Mugabe never trusted ex-Zipra guerillas — Sibanda

HARARE - Firebrand former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was last year expelled from Zanu PF alongside ex-vice president Joice Mujuru, party cadres like ex-spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, among a host of others.

Our Chief Writer Fungi Kwaramba talks to the fiery former war veterans leader about his life, the armed struggle and the post-independence era. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: When did you start political activism?

A: Political activism here in Zimbabwe can be traced far back.

No one can say I started activism on this particular day.

Historically, our forefathers were defeated in a war to defend this country and Lobengula disappeared.

The reason why he disappeared being that a king does not surrender but lives on so that other generations are born into that war until the community’s dreams are attained. I was born in Sipepa, Tsholotsho on January 1, 1958 in an unaccomplished war with the task to free our people.

Q: When did you go into the bush?

A: The problem with that is some people are very good at saying I crossed the border on this day but the fact is that I crossed the border when I had grown enough.

It is very good for (Phelekezela) Mphoko to say that he had a radar that followed me and saw that I joined the struggle when I was 11. But I was born in a very politically active family. I was detained several times by the Smith regime. In our family, the struggle was in us.

I first attempted to cross the Zambezi but got captured. I was still very young and then for the second time, I crossed with other guerrillas into Botswana.

From there we went to Zambia and then finally to Angola where we were given assignments, I became an instructor, from being an ordinary soldier to platoon commander, then I became a company commander.

The struggle was done in many phases. There was a stage of recruiting then that of training. Some became logistics people while some were sent to the front. The struggle developed that way.

Q: What is your level of education?

A: I was educated in the struggle and acquired qualifications of a revolutionary. This is what concerns me most not academics.

The task and what I was trained in to undertake was the armed struggle and the building of this nation after independence and to unite this country.

Q: Where did you go after the war?

A: In 1980, I was in Gwayi then I moved from Gwayi to the Zimbabwe Military Academy in Gweru and then there was a dispute between us and Bmatt (British Military Advisory Training Team).  They looked down upon former Zipra officers because I was a company commander and was joining at a senior level.

I was sent back to Brady Barracks and then to Llewellyn and from there, I was sent back to Gwayi. It then happened that (the late Father Zimbabwe Joshua) Nkomo was removed from the ministry of Home Affairs and I joined him as a security aide in charge of intelligence.

Q: When did this happen?

A: That was around 81, 82.

Q: As a personal aide, what do you remember about that time?

A: There were a lot of difficulties, most of which were political and you can only trace it from what happened at Lancaster.

At some stage, it was agreed that we come as the Patriotic Front and Nkomo came back here believing that and President Robert Mugabe changed goal posts.

Soon after that there was a meeting between president Mugabe and the South African government. It was a private meeting that took place in Mozambique.

After that private meeting, you should understand what happened in the struggle.

Armed wings from different countries had alliances. Zapu was aligned to the ANC.

Pac was closer to Zanu PF. As countries became independent, the fear of the South African Boer regime was that if Zapu took leadership of this country, then the ANC would have bases closer to the South African border. That explains why the South African intelligence worked with the Central Intelligence Organisation.

Q: Do you have examples?

A: If you look at Operation Chinyavada, which was basically to destroy Zipra guerrillas, it was targeting comrades to kill them while they were sleeping. It was the same operation that jailed me.

I was jailed so many times. They were using the State of Emergency that gave the CIO power to detain people without charge. It was during that time that there were night courts, one of which tried Sydney Malunga in Gweru.

The night courts were a part of Operation Chinyavada. That led to the creation of organisations like Super Zapu which was created by the South Africans and the CIO.

Its purpose was to get disgruntled Zipra guerrillas who had run away to other countries and turn them against the government.

Like what they did to Matsanga in Mozambique and with Savimbi after the liberation of Angola.

That operation was meant to destroy Zapu. The destruction of Zapu was the destruction of ANC.

These were the issues that led to the disappearance of some Europeans. Look at how the matter went to court and the accused were tried.

Anana (people like) Ngwenya, were they war veterans? They were fast-tracked to the gallows simply because there was something these people were hiding. This is where the problem is with Zapu. It wanted things to be clear but it was forces of intelligence who created these things just to discredit Zapu in the eyes of the Europeans.

