Remembering heroes, villains

HARARE -  It’s inconceivable that there are people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who celebrate the life of Moise Tshombe, whose name is synonymous with “sellout”.

Yet there are Germans who today still celebrate the life of Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi campaign caused millions of deaths in World War II.

Tshombe was characterised as an enemy of the independence of the Congo, the former Belgian colony plunged into a bloody war as diverse groups fought for control of its mineral wealth.

In Zimbabwe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Chief Chirau and others were associated with the “sellouts” who cooperated with Ian Smith against the independence of Zimbabwe.

In Angola, Jonas Savimbi’s name will long be associated with the campaign against independence from the Portuguese.

Unfortunately for him, Savimbi died a miserable death, with Agostinho Neto emerging as the first president of an independent Angola.

In South Africa, although the Inkanta Freedom Party of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi still exists as a political force, it was once associated with the denial of true freedom for the African people from the evil that was apartheid.

Recently, throughout the world, the United Nations celebrated, on July 18, Mandela Day, in honour of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first black president of an independent South Africa.

In Zimbabwe, there was an occasion honouring Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, a leader of the independence struggle and a key member of the first Zimbabwe government in 1980.

His PF-Zapu party formed a coalition government with that of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF. This was an occasion to remember his death from natural causes in 1991. He was still in the Mugabe government, but was no longer as powerful as he had been at the beginning.

What had intervened was Gukurahundi, a virtual civil war in which some of Nkomo’s supporters had fought against Mugabe’s forces, resulting in the deaths of 20 000, most of them Nkomo’s supporters.

To this day, there are Zimbabweans who believe the carnage was totally unnecessary. Dialogue between the two leaders could have led to peace without bloodshed.

Why this did not happen will remain a vexing question for future historians. What was really at stake here — the love for peace or the love for power?

The coalition government formed by the two parties could have lasted longer if everyone had been influenced in their decision by a desire to see the country through a peaceful path to a truly democratic dispensation.

That a second attempt at a coalition government, more than 20 years later, lasted only one term, has led people to speculate on the cause of the ruptures. Is there something within Zanu PF which makes it difficult to last in a coalition arrangement?

The party may not accept the accusation that its problem is its commitment to the one-party system, which it has embraced since its formation. The party was Marxist-Leninist from the beginning, with its leader declaring publicly “I am Marxist-Leninist.”

The accusation may be contested on the grounds that Zanu PF did tolerate its participation in two coalition arrangements, and opted out only after the other parties failed to co-operate.

With the news that Zanu PF would still go into a coalition with the MDC under certain conditions — there is an opportunity for both sides to test their sincerity.

The MDC could insist that its leader take up the presidency and the Zanu PF leader the premiership. This could be worth a try. It could reveal, for all to see, who is against a coalition arrangement.

    Comments (2)

    Experienced journalist writing such hogwash nonsense. Distorted historical facts. Mugabe's forces fighting Nkomo forces in "gukurahundi" what nonsense!

    saidi - 28 July 2014

    To be honest Muzorewa and Chirau were never against Independence, they wanted the independence as much as an other zimbabwean wanted. Now if they did not want independence whi signed the peace agreement which led to the independence. It is just the UN did not understand the situation in Zimbabwe hence the problem we now have were we are made to kneel down to our oppressors because they "brought independence". Zimbabwe would have been better if we had continued from that Gvt because the name Zimbabwe was going to triumph anyway later on.

    Maita Manyuka - 28 July 2014

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