The whole story and political legacy of comrade Joshua Nkomo is to big for a small quick and brief article. This here is just a brief parts of his legacy of his history and what he achieved, while becoming the Father of Zimbabwe. The man who had deserved to be the President and be one who ruled as a just ruler in the Republic after the fall of Ian Smith’s minority government. It wasn’t only now disgraced President Robert Mugabe who liberated Zimbabwe, there we’re several people behind that. It was the now War Veterans and also other political leaders. There was also different external support of both ZAPU and ZANU, ZAPU was supported with weapons from Soviet, while ZANU was supported by Chinese and still is today. ZAPU through progression made a Patriotic Front. With time also got part of the one-party system and became disfranchised by Mugabe into the ZANU-PF.
Nkomo did a lot in his political career from being a Union leader and into a fully fledged Nationalist. Standing against the imperialists, even being questioned for his negotiations and his mindset towards the colonizers. Even so, he pursuit the goal and changed methods with time. He went from being allies, went into exile several times and even feared for his life. Because he stood by the cause, the liberation and freedom. While Mugabe used the liberation for his own personal gain and to take total control, one of the casualties was Nkomo and his tribe. Therefore, the cost of his liberation are still evident today. As ZANU-PF ate up his party, but his legacy will live on. Because he was steadily working on the quest for liberation not only from the British, but from a government who took away the freedom from its citizens.
Secret telegram to Nkomo in 1982:
“In September 1982, British government learnt that Nkomo’s forces were upset that he joined Mugabe and facilitated the arrest of Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku” (…) “The full letter from Zipra forces to Joshua Nkomo who was at the time a minister in Mugabe’s government is believed to have triggered Gukurahundi: “We are declaring that we are no more commanders. Why are you supporting Mugabe the puppet and not returning Dabengwa and other commanders who are in jail? Why are you campaigning that the tourists be returned before our other demands are met? We want Dabengwa and Masuku from you now, Joshua because you are the one who caused them to be arrested. (The reason for this you know. You told us at Gwai.You are afraid of being arrested).This means you want to be a friend of puppet Mugabe, the one you were saying was a dog. This s the last warning until Masuku and other commanders are freed.To us ZIPRA forces, Zapu military wing, you are our enemy number 1.We shall prove it by action.(Do you remember saying a man keeps a club?). We will meet at the unknown capitalism, Zimbabwe. Down with puppet Mugabe. Down with Zanu PF. The war must be prepared for. We have the tourists too until our demands (B) are met” (Mawire, 2016).
Nkomo in 1983:
“In retrospect, I now believe that I and ZAPU were deceived and cheated by you and your party when you talked of unity, reconciliation, peace and security. I now honestly and sincerely believe that when you invited us to take part in your government you believed that we would reject your offer and set ourselves up in strong opposition to you and thereby label us disgruntled rejected plotters” (…) “It is now obvious to me that when you demoted me from the Ministry of Home Affairs which you knew was negotiated for a purpose at the time you invited us to take part in your government; that while you knew that we felt it was necessary for us to take part in one of the security ministries (Defence or Home Affairs) so that the former ZIPRA men drafted into the ZNA and ZRP may feel confident, thereby solidify both the army and the police, you deliberately took that action. It is clear you wanted us to pull out of your government at that time so as to destabilize the army and the police, create dissidents out of the deserting ZIPRA men and then call us plotters against your government” (…) “The double tragedy of Zimbabwe today is, firstly, that the routine and administrative use of detention, torture and arbitrary repression has been adopted by an independent government, and secondly, that this government uses the very same mercenaries and torturers as the former regime used against the struggling people. In fact the situation today is in some respects is even worse, as our government has abandoned even those standards of bourgeois legality which the Smith regime generally attempted to hide their repression behind. Under that regime you could be detained but a least you were more likely to be issued with a detention order. You were therefore, less likely to simply disappear as is the case today. The mercenaries and torturers used by the former regime are known and are very few, and therefore their exclusion from our security organs could not have disrupted those organs” (…) “One of the most disgraceful and shaming aspects of our independence which is difficult to defend, is that we have taken the methods and men used to oppress, torture and kill our people and tried to use them to consolidate our ‘independence’. You cannot take weapons, methods and people designed to defend colonial fascism and try to use to them defend the people. It is just not possible. Today in Zimbabwe the same torturers that Smith used against the people are back in business ‘defending a people’s government’. They must smile to themselves when they are ordered to continue their torture of patriots by an independent government” (…) “This is not government, it is the abuse of government, an abuse which transforms the rule of law into the law of rule. As such it cannot lead to a free, united, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe. But to one in which oppression, division, violence and poverty will shadow all our hopes, and make a mockery of the freedom struggle in which so many heroes gave their lives” (Nkomo, 1983)
Nkomo in 1984:
“‘We believe that what is happening has not been necessarily ordered by the authorities but that young men are doing things on their own. But when you appeal to the government for action and they don’t do anthing, you come to believe that some of these things are arranged,’ Nkomo said ‘We must fight against these things. You cannot have a one-party state with people torn to pieces by tribalism and hatred unless those in power are confused and continue with this gospel of hate,’ he said” (UPI, 1984).
