Zanu PF founder Nkala dies

HARARE - Founding Zanu PF member Enos Nkala, who has been bedridden for the better part of this year, is no more.
He was 80.

The former Defence minister, who served in President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet soon after independence in 1980, died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare yesterday.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who did time with Nkala at the Harare Central Prison from 1962 to 1964, confirmed Nkala’s death.

“I can confirm that he died this morning (yesterday),” Gumbo said.

“He was a dynamic leader full of life and during the war he always made subversive statements because he had no respect for law and order (under colonial rule) and he never had any respect for Ian Smith so he was also arrested for making subversive statements,” said Gumbo.

Asked whether Nkala, who had turned into a fierce critic of Mugabe after retiring from politics would be declared a national hero, Gumbo said, “We haven’t sat to look into the matter  but there is no doubt that he will be conferred with hero status considering the contributions he made to the country.”

Despite the love-hate relationship that existed between Mugabe and Nkala, the two seemingly kept tabs on each other.

In March Mugabe spoke to Nkala via the phone and on some occasion, the Zanu PF leader visited Nkala at his Bulawayo home.

Zanu PF, which turned 50 this year, was formed in Nkala’s Highfield home in 1963 and during the protracted war of independence, the former Defence minister served in the Zanu high command popularly known as Dare Rechimurenga.

Following independence in 1980, he served as minister of Finance until 1983, when the portfolio was consolidated into Finance, Economic Planning and Development and handed over to the late Bernard Chidzero.

In 1985, he was appointed to the portfolios of Home Affairs and Defence, and during the latter, he was accused of having been involved in Gukurahundi atrocities, a charge he denied.

Sliding in the backwaters after the infamous Willogate scandal, Nkala retreated to Bulawayo, turning  into a fierce critic of his erstwhile comrade Mugabe.

Dumiso Dabengwa, who was imprisoned for five years during the Gukurahundi era while Nkala was in Mugabe’s Cabinet, said Nkala right to his death, distanced himself from the atrocities.

“When I was released from prison, I was one of Nkala’s best men at his wedding,” Dabengwa said.

“I had no grudge against him for my incarceration. Each time he talked about Gukurahundi, he disowned it and pointed to other people.”

Although Nkala had taken a backseat — somewhat fading into political oblivion — he was a fountain of inspiration for politicians across the divide.

Drumming up support for his presidential election bid just before the crunch July 31 polls, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai paid Nkala a visit at his Bulawayo home.

Yesterday, the MDC said the country has been robbed of a true hero who walked head and shoulders above political opportunists.

Douglas Mwonzora, MDC’s spokesperson, said the country is poorer without the outspoken politician.

“The MDC is very saddened by the death of Nkala, one of the founding fathers of Zimbabwean nationalism,” Mwonzora said.

“He will be remembered as a person who spoke against the continued leadership of President Mugabe.”

Comments (3)

Vada uri dako remunhu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hallen - 23 August 2013

It is time we RETHINK who deserves National Hero status. ZANU PF Politburo 'Is not fit for purpose', as it is a buddy scheme. We need to widen the scope of whose a National Hero. Even by ZANU PF Standards, President Mugabe, doesn't qualify ,as Mr Edgar Tekere once said that ' ...the war ended without Robert knowing how to salute, use a gun, & that he has no military credentials...' !

James Matongo - 29 August 2013

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