Liberation war rumpus

HARARE - Didymus Mutasa’s backers have accused Christopher Mutsvangwa of feeding the nation with lies about the liberation struggle.

This comes after Mutsvangwa, the Foreign Affairs deputy minister, claimed the Zanu PF administration secretary cannot claim the honour of liberating Zimbabwe since he was safely ensconced in London as guerrilla fighters waged a 16-year bush war back home against Ian Smith’s racist and oppressive regime.

Clearly riled by the outspoken views, the Presidential Affairs minister’s camp yesterday responded to the Norton Member of Parliament’s observations, unable to fight the urge to maintain their silence.

Never one for turning the other cheek, Mutasa’s attack dogs solicited an exclusive chat with the Daily News, having sharpened their fangs with razor blade precision.

Alfred Munonyara, a veteran of the struggle against minority rule and spokesperson of the pro-Mutasa “Concerned Citizens”, who served with Mutasa in Zanu London, mobilising resources for fighters on the war front, said Mutsvangwa’s comments were false, silly and unhelpful.

The spokesperson claimed Mutsvangwa was trying to portray the liberation war as misbegotten shambles and attempting to cast aspersions on the war record for the aspiring Zanu PF national chairman Mutasa.

Munonyara said he was shocked that even to this day, there are cadres such as Mutsvangwa all too happy to feed “a completely false” narrative about the war. By contrast, he insisted, Mutasa has served Zanu since the 50s with utmost distinction, an assertion rejected by Mutsvangwa.

Mutsvangwa’s August 16 interview with the official Herald newspaper has drawn both criticism and support from various political players — a row that can be described  as “the liberation war rumpus”.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Munonyara  said they wanted for posterity to record the truth that all well-meaning Zimbabweans must know about “Cde Didymus Noel Edwin Mutasa.”

Mutsvangwa was spewing faction-driven propaganda,  particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, he said.

Mutasa, who is also presidential affairs minister, had promised a news conference to respond to Mutsvangwa, but somehow stayed the pressa, only for his backers to come out swinging.

Munonyara said it has taken so long to respond because “for some of us the stage of shock and amazement has passed.”

“It is time to clear the air,” he told the Daily News.

“First we salute Cde Mutasa for responding to his junior member of our party and government, Cde Mutsvangwa, with silence,” Munonyara said in the exclusive interview.

“That why he has not only demonstrated his maturity but has also not bent down to Cde Mutsvangwa’s level but kept his incontestably lofty position.

“But those of us who know Cde Mutasa will not be silent.

“We shall put down here what we know about Cde Mutasa, on one side of the balancing scale and ask Cde Mutsvangwa to put his own liberation record on the other side of the scale. Then we want him to demonstrate his as wealthier than that of Cde Mutasa that he calls ‘vacuous war record’.” 

“We are concerned citizens desirous for the truth to be told,” Munonyara said. “We are non-political people.”

Munonyara described Mutsvangwa’s narrative as “shocking stuff”. He said the liberation war was far more complex than Mutsvangwa claimed.

“First, for the period between 1950 to 1973, we kindly ask Cde Mutsvangwa, to inform the nation what role he was playing in the liberation of our country?,” Munonyara said.

During this period, Munonyara said, Mutasa was a young student at Goromonzi Secondary School engaged in political tussles against student victimisation and participated in student protests that challenged the white regime in Rhodesia.

“In the mid-60s, Cde Mutasa, Guy Arthur Clutton Brock and their colleagues set up, against all odds, the Cold Comfort Farm Society, which genuine history of the Zimbabwe we know should refer to as one of pioneers of the so-called ‘invasion of white farms’,” Munonyara said.

He said Mutasa and his colleagues in the 70s fought a protracted battle against Rhodesian settlers in general, and the Ian Smith regime in particular, at Cold Comfort Farm Society.

He said throughout the 70s, Mutasa took care of detainees’ wives, including regularly ferrying them to Gonakudzingwa Prison to visit their incarcerated husbands, and looking after their children at Cold Comfort.

He said in the 60s and into the 70s, Mutasa endured running battles against the Smith regime in support and defence of Chief Tangwena and his people.

In 1969, Chief Rekayi Tangwena, probably one of the greatest traditional leaders in the post-First Chimurenga era, resisted the take-over of his ranch in Nyanga by the  Anglo-French Company.

Mutasa supported Chief Tangwena against the Smith regime’s “inhuman attacks on these defenceless people” in efforts to displace them from their ancestral homes, Munonyara said.

Mutasa was subsequently banned or prohibited from entering or remaining in Tribal Trust Lands or rural areas on July 17, 1970 in terms of Section 45(4) (b) of the African Affairs Act (Chapter 92), Munonyara explained.

