Forgotten in life, death

HARARE - After my last instalment in the Daily News, some dubious news sources, some fugitives from the law in South Africa whom Interpol have neglected to apprehend, were all over the place unintelligently spreading rumours about alleged payments that the Daily News made into a non-existent CBZ account which they claim is in my name.

I have never banked with CBZ in this life despite having former classmates and college mates occupying very senior managerial positions at the bank. The daft Zanu PF propagandists also failed to explain why the Daily News, a paper they claim is owned 10 percent by former Vice President Joice Mujuru, would pay me for “propaganda” they allege am doing for the former VP under a nom de plume, Freddy Mutoda.

Despite this foolish propaganda and blatant lying by a supposed “family newspaper” that the permanent secretary in the ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba, has taken as an employment haven for relatives, I have chosen to tell the story of Amos Kademaunga, the surviving member of the Crocodile Gang who has come out disputing claims by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he was part of the Crocodile Gang.

This is for the reason that the patently unwise propagandists using the Sunday Mail, have been insinuating that Kademaunga did not fight in the liberation struggle. I chose to spend three hours with him and others that were with him in the struggle and found out that Kademaunga, nom de guerre, Sipho Ncube, is a bitter man.

Despite the sacrifices he made for this country, first as a 16-year-old who defied the entrapments of youth, fear of death and prospects of a life in independent Zambia, to first join the Crocodile Gang and engage in sabotage activities in the Melsetter area of Manicaland, and second, as a 23-year-old ex-convict angered by the execution of his colleagues, Victor Mlambo and James Dhlamini, to join the liberation movement in Zambia, Kademaunga is clearly a neglected former freedom fighter.

Having worked with liberation stalwarts like Hebert Chitepo at the Zanu offices in Lusaka in 1971 and also worked closely with legendary Zanla guerrilla commander Josiah Magama Tongogara, who gave him his nom  de guerre at Tunduma Border Post in 1972, one would have thought if there was any benefit that selflessness could afford a living soul, surely Kademaunga was long overdue for that kind of reward.

Having trained as a freedom fighter at Mgagao, Kademaunga became a detachment commander at Kongwa later becoming a member of general staff at the camp. When Kongwa was closed in 1975, he went back to Mgagao and was appointed chief director of logistics before being arrested for yet undisclosed charges together with a lot of senior Zanla commanders, including now commissioner-general of police, Augustine Chihuri, and former ZBC chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere among the many cadres arrested in 1976 at the behest of President Robert Mugabe and Zanla.

Despite his decorated liberation war history, including being part of the Crocodile Group which heralded the Second Chimurenga, Kademaunga has nothing to show for it.

What is more interesting is that even the 37,5 hectares that he got during the fast-track land reform has been taken away, allegedly by army officials on the pretext that the land belonged to a dead spirit medium of Mbuya Nehanda.

Kademaunga says 20 of the 37,5 hectares have been taken away by the army which he says is providing 24-hour security at a farm which belongs to a late woman who is alleged to have been a medium of the Nehanda spirit.

Kademaunga is bitter that despite his numerous efforts and the proper demarcation maps that the ministry of Lands has provided to the parties involved in the land dispute, the army officials who have taken his piece of land still retain it on the pretext that it is part of the 820 hectares the army is reserving for the dead “spirit medium”.

Having led a difficult childhood in colonial Rhodesia which did not allow him to go to school, and having spent seven years in prison for his involvement with the Crocodile Gang, followed by another nine years in the liberation struggle, Kademaunga’s life did not enable him to pursue personal advancement to an extent that he had to immediately go back to Zambia in 1980 when Zimbabwe got independence because he could not secure a decent job in the country that he fought so hard to liberate.

The irony is that it is the Tanzanian embassy in Harare that later gave him a job as a driver from 1981-86. Between 1987 and 1997, he worked as a supervisor at Caves Motel before joining the ministry of Local Government where he worked for nine years until he retired because of age

As an unemployed war veteran, without even a pension from the Local Government ministry, Kademaunga is now facing a new challenge of land dispossession in the wrangle that he alleges is being fronted by the army at the instruction of Brigadier General Anselem Sanyatwe.

The irony is that Kademaunga’s 20 hectares of the 37,5 that he has, are being taken away to add to the 820 that belong to a dead spirit medium.

He complains that State resources, army and police details, are wasted guarding a farm whose owners are long dead yet a living war veteran is being robbed of his small piece of land, ostensibly because army generals, his colleagues during the war, are giving that land to a dead person.

Kademaunga believes that because of factionalism in Zanu PF, which has cascaded to affiliates such as the war veterans, it is difficult for him to take up his issue even to the minister of War Veterans, Christopher Mutsvangwa, because he is perceived to be aligned to former vice president Mujuru.

He alleges that pseudo war veterans in the province, who have always been jealousy of real war veterans, have managed to torpedo the real liberation war fighters and relegated them, with the help of politicians who are afraid of the genuine war veterans, to less influential positions in Zanu PF or completely kick them out of the party.

Kademaunga is bitter the current crop of government officials, including its head, President Robert Mugabe, seems not to care about him in this life and his hanged colleagues even in death.

He is adamant senior government officials, including president

Mugabe, know where his colleagues, Dhlamini and Mlambo were buried and no effort has been made to identify their remains and give them a decent burial at the National Heroes Acre where, according to Kademaunga, “they claim heroes should be buried”.

Kademaunga argues that his slain colleagues were buried at Harare Maximum Prison and the area where they are buried has been planted some lawn but he alleges senior prison officers know the exact place where they are buried.

He insists if there are heroes of the liberation struggle, the five members of the Crocodile

Gang, William Ndangana, James Dhlamini, Victor Mlambo, Master Tresha Mazwani and himself, more than deserved that accolade for they were the first to tackle the colonial regime using force when all what the nationalists were doing was direct non-violent confrontation.

He argues that honouring only one of them, Ndangana, as the only hero, betrays the sacrifice that the Gang, as a collective, gave in starting the armed struggle to free Zimbabwe.

Kademaunga insists that he is not after government freebies, but is only demanding some modicum of respect like being left to farm on the 37,5 hectares he was given during the fast-track land reform.

“I am pained that I am always told the army generals have given the instructions to have the 20 hectares taken away from me. I am left with just 17 and this being done by people I worked with during the war makes it even more painful,” he said almost in tears.

He argues that if the government does not care for him, after all he has done for the country, it was certain nothing has been done to the families left by Mlambo and Dhlamini and this pains him every time he thinks of the sacrifices his group, and many others, have made to attain independence yet the only thank you they are now getting from some government ministers is to be called “drunkards.”

Kademaunga insists that the freedom his generation fought for has been taken away from most Zimbabweans who are now living in fear of the same government that they fought to bring. He argues that since he came out in the open to set the record straight about Vice President Mnangagwa’s alleged involvement with the Crocodile Gang, he is constantly being followed by strange people some of whom have had the audacity to confront him and ask him how much he was paid to expose the Vice President.

He also bemoaned the lack of freedom and honesty in government and Zanu PF, and bemoaned that after the dismissal of Mujuru, the country and Zanu PF is now being led “by the women’s league” and that the “presidium has been completely cowed by some love-potion” and is either too weak to provide leadership, or very tired to even care about where the country is going.

For Kademaunga, the only reminder of the excitement with which he sacrificed his life for the freedom of the country, is a large tattoo of the crocodile on his left hand with the inscription “Crocodile Gang 1963” and another one on his right hand inscribed “Burning Spear”.

Those tattoos give him pride for they remind him of the worthy sacrifices he gave, albeit, to an ungrateful nation and its leadership.

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