Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » On This Day, 39 Years Ago [analysis]

The following is the verbatim account of the crossing that President Mugabe gave during an interview with Power FM ahead of his 82nd birthday in 2006.

“It was on Saturday morning and we decided to leave in the afternoon of that day. Old Tangwena, late now, Chief (Rekayi) Tangwena at whose home we had slept was instructed by his wife to lead us. Mai Tangwena vaisvikirwa, vakati zvanzi izvo iwe Tangwena pachako tungamirira vana ava. So he accompanied us. There we were, we had two young men carrying our bags and I think there were five of us and we decided to cross the border.

“There was this big boundary road they called Bhinya. It was also called after the name of the person who was chief native commissioner . . . I will think of it. We had to cross the broad road, not tarred, but just a dirt road, gravel, not tarred because it was meant to facilitate the vigilance that the Rhodesians kept on the people.

“So we crossed, after looking at both sides of the road, we moved on and at night we had to cross rivers. There was a small river that we crossed and upon putting our shoes back, I could not distinguish the right from the left. Ndakaita saMbuya vangu vaimbouya kuchurch vakapfeka matennis vachiti yekurudyi yoenda uku (laughs pointing at his left foot).

“Ndakatozoona zuva ratobuda kuti that was the disaster that had attended my feet.

“You know the Tangwenas had been fighting for Gaerezi Ranch. It was that resistance, vaivingwa from time to time vachipfurwa. Ndiro chaidzo dzaiboorwa ne mabullets kuti vabve, their children were all taken away to a school somewhere, but they resisted. We got to a village where two headmen vekwaTangwena decided to get away from this problem and settled on the Mozambican side, and two headmen had remained. So they were four.

“We were drenched, very wet and we needed fire, so early in the morning fire was lit for us outside. I noticed that my shoes had done harm to my toes and we were not prepared to continue. So we remained there for quite some time. Kwakanga kusina masoja eFrelimo akawanda, so we had to relay our presence to them, and from that place word was sent ahead that we were there and we then got to a base that was close to Tete, this place was called Vam-Vam.

“We were at Vam-Vam for quite some time, that’s where we met vana Mao and others who had been recruited in Highfield. From there we were taken along a road in the direction of a town yaimbonzi Villa Gouveia, now Katandika. It was while we were at Vam-Vam that Mozambique celebrated its independence. We stayed at Katandika for a month or two. From Katandika we were taken to Chimoio, and there we met many more and now we were moving with other comrades that we had met along the way.

“That is where we met vanaChamu (Oppah Muchinguri) vachiri vadiki and many others. We had some students from university, vana (Zororo) Duri, vana (Christopher) Mutsvangwa vana Gula Ndebele, vana (John) Mayowe, who had left university, we met them there.

“There were about 5 000 to 6 000 of us kuChimoio. It was a little outside the town, and then the governor decided that some of our cadres who had been trained who were in Tete should be informed about our presence. There were about three ladies and mukuru wavo akavatora ndiMai (Joice) Mujuru, and there were about four or five male cadres.

So they came and saw us and came back, and we asked them to take control because they were trained cadres.

“So that was the journey, and all the while we were with Chief Tangwena, right up to the end taive naChief Tangwena, and when we came back, we came back with him also. He was quite a gallant cadre, very g,” President Mugabe said.

The President was to gallantly lead the war effort from Mozambique for the next five years. He participated in all the peace initiatives up to the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference where he tenaciously defended our right to holistic independence. And he only agreed to make some concessions when leaders of the Frontline States said their fragile economies could not continue sustaining the war effort where peace was an option.

On Sunday January 27 1980, Cde Robert Mugabe made a triumphant return to Zimbabwe, five years after he crossed into Mozambique.

He and other cadres were welcomed by a crowd estimated at 1,6 million by the Zanu-PF information and publicity department, 200 000 by the BBC, 150 000 by the Rhodesian police, and one million – with a safety margin of 25 percent — by people who said they arrived at the figure by enlarging aerial photographs and calculating crowd density.

Whatever the final figure, a crowd never before seen in the history of this country welcomed Cde Mugabe at Zimbabwe Grounds. It was by far the largest crowd to welcome any of the nationalist leaders who were to contest the general election set for March 1980. Even Abel Muzorewa’s so-called Huruyadzo rally, where people were bribed with beer and food over three days to attend, paled in comparison to the multitudes that welcomed Gushungo on that day.

Zimbabwe Grounds, which had earlier own also played host to the triumphant return of Cde Joshua Nkomo, was filled to capacity, and the man who had led the onslaught against the Smith regime, the man the people had come to see did not disappoint. His message was powerful Zimbabwe had arrived and never again was it to go back into settler hands, directly or by proxy.

Cde Mugabe, whose address was predominantly in the vernacular, laid the framework for the policy of reconciliation he was to enunciate after the elections as he appealed to white Rhodesians, in their native English, to stay and help build a Zimbabwe grounded on national unity.

He spoke passionately about how hunger for land was the “deepest of all grievances among our people” saying the new Government would not seize land from anyone who had use for it but would certainly acquire land that was lying unused while indigenous black people remained landless.

The central themes of his message on that day are the same motifs that have run through his speeches over the years. Themes we have heard time and again. Themes immortalised in the historic policy of reconciliation, themes immortalised in his constant refrain, “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”, themes enshrined in his insistence that Zimbabweans have a right to all their resources down to the ants and reptiles, themes critical of Western subversion.

The turnout at Zimbabwe Grounds, which even the British grudgingly acknowledged was the largest for any of the leaders who were to contest the election in March, gave the world a foretaste of what was to come at election time as Cde Mugabe and Zanu-PF swept to power on a landslide that left all other competitors deflated.

Despite the machinations of the British, people’s power prevailed, and the people chose the leaders they wanted. Bishop Muzorewa, despite the binges his handlers bankrolled at Zimbabwe Grounds, and the three helicopters they had availed for his campaign, managed only three seats, one for each helicopter!

Source : The Herald