ZANU PF could be in a quandary on how to handle late nationalist Enos Nkala’s hero status, as he was fingered as the brains behind the Gukurahundi massacres, where a reported 20 000 people were killed in the 1980s.
JOHN NYASHANU/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Nkala (81) a Zanu PF founding member and a former Cabinet minister, died yesterday at Avenues Clinic in Harare.
Family spokesperson, Hebert Nkala, said the veteran politician succumbed to a kidney infection and a heart attack, after being hospitalised since August 7.
“We tried all we could, but without success,” he said.
“He battled a kidney ailment for two years and we took him to various health centres locally and outside the country.”
The former minister had not been well for some time and was in March admitted at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where he was battling a kidney and heart related ailment.
To add further to Zanu PF’s potential dilemma will be that Nkala said he did not wish to be buried at the Heroes’ Acre, saying he did not like the shrine. “My being not buried at Heroes’ Acre doesn’t cancel my status,” he was quoted saying in 2011.
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“I don’t want to go there. I just don’t want.
“There are reasons why I think I should be buried in my region, within my province, by my people. I don’t want my body to be carried and put into that place. I don’t like it personally from my point of view.
“That thing (National Heroes’ Acre) was copied from North Korea. I’m not a North Korean. I’m a Zimbabwean, proud of what I am and my origin, so I’m not going to be thrown to some hill for the prestige of it. That’s my reason.” Zanu PF is yet to decide on Nkala’s status, but the party could find itself in an embarrassing situation.
Despite having founded the party, his legacy has been tainted by Gukurahundi, but he had previously dissociated himself from it. Zanu PF was formed at Nkala’s residence in Harare on August 1963.
The party’s Bulawayo provincial chairman Callistus Ndlovu described the late Nkala as the founder of nationalism in Zimbabwe.
“We received the news with sadness,” he said.
“It’s a pity he has died.”
Ndlovu said the party leadership would meet to decide on Nkala’s hero status. “It’s a collective decision of the party, which is finalised by the politburo. There are some people who might feel that he deserves a hero status, but it is not for me to say,” he said, a clear indicator that the decision will not be smooth sailing. “The leadership will decide.”
Ndlovu said the late Nkala gave birth to nationalism in Zimbabwe and was instrumental in the fight against the white colonial government.
Nkala served as Finance, National Supplies, Home Affairs and Defence minister in the years leading to the 1987 Unity Accord that ended the Gukurahundi massacres.
He vehemently denied any involvement in the Gukurahundi massacres, saying he expressed his opposition to the operation that left over 20 000 civilians dead.
Before his death Nkala said he was writing a book chronicling all that happened in Zanu PF since its formation, including the Gukurahundi massacres and the assassination of several high-profile people using car accidents.
He had said the book would be released after his death.
“He was forthright and direct in what he thought or felt,” Ndlovu said. “He never kept a grudge against anyone. People sometimes were not very happy with his pronouncements.
“He did not have any evil intentions against anyone. I knew him to be a hands-on person who made sure that things were done accordingly.”
Despite being a sharp critic of Mugabe in the later years, Nkala mellowed and again courted the President and they had a highly-publicised meeting at Bulawayo’s Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
Mourners are gathered at Hebert’s house at number 62 Carrick Creak, Harare, while others are at the late nationalist’s Bulawayo residence at 9 Eastwood Road, Woodlands.