Fresh push for Nkomo honour

Joshua Nkomo

Opposition political parties and activists from Matabeleland have accused the government of systematically trying to erase the legacy of late nationalist, Joshua Nkomo, by rejecting calls to honour him by declaring a holiday after him.

There have been calls to declare July 1 a national holiday after Nkomo to honour his contribution towards the independence of the country. 

Nkomo died on July 1, 1999 aged 82.

 He was the PF Zapu leader before the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 with Zanu.

The Accord was signed to stop the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands after the late Robert Mugabe deployed an army unit to target mainly Zapu supporters.

Nkomo later became vice president, and was named Father Zimbabwe.

Zapu spokesperson Mso Ndlovu, said they keep calling on authorities to keep Nkomo’s legacy alive by declaring a holiday after him.

 "Secondly we call upon all political parties contesting the 23 August elections to make a Joshua Nkomo pledge of peace, before, during and after the elections in honour of his legacy of peaceful coexistence, unity in diversity and humility,” Ndlovu said.

Ibhetshu likaZulu coordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo said there is a clear attempt to downplay Nkomo’s role and vision.

"It is unfortunate that he was fighting for equality, human rights promotion and protection and economic empowerment of the citizens, but all his sacrifices have been pushed to the dust bin,” Fuzwayo said.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents chairperson Ambrose Sibindi said Nkomo deserved to be honoured.

"Considering his contribution towards independence and assessing what is happening now in the country, I think if Nkomo can get a chance to rise and see what is happening, he will be the most disappointed,” Sibindi said.

Sibindi said it was disappointing to note that the road leading to Nkomo's rural home in Kezi was in a sorry state and did not even resemble a place where a national leader of Nkomo’s statue comes from.

Nkomo was forced to flee the country in 1983 as the North Korean trained army unit went on a mass killing spree in Matabeleland and Midlands.

Nkomo alleged that he had gathered information that Mugabe had ordered a hit on him after his driver was shot dead at his Pelandaba house.

Mugabe never apologised for the massacres.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is named as one of the key figures during Gukurahundi as he was State Security minister at the time, has however opened public conversations over the massacres.

Commentator Effie Ncube said Nkomo was a giant figure who remained inimitable decades later.

 "Had he been our first leader as a country, the political and economic crisis and the genocide we have witnessed since independence would not have happened,” Ncube said.

“Nkomo was for the people, something that the current government is not."

Zipra Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi said Zimbabwe has not yet reached a ‘positive peace status’ that Nkomo wanted.

"Nkomo's ideas, if all were implemented, could have taken this country to very greater heights and there would be no tribalism since Nkomo was a uniting factor,” Magwizi said.

“As we remember Nkomo it is important that the day be declared a national holiday and heritage studies must be done in schools to show the real and true contribution that Nkomo made to this country.”

Former Ntabazinduna Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni said the history of Zimbabwe would never be complete without mentioning Nkomo.

“So we owe him great gratitude for that role,” Ndiweni said.

“His deeds speak to the masses that he is a hero.

“One does not become a hero because the current government confers that to him, it is the masses who know you as such."  

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