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Why Did Joshua Nkomo Reject Presidential Post in 1980?

  • Ntungamili Nkomo
  • Chris Gande

Owen Maseko's painting of the 1987 Unity Accord between Robert Mugabe (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo (ZAPU) which brought the ZANU-PF party into existence. The painting shows a bloodied Nkomo bending over the accord, while Mugabe is the other individual seated. (File Photo)

Owen Maseko's painting of the 1987 Unity Accord between Robert Mugabe (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo (ZAPU) which brought the ZANU-PF party into existence. The painting shows a bloodied Nkomo bending over the accord, while Mugabe is the other individual seated. (File Photo)

It’s a political story that bears a striking Shakespearean resemblance. But unlike the Roman general Julius Caesar who turned down the crown three times, the story is about the late nationalist Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo who, President Robert Mugabe revealed Sunday he refused three times to accept an offer to assume the presidency following Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

This is a piece of history that many ordinary people did not know. Officiating at the ceremony to honor Mr. Nkomo in Bulawayo, President Mugabe said the decision by the late vice president and PF Zapu leader showed he was a selfless politician.

Zapu officials told VOA Studio 7 besides the fact that the post offered to Nkomo by Mr. Mugabe was ceremonial, there were other bigger reasons why he refused to take up the presidency, eventually assumed by the late Cannan Banana.

We spoke to Political Analyst Nkululeko Sibanda based at Huddersfield University in London.

Meanwhile, two cultural activists spent the night in police cells after they were arrested for allegedly wearing t-shirts inscribed Mthwakazi while attending the official opening of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo at the weekend.

Prudence Moyo and a man only identified as Gumede deny that they are part of any political group and say the words Arise Mthwakazi on their t-shirts were only referring to the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands and not a group that is calling for the cessation of Matabeleland from the rest of Zimbabwe.

They were released Tuesday after paying $10 admission of guilt fines for allegedly being a public nuissance.
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