Joshua Nkomo mentored Mugabe: Dabengwa

OPPOSITION Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa has claimed that President Robert Mugabe would have remained an ordinary teacher and political nonentity had he not been recruited and catapulted into the limelight by the late former Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo during the early days of nationalism.


ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa
ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa

Addressing delegates during Nkomo’s Centenary Memorial lecture at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa on Saturday, Dabengwa said it was ironic that Mugabe later plotted Nkomo’s downfall shortly before and after Independence.

“Nkomo recruited Robert Mugabe into nationalist politics. Nkomo catapulted Mugabe into national prominence during the NDP (National Democratic Party) and later Zapu. Mugabe had been working as a teacher in Ghana when Nkomo paid visits to that country for events such as the All-Africa People’s Congress in 1958,” he said.

“When Nkomo was exploring the acceptability of Mugabe into the NDP, he sent and instructed Ackim Ndlovu and me (Dabengwa) to meet Mugabe at the Bulawayo Airport and take him to Nkomo’s home in Pelandaba. Mugabe was later introduced to the party members at a rally in Bulawayo, and he became the NDP’s secretary for information and publicity.”

The former Zipra intelligence supremo said Zapu was formed after NDP was banned by the colonial regime in 1960.

“This party was formed when I was serving a six-month sentence at Grey Street Prison in Bulawayo for making subversive statements after riots and skirmishes that were named by their war cry, Zhii!!!,” he said.

“Nkomo continued to be the president of the new party, Zapu, and Mugabe then became the secretary-general, (James) Chikerema and George Nyandoro were still in detention in Gokwe where they were kept for four years after the banning of the ANC). Heightened political activity by the nationalist movement led to the initiation of talks between Southern Rhodesian government and Zapu to discuss electoral reforms amongst other issues that would lead to “one man one vote.”

He said Nkomo later announced the rejection of the Southern Rhodesian Government proposals which frustrated attainment of majority rule. “Thus the talks collapsed. At the conference to report on the collapse of the talks, the youths were very angry and decided there should be no further negotiations with the Southern Rhodesian regime.

This is when Nkomo authorised the youths to engage in civil disobedience activities. Some of us understood that to include violence and sabotage, leading to Zapu being banned in December 1962. After the banning of Zapu, the leadership decided that forming parties only for them to be banned was costly and futile. They opted to continue resistance without forming another party,” Dabengwa said.

“The resolve not to form another party and to consider a government in exile was made complex by the formation of a splinter party in 1963: the Zimbabwe African Union (Zanu) under the leadership of (the late) Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, but including others like Robert Mugabe, (late) Enos Nkala, Leopold Takawira and Herbert Chitepo.”

He said Nkomo responded by calling for a special congress at Cold Comfort Farm near Harare which resulted in the re-affirmation of the decision not to form another party but went on to set up the People’s Caretaker Council (PCC).

Dabengwa said Chikerema, Nyandoro and Daniel Madzimbamuto at this point resumed their political activity because they had been released from detention.

“Nkomo appointed Chikerema to head a department that was called “Special Affairs” to oversee the training and deployment of cadres to infiltrate the country and fight the Rhodesian regime,” he said.

“Nkomo had become convinced by arguments from the youths to upgrade our civil disobedience by getting capacity to challenge the oppressive machinery of the Rhodesian regime. The logical step was to train for sabotage operations and later to embark on training for armed struggle. I was among the youth who were recruited to go outside the country for training with the likes of Ackim Ndlovu, Ethan Dube, Ambrose Mutinhiri and others.”

He said Zapu external office in Lusaka under Chikerema included Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, George Silundika, Nyandoro, Edward Ndlovu and later on Jane Ngwenya. He said Nkomo and the rest of the executive had been arrested and they spent the best part of 11 years either in Gonakudzingwa or Whawha as political detainees.

“PCC (ZAPU) and Zanu detainees were only released from detention to facilitate preparation for talks in Zambia that were meant to bring about a ceasefire. These talks which were eventually held were being brokered by Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and South Africa’s PW Botha, in a train which was parked on the Victoria Falls bridge.

Participants in these talks were Zapu, Zanu, and the African National Council (ANC of (the late) Bishop Muzorewa) versus the Rhodesian regime. When these talks failed, both Nkomo and Mugabe decided to remain outside the country and pursue the armed struggle,” he said.

