‘Mugabe seized my book on Tongo’s death’

FORMER President Robert Mugabe confiscated a book written by now Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of the late Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) commander, General Josiah Magama Tongogara.


In an emotional speech at the 39th memorial service for Tongogara, Muchinguri broke down as she “narrated” events leading to Tongogara’s death in a suspicious car crash in Mozambique on Boxing Day, December 26, 1979, months before Zimbabwe’s first all-race elections in 1980.

“I wrote a book on the story [of Tongogara’s death]. I did not know that I was not allowed. Maybe now we can say it because the people are dead. When I wrote the book, I was summoned by former President Mugabe [then Prime Minister], who was in the company of the country’s military commanders Generals Solomon Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe and Josiah Tungamirai, all bedecked in their official uniforms. You know how scary that is. I was asked to hand over the book,” Muchinguri told guests, who included Tongogara’s family members.

Mujuru, Zvinavashe and Tungamirai, who were leading commanders during the liberation struggle and went on to lead independent Zimbabwe’s military, are all dead.

Muchinguri added to the decades-long intrigue around Tongogara’s death by claiming Mugabe and the then Zanla chief had an altercation before the fateful trip.

“Former President Mugabe and Cde Tongogara had an altercation over travel plans to return to Zimbabwe. Mugabe wanted Tongogara’s staff to be flown to Zimbabwe, but the General stood his ground,” the Defence minister, who served as one of Tongogara’s aides and was in the same car when he died, said.

Tongogara reportedly favoured unity between Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) and his then rival Joshua Nkomo, who was leading the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) under the Patriotic Front (PF) banner. Zanu and Zapu were already fighting white minority rule as the Patriotic Front coalition.

There are several versions of events regarding Tongogara’s death, with former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith claiming he was killed by “his own people”, a reference to Mugabe’s Zanu. Smith, in his memoirs; The Great Betrayal added that briefings from police and the Rhodesian Special Branch concluded Tongogara had been assassinated.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) briefing two days after Tongogara’s death also said the then rebel commander “was a potential political rival to Mugabe because of his ambition, popularity and decisive style”.

On the same day, the US embassy in Zambia reported that nobody accepted Mugabe’s version of events that Tongogara had died accidentally, including the then Soviet Union.

Tongogara’s wife has consistently said she was not allowed to view her husband’s body. Rhodesian police also claimed the body had “three wounds, consistent with gunshot wounds, to his upper torso”.

Acting Commander of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo, who also attended the memorial and was also in the same car with Tongogara, said the late Zanla general’s gut had been ripped open on impact, adding “time will come for us to put the record straight”.

Apart from his statement after Tongogara’s death, Mugabe seemed to silently push the military supremo’s contributions and demise to the back-burner of Zimbabwean history during his 37-year-rule.

After taking over last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa re-named the country’s biggest cantonment, KGVI Barracks in Harare, after the late national hero.

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  1. Hadzibati hope vakomana mune ngozi chamakadya chawakupfuka makore mangani munhu haafi sehuku kana dzamara muchataura kwaari

    1. that is true, kujaira kuponda vanhu as if they hold the keys to life

  2. oppah dont waste our time shamwari ur the one akaisa nyere kuna tongo adeura ropa ndiye ane mhosva dnt tok about mugabe taura mhosva yako chete

  3. Gen. Tongogara a men with military wit and above all foresight wanted the two major political parties Zanu and Zapu to contest the 1980 general election as one. How wonderful that could have been, Zim would have definitely started on the best footing.

  4. Gen. Tongogara a men with military wit and above all foresight wanted the two major political parties Zanu and Zapu to contest the 1980 general election as one. How wonderful that could have been, Zim would have definitely started on the best footing. But Oppah needs to be very careful coz Mugabe’s then and longtime aide and intelligence chief is her current boss.

  5. Some of us knew this long time just before he was killed, I had a dream about this fate and being an activist in the youth operating internally we were given a directive to stop campaigning from Maputo. I told my colleague something was not right and I told him Mugabe was not to trusted, this dream came and I told my colleague that the top commander was not in the group that returned to Zim. He rubbished this saying I was thinking too much about this struggle, soon after Tongo’s death we had this new directive that we were to campaign as Zanu not Patriotic Front as per Lancaster Agreement you see. My dream for-filled, some of us do not want to be involved although we had information on some of these. Cde Chirume, Cde Zunzandara in Chitungwiza shared with me this.

