VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been roundly condemned for claiming that the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo served “white interests”, with former Zanu PF politburo member Cephas Msipa describing the remarks as “outrageous” and divisive.
A clearly apoplectic Msipa said he did not know what Mnangagwa meant and was itching to hear him clarify his statement. “I do not know what he is talking about,” Msipa said.
“I was shocked by Mnangagwa’s statement. I respect Mnangagwa and I hope he will correct it because it is not true that Nkomo did not stand for the interests of black people.”
In an interview with the New African magazine, Mnangagwa said the late Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith had confided in him that President Robert Mugabe had defeated the likes of Nkomo, Zanu founder the late Ndabaningi Sithole and others because they did not represent the interests of blacks.
But it is the mention of Nkomo, a founding member of the liberation struggle, that has ruffled feathers. “People like Mnangagwa joined Zapu that was led by Nkomo and he [Mnangagwa] was sent for training in China by Nkomo,” Msipa said.
“It will be interesting for him to tell us what he himself thinks about Nkomo because in the interview with New African magazine, he was quoted saying that was what Smith had told him about Nkomo. I do not think we can take that seriously.”
Msipa said he was looking for an opportunity to meet Mnangagwa and ask him why he had uttered such a statement about Nkomo.
“His [Mnangagwa’s] statements are hurting some of us who were under the leadership of Nkomo,” the former Midlands governor added.
“I was shocked by such outrageous statements. All the people in this country call Nkomo Father Zimbabwe because of what he did to bring majority rule to this country. Of all the people, Nkomo suffered and sacrificed for this country from 1957 to 1980. If it were someone else, who said he [Nkomo] faltered, other than Mnangagwa, I could understand.
“I speak for many former Zapu people and I feel hurt by the statements. Nkomo, together with Mugabe, stood for black people.
“They led their parties, Zanu PF and Zapu, and also led freedom fighters, Zanla and Zipra, and negotiated together in Geneva, at the Lancaster House Conference and others, until we reached majority rule. That speaks volumes of Mugabe and Nkomo.”
Msipa said Zimbabweans should not engage in divisive politics, but must remain united and respect Nkomo because he was unable to defend himself as a person as he passed on.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa yesterday also said Mnangagwa’s utterances were surprising, as Mugabe was the first person to talk about reconciliation and engaging whites after the 1980 elections.
“That is surprising because Mugabe was the first person after the elections who immediately talked about reconciliation with the whites, guaranteeing their safety and telling them that their farms would not be taken away,” Dabengwa said.
“On the other hand, we had Nkomo who went about telling the whites that the Lancaster House Constitution did not go down well with the black majority, for example on land, where it was agreed nothing would be done regarding the issue for a period of 10 years. Nkomo told them this was unsustainable and would only be a time bomb waiting to explode as long as blacks did not have the land." newsday