In November 1970, Mutasa’s Cold Comfort was banned and closed by the Smith regime. His colleague Clutton Brock was deported to UK. Brock  is the first white person buried at the Heroes Acre, having been declared a national hero by the government.

Munonyara said on November 13, 1970, Mutasa was thrown into political detention where he served in solitary confinement in the Chinhoyi Prison in terms of Section 16 of the Emergency Powers (Maintenance of Law and Order) Regulations of 1970.

Later in 1971, Mutasa was incarcerated at the Harare Remand Prison together with President Mugabe and the likes of Morris Nyagumbo, Enos Nkala, Mark Nziramasanga, Morton Malianga and others.

Mutasa had to wed his wife in prison in October 1972, according to Munonyara.

On November 27, 1972, the Smith regime deported Mutasa from Rhodesia in terms of subsection (1) of Section 17 of the Emergency Powers (Maintenance of Law and Order) Regulations 1970.

“So, please, Cde Mutsvangwa, Cde Mutasa did not go to UK seeking green pastures,” Munonyara said.

“He was actually deported by the Smith regime after they could not convince their own tribunal that he should remain in detention and, they released him on condition that he leaves Rhodesia.”

In 1971 beyond 1973, Mutasa like the late Nevison Mukanganga Nyashanu, ferried young Rhodesian students to UK.

Munonyara said  a lot of them were now in various sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy, including him, who is now the Zimbabwe Institute of Drug and Alcohol Combating finance and administration head. 

In the mid 70’s in England, Mutasa was chairman of the UK district of Zanu. Munonyara said Mutasa ran successful campaigns, including vigils for lobbying against the intended hanging of Moven Mahachi, Morris Nyagumbo and John Mutasa.

“The Smith regime indeed gave in to these demands,” Munonyara said.

Mutasa was one of the delegates to the Geneva Conference in 1976.

In 1976 as Zanu UK chairman, he hosted President Mugabe and his then wife Sally in England, when the president went there to appraise the people that the war of liberation was still on and appealing for support for the struggle.

Mutasa went to Mozambique at the same time as Retired Brigadier Dr Felix Muchemwa, the late Dr Hebert Ushewokunze, Honourable Dr Sidney Sekeramayi and others, following the Zanu calls for people to come to the war front, Munonyara said.

“Cde Mutsvangwa, it did not take ‘plastic’ people, that you say Cde Mutasa is, to leave the UK and join the revolution,” he said.

“These were disciplined cadres who voluntarily responded to a clarion call.

“He could have taken up a job since he had completed his degree in politics by then.”

Mutsvangwa alleged Mutasa went to Mozambique to “cunningly assume the mantle of a great liberator and revolutionary by sliding into the ranks of triumphant fighters”. Munonyara said this was “very careless talk and regrettable lie.”

He said Mutasa and his wife in 1977 had to pack their bags for Maputo, leaving their young children in the custody of “Good Samaritans.”

“If we are not mistaken, it was during this period where you claimed your first record of fame by being interviewed… was it by the BBC at a refugee camp, in transit for guerrilla training. We stand to be corrected,” Munonyara said.

He said Mutasa was one of the Zanu delegates to the Malta Conference in 1978 and later the Lancaster Conference, that ushered in independence from minority white rule in 1980.

Munonyara claimed Mutsvangwa’s unrestrained attack on Mutasa was at the instigation of his wife who last month blamed the Zanu PF administration secretary for her defeat in the women’s league provincial elections in Manicaland.

“This is not exemplary character of a trained cadre and indeed it is not the first time you have done it,” Munonyara said, referring to Mutsvangwa’s attack on his boss Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Munonyara also rejected claims by Mutsvangwa that Mutasa “wrung out” a special house for himself and his wife in Maputo when he returned home from the UK and never lived with the freedom fighters in the bush.

Munonyara said the house given to Mutasa in Maputo was infact a flat that was made available to Zanu, courtesy of the Frelimo government.

“Those who remember what happened in Maputo tell us that both of the Mutasas and a few others escaped the bomb that killed Cde Tafirenyika and injured comrades John Shumba Mvundura, (Pemberayi) Bridget Charamba-Kadungure and (Tonderayi) Ester Rukweza Mudambo after they had had lunch together and went back to the office minutes earlier,” Munonyara said. “The bomb exploded as others were also going to the same offices.”

Mutsvangwa alleged Mutasa and his wife lived in a “safe haven far removed from possible bombings by the marauding racists.”

Mutsvangwa also controversially alleged that Mutasa was keen to “paramour his beautiful wife away from the watching Zanla guerilla comrades.”

“Cde Mutsvangwa, are you aware that this same wife that you would also no doubt give a ‘plastic’ label was the first woman Retired Brigadier General to come out of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” Munonyara said.