  6. I agree with you Sinyo, I was an activist then in the Youth wing operating internally and had this experience during that time. We were campaigning before even before the cease fire, this was stopped with a directive from Maputo. I told my colleague that I did not trust this new wave and was suspicious of Mugabe since he was power hungry. I then had this dream that when the Comrades came from Moza Tongo was not in the group, my colleague rebuffed saying I was thinking about the struggle too much. When the news came about his death its when we were told that we campaign as Zanu and not the Lancaster Agreement which was Patriotic Front.Right now we have comrades who are destitute because when we waged the war their were no proper records such as registers to know all the fighters, the system was abused and to day we have those connected claiming to be war vets even if their history is not known at all. I personally tried speaking to Cde Zvodgo that the Govt was supposed to introduce welfare fund to cover the fighters which includes villagers who lost property during the war etc and this was denied by RG Mugabe

  7. We are more interested in knowing when ED will fix the buggered economy than these fairy tales from a long forgotten war

  8. Tongo was safe on the fateful day bcoz he had his trusted Karanga driver the late general Dauramanzi and Josiah Tungamirai another Karanga was in the front car. AGBob had no say in the Zanla setup or operations that was Tongo’s territory. Search Tungamirai’s version on Tongo’s death it’s consistent with what Opah is saying and I know that Opah was unconscious for a day thus she could be unconscious and weld a gun at the same time. After all Nehanda had predicted the death of Tongo and Chitepo. On Tongo that’s why he changed plans to go to bases instead of to Harare he thought he was evading death not knowing that he was actually meeting it by avoiding boarding a plane becoz he was there when Nehanda said hausvike kumusha asi uchasunungura Zimbabwe

  9. Had general Tongo ben alive, we would not be in this mess. Listening to his speeches, he was a unifier per excellence, not these bogus guys.
    After this sad misfortune, we were yet to loose another brilliant unifier in the form of Sally and that was it. The rest is now history.

  10. Vanhu vachapera nengozi ava.Mhosva hairovi endai monoripa ngozi yamakapara mhuri yake imhenyu Tongogara.Nyika yacho ichakunetsai kutonga iyi.

  11. Muchinguri gave Mugabe the first and only copy,what a foolish writer.After all what do we have to do with something that has been kept a secret for 39year?Definitely next year on the 26th December 2019 which would be the 40 anniversary she will give the extension of the false revelation.

  12. The worst that could have happened was to have Mugabe take over the reins. He wouldn’t have done that if Tongo had been alive.
    Now, if Oppah knows something, why can’t she write the book now? Instead of saying this and that, the people need to know the truth of what happened to Tongo.

  13. he also crossed over to Smith’s camp during a tea break at Lancaster house and asked Smith if he remembered him from his childhood days when Smith’s mum used to give him sweets at their farm. This he did much to the surprise of both camps since the mood between them was quite tense. The gesture was misinterpreted by his colleagues.

  14. izvi zvevakafa nevasisiri kutonga handisisina basa nazvo ini, ndingatode kuziva kuti varikutonga vachafa rini?

  15. Phunyukabemphethe

    The moment you ZANU Shona people started defining Rhodesia as a Shona country of Zimbabwe, that was when everything went wrong. You dont start tribalistically as a country right from the word go, just because you happen by accident to be the majority and still expect to build a nation; in a country of over 16 linguistic and cultural differences. Arrogance always leads to a people’s downfall!!

  16. Tongogara was not killed in a car accident. All these guys are all liers. There was an altercation at a meeting in Mozambique after their return from Lancaster. Tongogara being a man who could easily succumb to anger tried to pull out his pistol at the meeting and unfortunately akatangirwa and he was shot dead. A junior Dr who was at the meeting tried to resustate him but he failed. Since tongogara was samora Machael’s best friend it was difficult to tell samora Machael what had happened as tongogara was supposed to go see him for a briefing before he left for Zimbabwe. A plan was deviced to make it as if he had died in an accident on their way to Zimbabwe so that Machael would not ask any questions and become suspicious of what had happened. The fact that his wife was not allowed to body view the body of his husband sums it all up as he had gun shot wounds.everyone who was at the meeting knows the truth and they should say it unreservedly so that this case is settled once and for all.

  17. ieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo, who also attended the memorial and was also in the same car with Tongogara, said the late Zanla general’s gut had been ripped open on impact, adding “time will come for us to put the record straight”. THIS SEEMS NOT TO BE FACTUAL = THIS WAS AT BEST THE RATIONAL FOR THE INCIDENT TO BE CONCEALED?

  18. Kunyepa uku apa vavakuvhara chokwadi chakataurwa naBiti kuti Tongogara akafa seyi. Zvese izvi hazvina zvazvinotipa isu ngavarege kutipedzera nguva vanhu varikufa mudzimba zvipatatra hakuna mishonga nana Chiremba .Iyo hondo yavanongoti vakarwa yakarwirwa kuti titambure zvatirikuita here izvi ? Mandela akagara mutirongo for 27 years asi akangotonga one term akasiya ko imi kusiya zvineyi sure nyika inoita so many years isina mari yayo , everyday kutaura nyaya yehondo .Hongu makarwa hondo hatirambi makaita basa but tarirayi mauraya hupfumi hwenyika everday we have signed a deal of such zvisina kana ma results kkkkkkkk .Mugabe adiyi munhu akasiya cook ichiwanikwa uye ichiita 50 cents ikozvino iripi irikuita mariyi kkkkk.

  19. Why should we waste our time talking about a short tempered guy who died or was killed decades ago? Honestly, who thinks such a conversation will solve taday’s problems? Should those who committed the crime not just endure sleepless nights in the solitude of their homes?

  20. Did he seize the the information from your head as well? Mamunyanyira, if youare sincere write another one.

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