Q: Was there any connivance between Zanu and the British?

A: I cannot say much now but I can tell you the same British today who are mad about the goings-on now are the same British who knighted Mugabe in 1985 and 1986 and don’t tell me that they were blind.

Their Bmatt forces were infested with the MI intelligence and the British intelligence. They went as far as Mbalabala in the heart of Matabeleland, so they saw it with their own eyes. Why didn’t they act? All these things happened because they regarded Mugabe as a radical and Nkomo as a communist.

Then there was a war against Nkomo, an attack on Nkomo. We took bullets in Masvingo.

His bullet-proof car was attacked and as his bodyguards, we tried to provide the bullet-proof car with cover using a non-bullet-proof vehicle and as a result, our vehicle lost all the windows and Nkomo’s car was left with all those dents.

Q: What time did this take place?

A: During the day and I can tell you I survived many assassination attempts. I cannot talk about all of them but the time will come because at times we speak louder when we are dead.

Q: What did Nkomo say about this?

A: Nkomo believed that Mugabe was being misled. He believed that some people around Mugabe were misleading him but every time he sought to see Mugabe, he was always blocked as is happening now.

The 5th Brigade came and killed people; there were some we rescued and some we could not.

Q: Do you have examples?

A: Take Jimmy Thutha and then Major Ndlovu who was killed along Force Road. Thutha was secretary for defence for Zapu and we worked closely to investigate the matter.

The State claimed it was an ambush by dissidents but our investigations showed that the person who killed him was very close to the car.

Those 5th Brigade soldiers; when they went to court they were given free bail. Later, they were sentenced to death but they never lost their salaries even when they were in Chikurubi. They were freed soon after the Unity Accord and we know them. Even when this had happened, Nkomo believed that the best solution was unity.

He was against hitting back even though he had soldiers. They then accused us of stashing arms and our commander Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa were arrested.

They went to court and were acquitted but were arrested again. Dabengwa survived but Masuku died.

We remained with one armed struggle commander — Rex Nhongo — and we are told that light from a candle caused a fire in his house and he was burnt to death when his bed is close to a window.

Curiously, he couldn’t walk out. A general! A guerrilla! Let us say he was strangled, I don’t know.

We go to the Heroes Acre and we have big posters saying commander par excellence and the politburo declares him a hero but a few years later we are told he worked with the enemy. He wanted to kill president Mugabe and his wife is also accused of that.

We are asking whether it is the same politburo that made him a hero that is now saying he is a villain. It’s either they were lying at that time or they are lying now. The most interesting thing is the similarities of charges laid against the two generals. The other was allowed to live and then died mysteriously but even in death he is being accused of plotting against Mugabe.

Q: So was there a systematic elimination of the commanders?

A: The fact is that both the commanders of the armed struggle are no more. Those who fought for this country are not wanted.

And this is counter-revolutionary and we now believe that these people have deployed themselves so close to the president and now he is a captive.

He is no longer the same Mugabe that we knew. The wife is suffering because we have chosen to be ruled by opinion and not by law.

Q: Are you bitter about your dismissal?

A: Not at all. But the law should be followed. When I was dismissed they took disgruntled war veterans who had lost elections previously.

Some were not even party members. They know the truth. The people who were at that congress know it was fraudulent.

For example, president Mugabe again and again before that congress repeated that the congress was going to be elective and that the usual custom of choosing the top four would be done at the same time during congress.

When people were working towards that, there was a sharp turn and they said there was a new development and people were now going to be selected by the president and he would not do that during the congress but a week after.

So, a confused situation led to a confused outcome. You ask people who attended that congress, they were not happy but they were shouting slogans that were not Zanu PF slogans.

They were talking about gamatox and weevils. Those are not Zanu PF slogans. Congress used the Zanu PF name and venue to get into power.

In any organisation, the amendment of the constitution is done soon after the congress and not before. Congress is the supreme body of the party and the only body that can change the constitution after the resolutions passed in a congress but there was a shifting of goalposts and that is not acceptable in a civilised world.