From his own book:
“In his account, Nkomo was careful to distinguish between the new ZANU-PF government and ZANU-PF as a party. While he criticised ZANU-PF as a party for trying to kill him, Nkomo (1984, p. 1) remained committed to the newly independent government: Robert Mugabe had decided to have me out of the way, and he evidently did not care what method was used. But I hold the legitimate government of Zimbabwe innocent of this atrocity. Mugabe was acting not as prime minister, but as leader of his party, ZANU […]. As leader of ZANU he acted outside the law: but the law and the constitution of Zimbabwe remain in force, and I hold the ruling party, not the lawful government, responsible for the attempt on my life” (…) “It is not too late to change all that, to muster the collective energy of our people and build the new Zimbabwe we promised all those long years of suffering and struggle. During my brief exile in 1983 I appealed in this way to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, calling as a start for a national conference of all the country’s interest groups, under his chairmanship, to begin the process of reconciliation. He did not answer then. Perhaps in the interval between writing this book and its publication he will change his mind and reply constructively. For my part, I shall continue working to that end. Long Live Zimbabwe!” (Ndlovu-Gasheni, 2010).
“Both Smith and Kaunda chose Nkomo as the right candidate for negotiations for two reasons. First, because it was perceived, he was a generally acceptable figure among Zimbabweans, also as a possibly leader of an independent black government. Second, Kaunda in particular saw Nkomo as an astute negotiator who would not betray his people by negotiating for nothing less than majority rule. To Kaunda, Nkomo had already shown good political negotiating skills throughout his career as the leader of SRANC, NDP, and now ZAPU. Although the talks broke down over the timing of the introduction of the majority rule, Nkomo was willing to compromise on some aspects in his quest for independence. One thing that he could not compromise on though was the need for political independence and equality on a one man, one vote basis” (…) “Undoubtedly, the memory of Nkomo’s contributions to the decolonization of Zimbabwe, as father of Zimbabwean nationalism, astute and untiring negotiator, nationalist and subsequently in the postcolonial Zimbabwe, statesman, will forever be part of our history. That is what perhaps Eddison Zvogbo, a onetime Minister of Justice, when he positively reflected on Nkomo’s legacy a few days after his death. He stated, ‘It is true that all of us die, but some truly don’t die. It will never be possible for Joshua Nkomo’s name to vanish from our history. Josh will never die’” (Sibanda, 2017).
This is just minor tales of the political maverick and ambitious Nkomo was and his wishes for the new Zimbabwe. His vision didn’t happen and Mugabe took control. The state didn’t significantly change. He also became a part of ZANU-PF government, even after the slaughter of his ethnic brothers. That stain has former been part of ZANU-PF and the oppressive acts of Mugabe and his henchmen. One of them has now become the President Emmerson Mnangagwa. There are several other leaders who participated in these events. While Nkomo went into exile and later came back again.
I have just focused on the early 1980s and the change from Smith to Mugabe government, where Nkomo got squeezed and his leadership got ceased.
But let end with the word of ZAPU Spokesperson Iphithule kaMaphosa earlier this year:
“Since the departure of the great visionary and father of the nation, Zimbabwe was plunged into all forms of anarchy and disorder with corruption, nepotism, tribalism, looting and sheer disregard of the constitution becoming the order of day. It became clear as to who was fighting these vices while it exposed Mugabe’s government both as instigators and perpetrators of these vices that has seen the demise of the once prosperous and strong economy to become a huge heap of ruins” (…) “His were aspirations of nation building with equality, dignity and fairness being cornerstone values of a democratic nation state of Zimbabwe. He abhorred tribalism and racism as practiced by the current government. He abhorred corruption which has today crippled the country’s economy. Violence was never part of his vocabulary. As we remember the great Father Zimbabwe, we will always strive to return Zimbabwe to where and what it should be, that is at peace, equality and an economic powerhouse it was. This can only be achieved when we all revisit and embrace Dr Nkomo’s values of peace building and respect for human life. The liberator he was, he conserved human life and that must be emulated, even by the current regime in Zimbabwe that feds on blood of innocent citizens who have died of poverty induced hunger and from violence that has been meted on them since 1980” (Iphithule kaMaphosa, 2017).
I think that is how this article should end. Peace.
Iphithule kaMaphosa – ‘ ZAPU commemorates Dr Joshua Nkomo, the President Zimbabwe never had’ (01.07.2017) link: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-press+release-byo-113199.html
Mawire, Gift – ‘Secret telegram that triggered Gukurahundi reveales Joshua Nkomo called Robert Mugabe a dog’ (16.11.2016) link: http://www.thezimbabwenewslive.com/zimbabwe-30252-secret-telegram-triggered-gukurahundi-reveales-joshua-nkomo-called-robert-mugabe-dog.html
Nkomo, Joshua – ‘Joshua Nkomo letter to Robert Mugabe from exile in the UK’ (24.12.2013) – Nkomo letter to Mugabe: “ INFORMATIVE LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER MUGABE’ (07.07.1983) link: https://www.google.no/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwip36LVruzXAhXmKJoKHcgWACUQFghHMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fnehandaradio.com%2F2013%2F12%2F24%2Fjoshua-nkomo-letter-to-robert-mugabe-from-exile-in-the-uk%2F&usg=AOvVaw3NKWJ6SwNORyTQ4AnGWQQb
Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. and Willems, W. (2010). Reinvoking the past in the present: changing
identities and appropriations of Joshua Nkomo in post-colonial Zimbabwe. In: African
Identities 8(3): 191-208.
Sibanda, Eliakim M. – ‘The Contributions of Joshua Nkomo to the Liberation of Zimbabwe’ (2017), Cananda
UPI – ‘Opposition leader Joshua Nkomo accused the Zimbabwe government Sunday…’ (11.03.1984) link: https://www.upi.com/Archives/1984/03/11/Opposition-leader-Joshua-Nkomo-accused-the-Zimbabwe-government-Sunday/6579447829200/