Five years fighting the white minority: The sad tale of an ex-Zipra war fighter

Ex Zipra commander Jefati Christopher Munkombwe is one of the former freedom fighters that are living in poverty

Spending five years fighting against the white minority rule was not an easy task for a former Zipra fighter.

But 44 years later, Christopher Munkombwe feels his efforts went in vain as he and others are living in abject poverty.

He is one of the ex-Zipra cadres who are living a pauper’s life despite putting their lives on the line for the liberation of the country.

Munkombwe, whose war name was Farai Nherera, commanded a section of Zipra cadres that operated in Mwenezi, Masvingo province, covering areas such as Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Filabusi, among others.

Munkombwe, originally a Tonga from Jambezi, Hwange District in Matabeleland North, told Southern Eye during an interview on his hopelessness for a better life after fighting so hard to liberate the country.

He said he has nothing to show for about 44 years after Zimbabwe gained independence.

Born on January 7, 1955, Munkombwe is a father of seven children and has been unfortunate that he got married three times, but all his wives died and now he is unmarried.

The war veteran lives at his home where he has only one grass thatched hut and a three-bedroom house that he has failed to roof for many years due to lack of funds. “I went to Zambia in 1973, I was taken to Morogoro, Tanzania, where I was trained before I could be deployed back at the front to fight. I was taken by one Mthimkhulu and David Sibanda along the Zambezi River while fishing. We were trained at Morogoro and deployed back into the country in 1975 and I operated in Mwenezi’s Nawande area in Masvingo,” Munkombwe said.

“We had several encounters with both the white regime soldiers and Zanla, but we could not lose any member except at some point when we were moving with recruits where we got attacked and some got killed some time in 1976.”

When he was deployed into the Mwenezi area Munkombwe was with six other cadres. He had to recruit 18 others whom he trained, and his team became more dangerous and was feared by the white regime.

Munkombwe said at ceasefire, he went to Zezane assembly point and was transferred to Silalatshani in Filabusi and later to Gwayi, where he was supposed to go to be integrated into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

He claimed to have gathered intelligence that the white regime and Zanla cadres wanted to kill him because of his wartime exploits that tormented them.

“I was a real problem to them, so I heard they wanted to kill me when I join the ZNA. They had my name on their list. So, through advice, I could not join, but I went back to stay at my home in Jambezi. Since then, I have lost three wives and now I live at home with no wife,” Munkombwe said.

“I appeal for assistance to build my homestead. I was vetted yes, but the money I get is not enough. It is traumatising me that after working for five years fighting to liberate this country, I have nothing to show for it, I am just poorer than those who didn’t even go to war.”

Munkombwe said he currently works for the community hunting safari project but has not been paid for six years.

“I work as a scout (animal tracker) when whites come to hunt and shoot animals. I am the one who tracks it down, but I have not been paid for six years, so I am suffering. I do not know if it is because of my lack of education that makes me undeserving to be paid or benefit even from the government that I fought for,” he said.

The community hunting safari is chaired by Davison Ndlovu.

One of the cadres he trained during operation in Mwenezi is former ZNA senior officer Colonel Solomon Ndlovu, who also indicated that Munkombwe was a brave and gifted liberation war fighter whose poverty situation does not match the work he did to bring independence and those in authority should take time to recognise him and assist as much as they can.

“This man was a commander of Zipra who was feared by the whites and many Zanla guys. If you go to Mwenezi and talk about him, you will understand what I am talking about. No one there does not know this man. But what is sad is the suffering state he is after doing all that work,” Ndlovu said.

Related Topics