THE late Zimbabwe African Union (Zanu) founder, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, has been honoured in Accra, Ghana, where a street has been named after him.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
In Zimbabwe, Sithole, who was a Methodist cleric, was rejected by Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe and not accorded even the lowly district hero status, despite his immense contribution to the early stages of the country’s liberation war.
His peers at the time, the likes of Chief Jeremiah Chirau of Zvimba, were accorded national hero status, as Sithole was relegated for “selling out during the war”.
He was eventually buried at his family farm in Mt Selinda, Manicaland province.
Sithole, born on July 31, 1920 and died on December 12, 2000, is credited with being the main architect during the August 1963 formation of the party that is now Zanu PF.
He founded the party with President Robert Mugabe and the late Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Maurice Nyagumbo, Edgar Tekere and Enos Nkala.
Mugabe is the only survivor of that club.
In 1964 at the party congress at Gwelo, now Gweru, Sithole was elected president and he appointed Mugabe as his secretary-general.
When Zanu was banned in 1964 by Ian Smith’s government, Sithole spent 10 years in prison after being arrested on June 22, 1964 alongside Mugabe, Tekere, Nyagumbo and Takawira for political activities.
While in prison, he authorised Chitepo, who had sneaked out of the country, to continue the struggle from abroad as a Zanu representative.
A rift along what is believed to have been tribal lines split Zanu in 1975 and Mugabe took charge of Zanu, accusing Sithole of having sold out.
At Independence in 1980, Sithole contested the presidential race on a Zanu ticket and lost to Mugabe who has, despite his advanced age, has remained the country’s sole leader.
Sithole was the owner of Porta Farm situated 25km from Harare on the Bulawayo Road, but was later confiscated by the government on the grounds that it harboured squatters.
He authored five books namely African Nationalism (1959), The Polygamist (1972), Roots of a Revolution: Scenes from Zimbabwe’s Struggle (1977) Umvukela wamaNdebele (1982) and Hammer and Sickle over Africa (1991) which together with his political contribution in Africa could be the basis of his recognition in Accra.
He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States and was flown home for burial.