THE late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s son Sibangilizwe Nkomo yesterday reacted angrily to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s claims that his father lost the 1980 elections to President Robert Mugabe because he represented white minority interests.
Mnangagwa recently told the New African magazine that the former late Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith at one time confided in him and Mugabe that Nkomo and Zanu founder, Ndabaningi Sithole lost the elections because they were not principled and did not represent black interests.
The VP claimed Smith made the disparaging remarks about Nkomo at a meeting in Mt Pleasant,Harare, held at the behest of Mugabe soon after assuming power.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s chief of security then. Sibangilizwe hit back at Mnangagwa’s allegations, saying his father,
one of the pioneers of the liberation movements that eventually won independence for the country, “could not have had the name Father Zimbabwe” if he was a sell-out.
He said he initially had decided to keep quiet in order not to “dignify those awful comments with a response,” but had later decided to put the record straight and defend the dignity of his father.
“VP Mnangagwa’s statements are retrogressive and are not constructive,” Sibangilizwe said.
“He wants to take away the dignity and respect of Father Zimbabwe.
“The name Father Zimbabwe cannot be given to sell-outs, it shows his role as a nation builder.It is shocking for someone to call him a sell-out when the nation knows he was a nation-builder.”
He said his father’s love for peace averted a post-colonial political crisis in Zimbabwe that could have engulfed the whole region.
Sibangilizwe said for anyone to call Nkomo a sell-out was very cruel.
He said: “Instead of saying Nkomo was a sell-out, look at the role he played in restraining his soldiers from fighting in the 1980s.
“If Nkomo did not want peace, a major disaster would have happened, as South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia would have been dragged into Zimbabwe’s fighting and the whole region would have been on fire.”
Higher Education minister and Zanu PF secretary for science and technology, Jonathan Moyo also fired a broadside at Mnangagwa.
“The innuendo that the late VP Nkomo was a sell-out like [Chief] Chirau is offensive and unacceptable,”Moyo tweeted on Friday.
Mnangagwa was not reachable for comment at the time of going to print on Saturday, but a source close to him said: “Something is being done to clarify the issue.The VP never intended to disrespect anyone, but was simply saying
what Smith said.”
A senior Zanu PF official who is a former Zapu member who refused to be named, said although Mnangagwa was simply saying what Smith said, it was the timing of the statement that was suspicious.
“Why saying it now, 35 years after independence? This will rekindle old memories and plunge the country into chaos. That was undiplomatic and tribally insensitive, coming from the VP,” said the Zanu PF member.
Mnangagwa has been accused of playing a leading role in the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands, which forced Nkomo into exile in the United Kingdom after attempts were made on the revered nationalist’s life by government forces. standard