Dabengwa said Mugabe and his gang later towards independence became untrustworthy to Nkomo by grabbing top party leadership positions ahead of him.

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  1. A bit of history there Dumiso and that is the problem with these people. We need to look forward to realise the potential the country has.
    We cannot change the past but we can influence the future.

  2. So, Mr Dabengwa, you mean that Nkomo, mentored the nonagenarian to remain in power and to rule until donkeys grow horns?

    1. Your view is paranoid, just like how you have voted for Mugabe for the past 37 years.

  3. Tozvireva Kupiko

    Poor mentoring I would say…look at the result!!

    1. People like you fail to see anything positive, like a selfless leader Nkomo was.
      He introduced Mugabe to politics but never expected the same man to form a splinter party & also murder countless Zimbabweans.

      Understood !

  4. This historical narrative that has become a chorus in Zim is implicitly meant to deny the younger generation a chance to rule. I only hear of liberation stories here in Kenya on heroes day. No wonder our current Kenyan President was less than two years old at independence. Why connively entrench clauses meant to retain the old folk whereas the nation is openly crying for vibrant mindset to kickstart from its current comatose state.

    1. Amen

  5. Nkomo mentored Mugabe , yes thus good history to remember Mr Dabengwa, but whats the story here? Sir what are you trying to bring to the suffering Zimbabweans? Is it the solution to the shortage of cash or what? How can a leader like you whom is known to be once the intelligence cadre for zapu become so law to the extend of coming up with issues that does not have solution to the suffering populace.

  6. igwe ped i like your question, but too many of us are scared to ask that question to mugabe, why? cios

  7. freedo fighter

    news news news please thank you for reminding us the silly stories our tummies are hungry though our youths unemployed gone are better rhodesian days where are rhodes come and take us back to the glory days when the country used to be the bread basket when we used not to sleep on banks for cash when the cash was cash not bonded

  8. @man Kenya,there is no new generation of politician in your country for your own information. The current president is an extension of his father Jomo and the leader of the opposition is the son of the leader of the opposition then who himself was vice president at independence. This is what is likely to happen here if people are not vigilant regardless of their age

  9. Good remark but beware that the two have wrestled their competitors in the primaries in a free and fair exercise. They have joined politics in their personal capacities and thus your argument holds no water.

  10. @ Peter: Taklng you down memory lane, Uhuru’s father died in 1978 when he was 17 and in high school. 19 years later in 1997, he contested as MP and lost. In 2002, he attempted the Presidency and performed dismally to Kibaki and served in the opposition capacity until he ascended to the top seat in 2013, about 35 years after the death of his father. How then can one undergo such a chronology if he had been groomed? As long as there is democractic space for all, everything else is self-perpetuating.

  11. What Dabengwa’s narrative points out is the sly, untrustworth manner of Mugabes way of doing things. Now Zanu PF worship Robert Mugabe as the only figurehead of Chimurenga, yet there are many heroes whose roles are deliberately understated in order to magnify Robert’s stature. There are people like Noel Mukono who are note even at the Heroes Acre yet they were pillars of the struggle. So thank you Mr Dabengwa for adding another piece of the puzzle in Zimbabwean history.

  12. Chomunorwa Rusakaniko

    People misunderstood Dabengwa. he was giving a lecture at wits University and celebrating 100years of Nyongolo nkomobirth .he was simply reminding us a piece of history.

  13. zanu pf can change and change presidents but as long as they are leaders the zimbabweans ell continew duffering why becouse it was stollen from mr joshua nkomo the man dersevd to be given a presidental post in 1980s so the solution of zimbabwe crises is a leader from matebele tribe,

  14. But is it not eye-opening today, what is happening in Zimbabwe, what Joshua Nkomo foretold.He said that one day the Shona people will kill each other, when he addressed the burial of General Lookout Masuku.As you look at it now, that is where we are heading to.ED is refusing to give in to Chamisa’s demands of holding free and fair elections,where the opposition have access to the voter’s roll and the ballot papers.At the end we shall witness a bloody confrontation, exactly like what Joshua Nkomo said.

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