'Tongogara wanted Nkomo to lead Zim'

HARARE - Respected Zanu PF elder Cephas Msipa has suggested that liberation war hero Josiah Tongogara, would have pushed for the late “Father Zimbabwe”, Joshua Nkomo, to become Zimbabwe’s leader when the country gained its independence from Britain in April 1980 if he had not died ahead of Uhuru.

Writing in his well-received book titled In Pursuit of Freedom and Justice: A Memoir, Msipa says Tongogara was a moderate politician whose views as the commander of the Zanla forces carried a lot of weight and who apparently wanted Nkomo to become independent Zimbabwe’s first black leader.

Msipa claims that Tongogara had before his death expressed his willingness to have Nkomo lead the Patriotic Front — a coalition of the then Zanu and Zapu that fought for the country’s independence.

Sadly, Msipa says, Tongogara had died before that wish was realised — on December 26 in 1979 — amid differences regarding the exact circumstances in which the revered guerrila commander had died.

“PF Zapu was as shocked as Zanu PF about Tongogara’s death. We considered him to be a moderate in his party, and much more pragmatic than many of his colleagues. His views carried a great deal of weight.

“My own interaction with him in Geneva and Lancaster House left me with the impression of a leader prepared for unity under the Patriotic Front. He was very warm towards me, and affectionately called me ‘mudhara’ (old man).

“Nkomo was profoundly shocked by the death of Josiah Tongogara. It was thought that Nkomo’s chances as a co-leader of the Patriotic Front in the coming (1980) elections would have been better had Tongogara been alive.

“His death robbed us all of a great leader with a vision of a united people,” Msipa writes.

In 2012 Tongogara’s widow, Angeline, claimed that she was not given the opportunity to view her husband’s body in Mozambique, adding that she still had many questions about how he died.

Painting a contrasting picture between Zanla and Zipra forces when they returned home at independence, Msipa says the Zanla group led by the late Solomon Mujuru looked sullen while that of Zipra, led by Dumiso Dabengwa and the late Lookout Masuku, was jubilant.

And with Tongogara out of the picture, extremists in Zanu PF had had their way, Msipa says in his riveting book.

“I felt great. But by this time we had learnt, from announcements by Enos Nkala, that Zanu was going to fight the elections on its own and not as part of Patriotic Front.

“We were not surprised though, as the union had been seen as a loose arrangement to fight the war as a joint force, and for the negotiations for a new constitution, even though Mugabe and Nkomo had signed the Lancaster House document as representatives of the Patriotic Front.

“There had never been any formal, written agreement on the union. It was more of an expression of intent,” he says.

In a direct attack on Zanu PF, Msipa says Zanu was much more inclined to being ruled by small group at the top and to not permit debate within its ranks.

“Zapu was far more open and tolerant. There were differences of policy, with Zanu PF’s inclination towards socialism, insisting for example, the leaders would not be allowed to own more than 15 hectares of land, although this was quickly reversed,” he said.

In the hard-hitting book, Msipa also exposes Zanu PF’s system of using violence to win elections since.

“There were so many cases of our youth being severely beaten in Mashonaland (during 1980 elections), but Nkomo would only tell me to take up the matter with my muzukuru — meaning Mugabe.

“I did, and after he had listened to me, he called Ernest Kadungure, whose response was ‘such incidents occur in an election.’ In other word he and Mugabe condoned violence,” he writes.

With Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars continuing to rip both the ruling party and the country apart, Msipa also urges Mugabe in the book to groom a successor to put Zimbabwe on a stronger footing.

In addition, he criticises Mugabe for failing to promote the necessary debate on his succession, and suggests that by failing to do so, the increasingly frail nonagenarian is responsible for the turmoil ravaging Zimbabwe.

A constant theme throughout the book is the country’s fragile democracy and the myriad political and economic challenges that its citizens continue to encounter, which prompt Msipa to ask the question, “is this the freedom we suffered and sacrificed for”?

“Sometime in 2003, several senior members of Zanu PF asked me to persuade President Robert Mugabe to name and groom the person who would eventually succeed him.

“These people were not wishing Mugabe to go away, they were only saying that one day he will go, as is the way of all flesh,” Msipa reveals in the book.

“I regret that I was unsuccessful in this bid as the president insisted that his successor would be democratically-elected by Zanu PF members through the appropriate structures. In theory, Mugabe is correct but in practice what he suggests may not work.

“I remain convinced that the current contentious approach to the succession is wasteful, destabilising and inappropriate for a country with such a fragile economy,” Msipa writes ruefully.

He also says bluntly that Zanu PF is to blame for the economic rot afflicting Zimbabwe.

“By and large, Zanu PF leaders and members seem oblivious to the critical bearing their conduct has on the nation, and particularly on the economy.

“Zanu PF conduct looms large in the minds of potential investors, and the constant upheavals and bickering within the party give the impression of instability,” Msipa writes.

