Senior Zanu PF officials were conspicuous by their absence at the memorial service for the late former Defence minister, Enos Nkala, at the Trade Fair Grounds in Bulawayo yesterday.
Report by Nqobile Bhebhe
The notable attendees were Mines minister Obert Mpofu, Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema and Small to Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
The memorial service was organised by Harvest House International, a church the late minister belonged to.
However, Zanu PF provincial chairperson Callistus Ndlovu said in a telephone interview that not much should be read into the absence of some of the party top brass, as Bulawayo structures had endorsed Nkala’s hero status.
“People were not properly informed about the timing,” he said, adding that he was not in Bulawayo.
“It is ourselves who recommended that Nkala be declared a national hero and I signed the letter. Do not read too much into nonsense.”
Ndlovu said the absence of senior officials did not reflect anything.
Nkala’s hero status has reportedly divided Zanu PF structures in Matabeleland and Bulawayo, with some accusing the Zanu PF founding member of being at the forefront of the Gukurahundi massacres in which an estimated 20 000 people were killed in the region.
Ndlovu said despite the absence of senior provincial leaders, the province had organised buses for people intending to travel to Harare for Nkala’s burial.
Speaking at the memorial service, Mpofu claimed unnamed unscrupulous individuals were peddling lies about Nkala for monetary gain, adding that if he was not declared a hero, the national shrine should be destroyed.
“A lot of lies are said about Nkala which is not true. Some people made money by peddling lies about Nkala,” he said.
Interestingly, it was Mpofu who exposed the Willowvale scandal that ended Nkala’s career, sinking him into political oblivion.
Nkala resigned from Zanu PF after he was embroiled in the Willowgate scandal in 1988, where senior government officials fraudulently bought and resold cars from Willowavale Motor Industries.
Mpofu revealed that he joined Zanu PF at the recommendation of Nkala, saying the late nationalist was a brave man who joined Zanu from PF Zapu and was not a tribalist.
“So if Nkala is not a hero, then who should be buried there? The Heroes’ Acre would rather be destroyed.”