statue at Karigamombe Centre arose during a full council meeting in Harare, where it became a source of disquiet among city fathers who said they feared a tribal backlash.
Karigamombe means one who takes the bull by the horns, and is associated with President Robert Mugabe’s family.
President Mugabe used the cockerel as his party symbol while Nkomo used a charging bull as his pictogram.
Joshua Nkomo died on July 1 1999 from prostate cancer and his death ignited fears of ethnic tensions as he was the embodiment of the unity that existed between former PF Zapu and Zanu PF.