WAR veterans and loyalists of Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa have come out in defence of the Presidential Affairs minister in the wake of attacks on him by Foreign Affairs deputy minister Chris Mutsvangwa who recently questioned his liberation war credentials.
Mutasa recently refused to respond to Mutsvangwa’s comments.
But those close to the Zanu PF secretary for administration spoke to NewsDay, providing detailed information on his role before and after independence.
Others defended Mutasa’s participation in the war saying he was active and at one time was arrested in Salisbury, now Harare, together with President Robert Mugabe, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and late national heroes Enos Nkala, Maurice Nyagumbo and Edgar Tekere among other party cadres, in the 70s.
Robert Gumbo, a war veteran who worked closely with Mutasa during and after the liberation struggle, spoke glowingly about the work Mutasa did, including assisting war veterans to cross into Mozambique for training through a safer route.
Gumbo chronicled Mutasa’s history in the struggle saying he started a co-operative and would participate in politics at Cold Comfort Farm where liberation icons like the late nationalist Joshua Nkomo would come for meetings.
“That is when I joined him and we used to stay as youths from different parties to fight the Smith regime. Most people went to war from Cold Comfort Farm through the efforts of Mutasa. Very few people knew about that because it was an underground operation. We had problems with the Smith government wanting to ban us because of the political activities,” he said.
Gumbo said the farm was declared illegal in 1971 and banned while Mutasa was arrested and ordered out of the country. He said Mutasa was at the forefront of the Tangwena struggle and while in the United Kingdom, he continued with his role in fighting for the country and would accommodate several nationalists including Mugabe when they went there.
“Let’s not personalise the struggle. People participated playing different roles,” Gumbo said.
Former CIO boss Shadreck Chipanga, who worked closely with Mutasa during the liberation war, said he also knew a lot about his war credentials.
A CV seen by NewsDay shows that Mutasa started participating in politics in the early 50s and his political activism led to him being arrested only to be released in 1972 on condition that he leaves the country for the UK where he set up a party branch in Birmingham before he was elected into the Zanu PF central committee in 1977.