On the day when Zimbabwe commemorates the death of the founding leader of the liberation struggle former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, there have been mixed feelings over his legacy in Matabeleland.
For the generation that lived through the liberation struggle, the late nationalist had a demi-god status, but the younger generation has shown a state of ambivalence towards a man regarded as Father Zimbabwe.
Nkomo died on July 1 1999 and was buried at the National Heroes’ Acre.
The late Vice-President had initiated a number of projects including a canning enterprise and Ekusileni Hospital and almost all of them still remain incomplete 12 years after his death.
Ekusileni Hospital is a specialist health institution mooted by the late Nkomo after he had been taken to Egypt for specialist medical attention.
In an interview, Mthwakazi
Liberation Front (MLF) secretary for legal affairs Sabelo Ngwenya told NewsDay said Nkomo “remains a subject of controversy within our movement”.
“Although the general view is that he was a true Zimbabwean nationalist who was betrayed by Shona supremacists, most people tend to sympathise with him on the grounds that he tried to be a Zimbabwean, but was failed by the Zanu PF system.”
However, Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said: “Nkomo’s legacy needs to be preserved. He was a pioneer fighter in the armed phase of the liberation struggle. The people of Matabeleland need to know and appreciate that Nkomo saved our lives by joining Zanu PF in the so-called Unity Accord.
“To me and other comrades in Zapu, he (Nkomo) was a hero. What we do now is all up to us. Nkomo always had a way out of a situation.”
But, Zanu PF central committee member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said it was not true to say his former colleagues were “a letdown”.
“When Ekusileni Hospital was built, I was the deputy chairman of the board and sold my property in Harare to raise collateral for the fund that built the hospital. What is remaining is to equip the hospital.
It (the hospital) is there as a landmark in his honour.
“Let us use the commemoration of his death to open debate and get ideas on what we should do to preserve his legacy. His ideas should be remembered. We have the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) which was his idea.
We have the land issue. All people should be empowered, not only one part of the country, including the people of Matabeleland, should be empowered,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zipra will on Friday clean the Ekusileni Hospital as part of remembering the late Father Zimbabwe while the Matojeni Cultural Society will hold the Umdala Wethu commemorations at Stanley Square in Makokoba on Saturday.