Shooting from the hip further, Msipa dismisses the various charges that have been levelled against former Vice President Joice Mujuru as a mere “barrage of sensational publicity centred on unproven allegations of corruption, sabotage and assassination plots, and peppered with accusations of witchdoctors unleashing charms”.

And warning that the country could soon descend into an ungovernable abyss because of conflict within the top echelons of power spawned by the unresolved succession issue, Msipa says Mugabe has the means to end the deadly factionalism devouring Zanu PF.

“In all this, Robert Mugabe has the power to remove causes of factionalism. That has been my call and it will remain my call,” he writes emphatically.

A man of steadfast principles and strong convictions, Msipa also says in the book that when Zanu split from Zapu in the early 1960s, he was allegedly approached by Mugabe to desert Nkomo, but refused.

“When the split occurred, Mugabe had approached me and asked if I would join Zanu. I told him I would not because I did not trust Ndabaningi Sithole.

“He then said to me, ‘I hope this will not affect our relationship’.

“Why should it?’ I replied, and indeed it in no way affected our friendship, which continues up to now. He remains my ‘muzukuru’ and I remain his ‘sekuru’”.

Msipa also touches on the disputed 2008 elections in his book and says it was during the presidential run-off elections where the “army was active” that he had decided to end his illustrious political career, as he had been appalled by the army’s involvement in the elections.

“At one election meeting, in Chief Mazvihwa’s area in Zvishavane, I was surprised to find myself sharing a platform with army commanders.

“I kept asking myself, ‘is this the freedom we fought for?’ ... it was there that I made up my mind that I would never again participate in elections where people were openly threatened and intimidated into voting for any political party,” Msipa said.

Comments (31)

I totaly agree wth Mudhara on 1 isue,that CDR TONGO wanted a united PF to go into elections in 1980.He wanted the 2 militant groups Zanla n Zipra to come in as 1.This idea he even told his 2 deputies ,Rex Nhongo n Lookout Masuku.The death of Gen Tongo did not kill this idea as I saw it emerge in Rex n Lookout bt in 1980 it died,bt the 2 remained very close on revambing the army,with Lookout possessing more knowledge of admin and strategy than Rex.The biggest blow came when Lookout was locked up n died.So this idea of a united front died a double death,,Tongo n Masuku.Rex then changed from a zanla commander with noones influence who was in zanu to 1 who now was heavily controled by zanu politicians,which Tongo was not.Tongogara was a leader of Zanla who worked with Zanu bt not contoled by it.thats how i know this.Umdhala yes was every combatants choice for head of state of new zim.He carried more weight.

viola gwena - 2 December 2015

Thats why the killed Tongogara.Varume ava vanoda kutonga too.They will do everything possible even comitting murder so that they rain in power.Zanu Pf people's hands are filled with blood.No wonder why vasingadi ku retire even if vachembera.Makamuonepi munhu anoda kuramba achitonga at 91?Vezera rake vazhinji vaka retire kare.They are now enjoying their last days vakazorora.

tinashe - 2 December 2015

so why were you silent all along? please tell us everything especially the rigging mechanisms you used since 2000 when you were still in zanu. please note that we only need you to provide us with information not to say that the likes of you joice, jabulani, covo gumbo and didi will still bless our political landscape. you have been part of this boko haram government for too long to have shown rwavhi Mugabe that his methods are heinous!!!

josphat mugadzaweta - 2 December 2015

& hence why Tongogara had to go. Zanu has been Mugabe's project from the start. The slipt from Zapu in the 1960s was orchestrated by him and simpletons like Sithole, Nkala and that vitori fellow Zvobgo were just pawns. The coup d'état in the 70s sidelining Sithole and taking out potential contenders or voices of reason in Chitepo and Tongo was all part of the game plan. By 1980 you have a zanu leadership in the political and military wing which owes its position to him & therefore license to do as he pleases...the rest as they say is history.

Lt General - 2 December 2015

We still have that "Killer/Elimination" ideology.. its part of our strategy.

Mukanya - 2 December 2015

Give us statistics to support your assertion that the book was 'well received'.

Ndugu - 2 December 2015

Give us statistics to support your assertion that the book was 'well received'.

Ndugu - 2 December 2015

1: Tongogara was interviewed by BBC during the the talks of our " independence" while in the UK. His response to the question of leadership was that " what is important to me is not who leads Zimbabwe after elections , but that one man one vote has been exercised. It did not matter at all if Nkomo would be the priminister" 2: Mugabe Robert was invited to join Zapu by Jason Ziyaphapa Moyo. Jason authored a letter of invitation that an emissary took to Ghana. At that time there was a thrust to bring in educated people within the ranks of Zapu. 3: I challenge anyone to show where Mugabe was politics wise before his invitation by Ziyaphapa

Tongogara - 2 December 2015

Muchinguri has all the info as she was with Tongo when he was killed all of us know she knows a lot about this great man .s death and that is why she is liked by Mugabe and has been in govt since 1980 despite the fact that she is dull and useless ..She will be in govt for as Mugabe is power as part of her package for shutting up the information.