Comments (15)

Problem with people like you Jabu you are confused & hence why you are evasive with your answers. You might not necesarily remember the dates you crossed or joined the struggle but you can give a gestimate and say i think i might have been between 15-17 & not give non-answers like you did. That said you were forthcoming with Mugabe's dates for Knighthood albeit incorrect dates, btw he was knighted once in 1994. That said you have known the rot and all the crimes but you chose to join Zanu knowing all these things and you went around beating people for Mugabe under the pretext of re-educating them on how to vote and whom to vote for. Is that what you went to the "bush" for?

Lt General - 1 June 2015

Why should Jabulani mention this now, some of us we knew this long back, when he was busy running around for Zanu pf like a headless chicken he chose to be silent about all these things , now that its becoming cold out there , he wants to pretend that he has damning information about Mugabe and Zanu Pf, well Jabulani my friend of all the people who are not trusted you the most untrusted person

sherpardmoyo@yahoo,com - 1 June 2015

I lauhged and laughed at this interview!! The f%$£ng guy cannot even provide an answer..simple questions like how old, when, what education etc. Stupid dude Jabu. Everyone is laughing at this useless guy. He is a faggot to say the least.

Garikayi - 1 June 2015

Muri kutukirei Jabu iye achitsanangura zvaakaita? Imi makambotiitireiwo munyika?

binya - 1 June 2015

mazimbo, chikuru chatakawana kubva mu regime yedu iintolerance. Regai wanaotaura waraure kusvika tanzwa zvese. Ngazvitaurwe wane nzewe wonzwa wane mastrategy wo strategisa

madagara kasulumane - 1 June 2015

This interview has tall stories with a lot of hear say evidence. The guy has no clue on any of the subjects he was asked questions on and shows clearly that he has no idea about ZIPRA and its operations or command structure.

Thsolo Dube - 1 June 2015

Jabulani Sibanda has verbal diarrhea. If he knew all this information all along why did he campaign for sanctions to be removed against Mugabe? Why the million man march for a man you despised and didn't trust? Why complain when you have been chucked out? Mugabe used you guys, and used you to great effect. You thought you were in the pound seat and felt nothing for us the POVO. Shame on you, may your conscience destroy you for the rest of your days

JB - 2 June 2015

A clear case of sour grapes. I advise Jabu to put to good use the money he was paid as a key Gamatox strategist. the scheme failed but surely they wont demand their money back. It now seems true, claims by Dabengwa and the late hero JL Nkomo that the guy is bogus ex-combatant. His present position and immediate past activities are at variance. Could be a split personality personality.

aggrey gumisai mutasa - 2 June 2015

Dofo rematofo ! Can not answer simple questions. His narratives muddled. No wonder why you were used.You are dull man !

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 2 June 2015

haasi dofo dofo ndiwe hanty ndotyme yaabvunzwa iwewe wakaregerei kuenda kunomubvunza soon after those incidents waityei. uyu journalist abvunzwa akaudzwa netym yake iwe kungwarira comment

magarine - 2 June 2015

Some of us have the spirit of the devil. Why cant we dialogue in a civilised manner. Bitterness of the toungue is indicative of an empty mind. What is happening is the parting of the red sea. the seperation of wheat from tares. Let splits be there everywhere and very soon the real veterans will find a new gathering and off we go.

michael dhlegdu - 2 June 2015

I think we should forget this sad chapter in our history. Sibanda, at Conemarra it is former Zipra guerillas who killed 36 former Zanla guerillas in their sleep, not the other way round. I think those who were not yet born or were not old enough in the early eighties are being taken for a ride by the likes of Jabulani's who want to twist history , taking advantage of the fact that most Zimbabweans have only a vague account of what transpired during those days. We know the truth Jabu, don't think nobody was there when it happened.

machakachaka - 2 June 2015

your days are numbered jabu. repent or face the hard coming your way. mugabe made you torture in name of protect the country's freedom. he did the same way the devil uses people sometimes.

see - 2 June 2015

Only Dumiso Dabengwa can set Jabulani free or alight for his role within Zipra ranks. From this interview I can make my own conclusion that JB was never a plattoon commander worse still a company commander. Thats why he failed the job interview at ZMA in Gweru. He had no references and knowledge of job description of a company commander. Jb was just an opportunist. I do admire though the journey he took from Tsholotsho all the way to Angola just being with the big boys. I think he liked the meat and chickens the villagers fed them.

X-MAN IV - 2 June 2015

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