Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Cain Ginyilitshe Mathema has defended the staging of a President Robert Mugabe photo exhibition by the Friends of Joshua Trust (FJT) saying it was inevitable.
The exhibition, which opens this evening at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, has infuriated Matabeleland-based civic groups, which say it demeans the legacy of the late Vice-President (VP) Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo.
FJT was launched in 2004 by youths who said they wanted to preserve Nkomo’s legacy and have held a number of exhibitions and events in his honour.
President Mugabe and VP Nkomo were sworn enemies soon after Zimbabwe’s independence, but reconciled in 1987 after their parties Zanu PF and PF Zapu signed the Unity Accord.
One of the groups against the exhibition titled Following the Giant’s Footsteps, the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda (MCRA), said it would be insensitive for the group to celebrate President Mugabe in Matabeleland considering the treatment he accorded to Nkomo after independence.
But Mathema, who is also the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province governor, accused MCRA chairman Effie Ncube of seeking to trivialise President Mugabe.
“That trust was formed in my office and if it is about promoting national heroes and heroines, it cannot be partisan,” he said.
“Nkomo was a national leader and he was what he was because he was elected by the likes of Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo and Robert Mugabe.
“You cannot separate Nkomo from his party, Zanu PF.”
Mathema said Zanu PF was the only party with people with liberation credentials that qualify them to be national heroes.
“Do not equate Zanu PF to MDC because the two are incomparable,” said the politician, who worked closely with Nkomo in post-independent Zimbabwe.
“The Friends of Joshua Trust cannot be asked to recognise sell-outs.”
He said allegations Nkomo and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army’s roles in the liberation struggle were being downplayed in history textbooks were “unfounded”.
“Anyone is free to write the history of the liberation struggle.
“I have written a book that is being serialised in the newspaper called Patriot and anyone who wants to write is free.
“That there were some records (of Zapu and Zipra) activities confiscated does not stop people from writing history. How come we are writing the history of (King) Lobengula now?”