FORMER Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has opened up on the pivotal role he played in bringing together ex-President Robert Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s Zanu and Zapu parties to form the Patriotic Front at the height of the liberation struggle.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Nigeria, which at the time was supplying arms to both parties’ liberation wings, Zanla and Zipra, claimed that he united the two forces after realising that they were busy fighting each instead of confronting their common enemy, the Rhodesian Front lead by Ian Smith.
“Then at a stage our two brothers, Nkomo and Mugabe, they started using the weapons that we gave to them fight against themselves and I said look this is not what we did this for,” Obasanjo said at the presidential debate at the Africa CEOs’ forum in Ivory Coast, whose recording emerged recently.
“So, I tried to get Nkomo and Mugabe together, but they did not want, each time Nkomo came, Mugabe will not come, anytime Mugabe came Nkomo would not come anywhere I exercised patience,” he said.
The former Nigerian President, managed to end the conflict between the two leaders after he gave them loaded guns and asked them to kill each other, he claimed.
“One day they both came together and I thought well we will put an end to this nonsense, so they came into my office, one sat on the right the other sat on the left and I said to them I have here two loaded pistols, since you are using the material that you have to kill yourselves, I will give you each a pistol to shoot each other and whoever is killed we will bury here and the one who survives will go back to Zimbabwe and finish the job, and they said to me this is a drastic solution.
“So Nkomo, every time he saw me until he died, would say you have a drastic solution to a seemingly difficult problem, but anywhere it solved the problem, they went back formed the Patriotic Front and liberated Zimbabwe,” Obasanjo said.
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Obasanjo said, Nigeria supported the Zimbabwean liberation on the principle of freeing black people from white bondage.
“Part of the struggle of colonialism of Zimbabwe, we supported the struggle for the freedom of Zimbabwe not on ideological basis of capitalism, socialism or communism but on ideological basis of we as black people we are equal to any other people anywhere in the world, so for me as a leader then I said … as long as a blackman anywhere in the world is regarded as a second class citizen, I am diminished so I will fight against that,” he said.