Nkomo betrayed Zipra: Mpofu

THE late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s participation in the 1979 Lancaster House talks was frowned upon by the military element in his PF-Zapu, Zipra, which felt the negotiations were a “self-created” onslaught for the former liberation movement, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu has claimed.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Mpofu opined last week that the major achievement of the Lancaster House Conference ‘in preserving the interests of Britain and America was the outwitting of Nkomo’ at the talks.

Mpofu, in an opinion piece titled ‘Zimbabwe@40: Joshua Nkomo and the Liberation Footpath (Part 2)’ published in the State-owned media last week, said Nkomo went into the talks against advice from Zipra commanders, among them Lookout Masuku.

Masuku, who led the Zipra forces in the guerrilla war against Rhodesia, died in 1986.

At independence in 1980, Masuku became deputy commander of the Zimbabwe National Army before his arrest in 1982 together with Nkomo’s military intelligence chief, Dumiso Dabengwa, on charges of plotting a coup against Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government. They were acquitted in 1983, but were immediately detained again under emergency powers until release owing to ill-health, culminating in his death.

“In a way, the military remained radically defiant to negotiation…Some in the military ranks especially the Late Lookout Masuku felt betrayed when Dr Nkomo decided to take part in the Lancaster Conference which was perceived as a self-created onslaught for Zapu,” Mpofu argued.

“Dr Nkomo’s decision also served as a swipe to Zipra commanders’ instruction to him not to participate in the Lancaster talks. The friction between the military and Dr Nkomo’s political decision precipitated more internal contradictions between the combatant forces and those at the height of political decision-making.”

This is because, according to Mpofu, Nkomo’s participation was ‘largely driven by misleading advice he received from the whites,’ with the late Father Zimbabwe accused of disregarding counsel from the Zipra military element that had “wide resentments about participation in the Lancaster.”

“Moreover, the exclusion of Russia as an interested stakeholder in the transitional roadmap set at the Lancaster Conference was indicative of Britain and America’s monopolistic determination to shape Zimbabwe’s independence politics. Key African countries which had assisted both Zanla and ZPRA in the execution of the armed struggle were (also) excluded in the Lancaster arrangement,” Mpofu wrote.

But Zapu yesterday accused Mpofu of deliberately skirting the truth about how the liberation movements were frog-marched to the Lancaster House Conference by the Frontline States.

Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said the Zanu PF and PF-Zapu leaders were given one condition; either participate in the talks or stop using the host countries in waging their guerilla war.

“He chooses to side-step the fact that the Frontline States, who supported the Rhodesia Liberation movements, Zapu and Zanu PF, literally marched them into Lancaster, totally unprepared for such. They were given one condition, either participate in the talks or stop using the host countries in waging their guerilla war. This was after a decision was made towards or in 1979 that the Rhodesian question only had to be decided by negotiations and not the inevitable victory of Zipra against the Rhodesian army,” Maphosa said.

“Despite resentment of talks right across the rank and file in Zapu and Zipra, there was no other choice for they would have been left baseless and at the mercy of Rhodesians. It is folly to insinuate that President Nkomo took advice from whites as Mpofu says.

It is nothing, but perpetuation of ethnic propaganda that Zanu PF has been peddling since 1963 to date, which Mpofu could have convinced himself with while in India as his betrayal of Zapu and Nkomo would become clear in the 1980s when he joined Zanu PF right at the height of Gukurahundi genocide.”

Maphosa said Nkomo never took advice from imperialists and that there was no friction between him and the military element.

He said “the imperialist forces in Britain and America had already picked their preferred candidate for the post-Ian Smith era Robert Mugabe, who later went to Lancaster as leader of Zanu PF after assuming that position in the most illicit of ways”.

Maphosa added: “Instead of representing his organisation and the people of Rhodesia, Mugabe was assisted by the British Conservatives to pitch himself as the most suitable candidate by imperialist standards. Both liberation movements were arm-twisted into these talks and both, together with the people lost to Mugabe and his unbridled and insatiable love for power. He presented himself as the only one who could preserve and protect Western interests in Rhodesia post-independence, all that at the expense of the people and the revolution.”

Maphosa said this explains the mysterious death of then Zanla commander General Josiah Tongogara soon afterwards.

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4 Comments

  1. Hamilton Ndlovu

    Dr Obert Mpofu’s story lacks scholarly or academic substance. What are his sources for the write up? Is he an authority in ZAPU affairs? I refer him to the book “CONFRONTATION AND DETENTE” BY Gudderndof. This seminal master-piece is a compendium of declassified international diplomacy/relations on contemporary issues then during the Cold War Era. A lot of bargains and trade-offs occurred then. The then USSR was more than aware of the deals they struck with the West the then Rhodesian Question included among a host of regional and international affairs.
    The pressure brought to bear on both ZAPU and ZANU by the host countries that gave them sanctuary then left the two liberation movements with no alternative but to participate in the Lancaster House Conference. The late Dr JMN Nkomo had his advisors, he listened to the wise counsel from his Military Commanders, statesmen from supporting countries, influential non state actors (individuals and organisations). You may want to note that ZAPU was not a racist organisation. The white community were fully fledged members of ZAPU, remember Prof Reg Austin, lecturer at the UZ, Jeremy Brickhill, a senior security official in ZAPU’s Intelligence Dept to mention but a few, were members and unflinchingly supported ZAPU during those trying times when others deserted the Party. If for instance these and other members of the white community (Russians, East Germans, etc) proffered advise to The Late Dr Nkomo it was in order then. They had the moral responsibility to do so.
    Any scholarly writing must be based on empirical evidence if it has to leave an indelible mark on its readers. It must not leave room to chance. As readers we are not sure what it is that motivated a ‘Dr’ to post that kind of stuff on this public space. Some of the readers are historical, moral and otherwise duty-bound to respond to some of these half truths and unscholarly discourses.

  2. I agree with Iphithule Maphosa’s version of events. Obert Mpofu is selective and gives us a version which suits his current standing and its history.He is doing a dis-service to the history of Zimbabwe, which is begging correction. A lot of false-hoods are peddled. There is no mention of Ian Smith’s role and why we had to be handed back to the British before finally getting independent. I thought the army commanders were there at Lancaster. After all what did Obert Mpofu himself do to improve the situation? Join ZANU (PF)?

    The Lancaster agreement was flawed, visible to any body. There was room to correct it after the 10 years foolishly agreed, but nothing was done as looting and corruption took centre stage and here we are. Blaming people who are long gone will not help. Lets deal with the living to improve our lot.

  3. nkomo did his part and may his soul rest in peace

  4. ZANLA COMBATENTS WERE ALSO BETRAYED BY THIER LEADERS .THEY WANTED BUSH TO OFFICE NOT TALKS.FRONT LINE STATES LIKE MOZAMBIQUI WAS UNDER PRESSURE FROM RENAMO SO IT WAS BETTER TO MAKESURE ALL ZANLA COMBATENTS AND REFUGEES MOVE FROM MOZAMBIQUI SO THAT FRELIMO GOVT WILL DEAL WITH MATSANGA
    BUT I ALSO THANK GOD , BUSH TO OFFICE WOULD CREAT CIVIL WAR BETWEEN ZIPRA AND ZANLA LIKE WANTED HAPPENED IN ANGOLA BETWEEN UNITA AND MPLA.

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