BY SILAS NKALA Former Zipra chief of logistics Thomas Ngwenya has challenged claims that Zanla forces bombed the Salisbury fuel tanks in 1978, insisting that it was Zipra that was behind the sabotage that proved to be a turning point in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
Zanla was Zanu’s military wing while Zipra was PF Zapu’s armed wing during the war.
Several reports have been made claiming that Zanla was responsible for the bombing of the fuel tanks.
On April 2, 2015, state media said December 11, 1978 was a historic day for Zimbabwe when Zanla forces carried out the operation with Josiah Tongogara and Air Marshal Perence Shiri, both late, taking the credit for masterminding the bombings.
Ngwenya said the claims were false.
“The truth is that the fuel tanks were hit by Zipra,” he said.
“The lie is too much. That is a blue lie.
“I was involved in deployment during Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) in Mozambique. I do not remember seeing them (Zanla) with the weapons we used for hitting the tanks.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
ZIPA was the combined army drawn from Zipra and Zanla.
“The team that bombed the tanks was deployed from the Zambian side and that area fell under the hands of chief of operations Charles Gray.
“It has been very common with them (Zanla) to claim credit for other areas or operations they did not conduct,” Ngwenya said.
“If our records were still there, we would be looking at the records of the areas we operated.
“All the information during our liberation struggle, where they have been kept, is just like the reports of the commissions about Gukurahundi (Chihambakwe and Dumbuchena commissions).
“The two commissions of Gukurahundi have never been published for the public to know what really took place.
“This is why I am saying our history is being distorted.”
Government seized properties and records belonging to Zipra after accusing the opposition party and its ex-combatants of plotting to unseat it.
Among the seized records and materials are cassettes with original recordings of Zapu war songs and records.
Ngwenya said Shiri’s claims that he was part of the people that planned the attack on the Salisbury tanks were a mere fabrication.
“Firstly, some heroes were created by Zanu PF, who have been in control of the state media since 1980. This led to the twisting of facts and the creation of fiction since they controlled the means of communication and churned out propaganda to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Since 1980 Zanu had no facts underpinning the way the operation to destroy the fuel tanks in the then Salisbury was carried out.
“They picked an operation they did not execute on the basis that it was in Salisbury (Harare) by assuming that Zpra was only operational in Matabeleland yet that was far from the truth as Zipra had long been in Lomangandi now Mashonaland West from 1976.”
Zipra and Zapu have always been critical of the country’s liberation war narrative, arguing it only extols Zanla contributions while belittling theirs.
A number of late Zapu veterans such as late vice-president Joseph Msika used to question the way Zipra’s history was documented.
He died in 2009 without leaving any written account despite promises to correct the distorted history.