“We are sure you would allege the doyens of ZDF awarded this out of favouritism, but if you are a tried and tested war veteran as you claim, you would note this same wife survived the famous ZDF Wafa-Wafa training.”

Brigadier General Getrude Mutasa,  wife to the Presidential Affairs minister,  retired from the Zimbabwe National Army last October. She joined the liberation struggle in 1977, becoming the medical officer for Maputo and its peri-urban environs, where she was responsible for receiving, screening, treating and referring injured fighters from the war front, especially in the Gaza province.

Munonyara also rejected Mutsvangwa’s allegation that Mutasa influenced the former Zanu PF administration secretary Edgar Tekere into starting opposition party Zum and Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn to wrest power from Mugabe.

Describing the allegation as “a figment of your over ripe illogical imagination” which “should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves” Munonyara said  “even by a stretch of imagination, no one who knows Cde Mutasa would believe that he could ever betray Zanu PF or His Excellency president Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe in particular by creating the mentioned failed parties.”

Munonyara said Mutasa predicted in his book “The Rhodesian Black Behind Bars” that was published in 1974 after serving time with Mugabe in prison that the now 90-year-old Zanu PF leader was going to be Zimbabwe’s president.

“We observe that he (Mutasa) has never changed his allegiance and loyalty to him,” Munonyara said.

“We will not belabour this point because the truth speaks for itself. Those who know Cde Mutasa with good intentions know him by his undying loyalty to president Mugabe purely on his very bold, principled and unwavering character.”

Munonyara said Mutasa was a man with “a rich and selfless liberation history behind him.”

“He (Mutasa) does not praise himself like some of us,” Munonyara said.

“Birmingham University conferred him with an honorary doctorate degree in Politics in 1992. He does not talk about it nor insist that he be called doctor.”

Munonyara blasted Mutsvangwa’s “mistaken eloquence in the Queen’s language to mean intelligence but your very seemingly rich vocabulary is devoid of such simple words like gratitude and etiquette.”

Mutsvangwa has said he was sticking with everything he said about Mutasa.

Munonyara said: “It must also be recorded that this is a very sad state of affairs in our revolutionary party and country when junior members seek wider audience to deal with issues disregarding all party protocol.

“God forbid us to have leaders of this mantle. It is only correct for our party to rein such young overzealous and misdirected cadres failure of which will breed disaster and result in self destruction.”

Comments (9)

gore rino tichaonerera.

wakaah - 3 September 2014

Dog eat dog. we saw it coming, chased chematama away so you must first finish with each other, but we are watching. Your time is coming

Ngororombe - 3 September 2014

Well, Munonyara, if I am not mistaken, must be the brother-in -law to Didymus Mutasa. Mrs Mutasa's maiden surname is Munonyara. No wonder he can be the credible oracle for Mutasa. I, however, if given no option but to side with a faction, would not choose the Munangagwa faction. But these catfights must definitely come to an end. Politics is just but a dirty game as they say.

Dziva - 3 September 2014

If the truth be told every Zimbabwean participated in the liberation stuggle in different ways. Some carried guns, others cooked and fed the comrades, vamwe vachipa ma comrades intelligence about the enemy's movements, vamwe vachitsvaga rubatsiro kune dzimwe nyika. Comrade Chris Mutsvanga has said he stands by everything he said about Comrade Mutasa so I suggest the Daily News gives him an audience to respond to this article by Comrade Munonyarei. Ngatiregei kutamba nezita ra ED/Ngwena because his liberation credentials are there for everyone to discern. Why does Comrade Mutasa publicly castigates ED if he believes in following party protocol-he is equally culpable because his utterances fan division within party ranks. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Chief Charumbira - 3 September 2014

Stupid arguments indeed about Mutasa. Mutasa is a destroyer, an eliminator by 'juju'. He is a well known lover of Chinhoyi 'Diesel' samgoma. Please these war credentials mentioned are all fabricated. Mutasa is NOTHING in Manicaland, ZANU (PF) and Politiburo. He was the sellout undercover. Mutsvangwa was right.

HANDINYARI - 4 September 2014

Ngwena was just Mugabe's secretary, writing minutes of meetings. Nothing special about that guy. His only claim to fame is a supposedly planned act to blow the train in Masvingo when he was under 18. Thats all there is to his name. His activities came after independence and these include Gukurahundi, the short sleeves of 2008 and other harrssment activities against the opposition. He is known for being cruel to fellow zimbabweans but was mellow against Smith.

Tongogara - 4 September 2014

I think cde Mutasa erred by the gamatox speech, however what Chris is doing should not surprise anyone. The guy find it difficult to be led by someone else, those with long memories will remember him for his battles with Tsimba his former boss at the then ZBC he has no sense of etiquette. In short he has no capacity for leadership. Its pathetic.

Eramunah - 5 September 2014

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