Diibulaanyika - 2 December 2015

@Diibulaanyika, I certainly agree with your point. Muchinguri Kashiri knows more than everyone about the events leading to Tongo's death. I hope she is not waiting to get old like Msipa so that she will start writing her own book about Zimbabwe.

Mentalist - 2 December 2015

@Yes Mentalist she is the last person to see Tongo alive she knows a lot of what exactly happened that day and before should she get fired from zanu like Mutasa that is when she will start to reveal every thing to try and get some sympathy from the nation but that will be too late and will be not taken serious instead now is the time to say all then become free without hiding piles of secrets . .

Diibulaanyika - 2 December 2015

ESPECIALLY NOW THAT SHE WAS MADE TO CRY BY GRACE REVEAL EVERYTHING PLEASE OPAH EVEN THE OLD MAN WAS SO SCARED THAT YOU MIGHT SPILL THE BEANS WHEN YOU CRIED IN THE POLITBURO MEETING.

JIBHA - 2 December 2015

Grace and her husband are playing with fire. If they think they can eliminate Muchinguri , then they do or have never understood the covert operations of the CIO. Muchinguri is very well connected and can easily make Mugabe a miserable man. This why she walked out of the politburo whilst Mugabe was talking. Yes Grace was right Muchinguri does not respect both Grace and Mugabe. Her only worry is Ngwena who can sell her out as he always betray his supporters .

Be warned!! - 3 December 2015

The Lancaster agreement stipulated that there would be a titular president as head of state, and an executive prime minister as head of government. Was Nkomo not offered the head of state function i.e. president. Did he not refuse? Was it not that Banana came in after Nkomo had refused to accept the head of state role? So instead of Nkomo being head of state with Mugabe as head of government at independence, we had Banana as head of state and Mugabe as head of government instead.

machakachaka - 3 December 2015

We all knew this from 1980. What we didint know is we will suffer so long under the leadership of mugabe

dotiyenja - 3 December 2015

We all knew this from 1980. What we didnt know is we will suffer so long under the leadership of mugabe

dotiyenja - 3 December 2015

We all knew this from 1980. What we didnt know is we will suffer so long under the leadership of mugabe

dotiyenja - 3 December 2015

We all knew this from 1980. What we didnt know is we will suffer so long under the leadership of mugabe

dotiyenja - 3 December 2015

We all knew this from 1980. What we didnt know is we will suffer so long under the leadership of mugabe

dotiyenja - 3 December 2015

survival of fittest the law of jungle

ngwena - 3 December 2015

Guys, can someone tell me where Jonathan Moyo is, Jonati che bazha? Is he still alive. I doubt, please.

Dhurun'aru - 3 December 2015

Jonso is in hiding ,recoiled ,scared of ngwena the croc.Jonso started all this from geting mujuru kicked out wth his information stories,then he moved on ngwena the croc.The croc waited for jonso to expose himself on BBC,then ngwena launched an attack.Tho jonso managed to duk he got bruised n now knows ngwena is on the prawl,looking for him to make another stupid move,n finish him off.Ngwena n Muchinguri r very close chinas of the struggle.Ngwena was Tongo s very close youngster n intelligence man while Muchinguri was Tongo s secretery.do the maths n see if the bond can be brocken or not.Ngwena lived in Tongo s house in Zambia ,even marrying his sister.

viola gwena - 3 December 2015

Tongogara was ZANUPF and ZANLA! People should not try to raise their own waning political profiles by using his name in lies.

Political Observer - 3 December 2015

Tongo never respected or trusted Mugabe bcoz he knew the guy was just a political gate crusher hence when Mugabe got in Moza at a camp Tongo asked 'ndiyani awundza munhu uyu ' In English who who brought this person here .siNdebele ngubani olethe lomuntu in chiTonga ngwaani weetha muntu ooyu . Now that tell us that Tongo knew Mugabe did not know reasons why a a white man being fought .Was he wrong ? No that is why he is now a president of rural area people and is hated so much by big city people bcoz he has created shiit in these places making everyone machiyinyoka and very hungry and angry .

Diibulaanyika - 3 December 2015

It saddens me that people who went to the front,fought the enemy then after dined at the expense of the very same people they mean't to liberate now claim they suddenly see wrong in each other's contribution to the fall of the jewel.The pot calling the kettle black I say,read the reviews and DO NOT BUY their books.all of them !DO NOT allow them to wring the hard earned cash through their texts with sudden revelations of each other's cause of the fall .let them be content with what they took while they still were held in favor.if anyone of them is sincere in their claims of repentance,they should do the first obvious thing of GIVING BACK THAT WEALTH they aquired while with the devil.ICHO

FLATFOOT AFRIKA. - 8 December 2015

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