Home » General » Lungu’s Call On Mugabe – Mark of Historical Ties

President Mugabe’s moving speech at the state funeral of President Michael Sata in Lusaka last November is still fresh in most people’s minds so it was only proper for Mr Lungu – who was the acting President at the time – and was regarded as Mr Sata’s anointed ‘heir apparent’ – to call on him to say ‘thank you’ for the support he rendered to Zambia at such a difficult hour.

Given our shared history, as members of the defunct Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953-1963), events in pre and post independent Zimbabwe have always been of special interest in Zambia, which had offered sanctuary to thousands of Zimbabwean exiles who fled from the oppressive Smith regime as Mugabe’s ZANLA and Joshua Nkomo’s ZIPRA forces intensified the liberation struggle from bases in Mozambique and Zambia in particular.

Some of the Zimbabwean refugees in Zambia were forced to adopt Zambian names for fear of detection by Rhodesian secret service agents and Selous Scouts who were constantly out on their search-and-destroy missions in independent African countries believed to be harbouring nationalist fighters they regarded as ‘terrorists’.

In Lusaka Mr Chitepo was skilled by a bomb that had been planted in his car at home.

One of the Zimbabweans who used a fake Zambian name to avoid detection was a journalist some of us came to know as Albert Mvula, from Chipata, when his real name was Farai Munyuki, from Harare.

I did not know this until I met him at a seminar he was conducting in Gaborone, Botswana, under the Maputo-based Nordic-SADC Journalist Training Centre in 1998.

I greeted him in front of everyone as ‘Albert’ but he whispered, saying ‘please don’t call me by that name. Everyone here knows me as Farai Munyuki’. Well, I had, in the circumstance, to apologise to my former compatriot.

But others, like former Times of Zambia News Editor Stephen Mpofu (who went on to become editor of the Chronicle in Bulawayo) and Deputy Editor-In-Chief Bill Saidi, a highly gifted writer and a man who always called a spade a spade, maintained their true identities.

In 198O, I met Mr Saidi outside South Africa House, located on the edge of Trafalgar Square, after attending a Commonwealth Editors Conference at Marlborough House, London. He flew back to Lusaka later but never indicated to me that he planned to relocate ‘beck’ home (to Zim) at the time.

Upon my return to Ndola I met him outside Times Newspapers offices and since it was around 10 hours, the time we often held our morning editorial conferences that he co-chaired with Mr Naphy Nyalugwe, the Editor-In-Chief in Lusaka, I asked him if he was taking a day off.

He startled me when he said, “I have resigned am going back home. I can no longer work with some of these dubious characters in this place (the company).”

I came to learn later that he and some company’s general manager could not agree on a variety of editorialcompany policy issues.

Frankly speaking, his sudden departure had a telling effect on the morale of most junior staff in the Editorial Department.

He was a terrific role model who helped maintain high professional standards.

In fact his departure triggered an exodus of Zimbabweans who had been working for the company from as far back as the early 1960s.

Those who had been hiding behind fake names openly started to opens proclaim that they were not Zambians after all and were going home because Mugabe, who became Prime Minister, replacing Ian Smith, had restored peace in the country of their birth.

It is true Zimbabwe’s independence altered the whole Southern African political landscape.

And who could blame the exiles for doing what they did? Armed to the teeth, the Smith regime was determined to cling on to power despite condemnation by the international community.

Following the 1979 successful Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Leaders Conference at which President Kaunda, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and former Nigerian head of state Olusegun Obasanjo persuaded former British Prime Minister ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher to see the writing on the wall, the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia’s freedom no longer looked in doubt.

After several months of bargaining Mugabe was on March 4, 1980 asked to form a cabinet by Lord Soames, the British governor, who had been appointed to oversee a smooth transition from white to black majority rule in the country.

Mindful of the need to cement national unity, Mr Mugabe named an inclusive Cabinet that included Nkomo’s ZAPU top brass.

The full list was as follows: Mr Robert Mugabe (Prime Minister and Defence), Simon Muzenda (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs), Mr Joshua Nkomo (Home Affairs), Edgar Tekere (Manpower, Planning and Development), Enos Nkala (Finance), Simbi Mubako (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Richard Hove (Public Service), Kumbirai Kangai (Labour and Social Welfare), Ernest Kadungure (Transport and Power).

OthersDr Eddison Zvobgo (Local Government and Housing), Sydney Sekeramayi (Lands, Resentlement and Rural Development), David Smith (Commerce and Industry), Dennis Norman (Agriculture), Joseph Msika (Natural Resources and Water Development), Dr Nathan Shamuyarira (Information and Tourism), Dr Dzingai Mutumbuka (Education and Culture), Dr Herbert Ushewokunze (Health), Clement Muchachi (Public Works), George Silundika (Posts and Telecommunications), Maurice Nyagumbo (Mines), Mrs Teurai Ropa Nhongo (Youth, Sport and Recreation), Emmerson Munangagwa (Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister).

President Mugabe, who worked closely with Dr Kaunda and other nationalist leaders like Samora Machel of Mozambique, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Edwardo do Santos of Angola, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Sir Seretse Khama and Quett Masire of Botswana, was born in 1925.

He had in the early 1960s been a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), formed in 1959 by Michael Mawema and then of Nkomo’s ZAPU in 1961 following the banning of the NDP.

He was twice detained before fleeing to Tanzania in April 1963 and in July the same year joined with a group of former ZAPU members to form Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) under the leadership of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole of which he became secretary-general.

Mugabe suffered a lot for his country.

He was imprisoned in Rhodesia from 1964 to 1974 during which period he obtained several university degrees.

In 1975-76 he emerged following a period of dissention within ZANU (akin to the factional fighting that rocked the Patriotic Front ahead of the January 20, 2015 presidential by-elections).

In October 1976 his ZANU wing formed the Patriotic Front (PF) alliance with Nkomo’s ZAPU.

Although both groups sent their own separate delegations to the Geneva conference the PF alliance remained in place, staunchly opposed to the so-called internal settlement, which Smith had worked out with Bishop Abel Muzorewa and others perceived as moderates by white settlers, and pursuing the guerilla war until the Lancaster House (UK) agreement.

Mr Nkomo, who was one of the ‘Big Three’ (others being KK and Dr Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda of Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, was born in 1917.

He was a prominent organiser of Rhodesia African Railways Workers Union and became in 1957 the president of the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress. After this latter organisation was banned two years later Nkomo went to Britain.

In October 1960 he was elected NDP president but the party itself was banned in December 1961, the year of ‘Cha-Cha-cha’ in Zambia’s Northern Province where UNIP militants burnt bridges in protest against colonial rule.

After organising a nationwide ‘plebiscite’ against terms of the constitution for Southern Rhodesia which had been drawn up at a conference at Lancaster House, but which was subsequently repudiated by every Zimbabwean nationalist leader, including Nkomo.

Nkomo then formed ZAPU but the party was banned by the settler regime in Salisbury, which also served as the Federal capital.

These are the men who sacrificed their lives to bring peace to southern Africa between and thus helped paved the way for a democratic South Africa under the leadership African National Congress (ANC) icon Nelson Mandela. Indeed it has been a long walk to freedom.

Source : The Times of Zambia