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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa Praises Late VP Joshua Nkomo

Photo dated March 30 1983 of Zimbabwe opposition leader giving a press conference in London. Nkomo, father of the fight against colonial rule in the former British colony of Rhodesia, died early Thursday July 1 1999, after a long battle with prostate cancer.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the late nationalist and former Vice President, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, played a critical role in liberating Zimbabwe from white colonial rule.

In a message posted on Twitter, Mnangagwa said, “… 22 years ago today, Zimbabwe lost a great man. Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo is a hero of the liberation struggle, a man of the people, and a visionary who built a better Zimbabwe.”

Mnangagwa said Nkomo, who was affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe, wanted a peaceful nation.

“Every day we strive to continue your legacy of unity, love, and peace,” he said.

Nkomo spearheaded the liberation movement from the 1960s when he was a member of one of the largest labor unions in Rhodesia.

In a statement, the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust (JNLRPT), which stands for promoting and sustaining Nkomo’s legacy, said the late vice president was one of Africa’s greatest sons.

“It's been 22 years since the departure of this great leader and we are yet to accomplish his dream of achieving a nation. Divisional narratives are tearing this society further apart, we are now drifting away from each other and from one another. Political parties are mushrooming every day in the name of democracy even though we are yet to define our own democracy in line with our own values. Sadly, we all want to lead and no one is willing to follow hence our tragedy.

"There can only be one person as a national leader at a given time and all of us will always have a role to play all the time. We have become vulnerable to all forms of abuse due to our submission to divisional agendas. We ought to stand together in order to remain strong and focussed on the main goal of building a nation. A country without a nation cannot prosper. Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and his compatriots laid the foundation for us to build from but it is sad that forty one years after independence we still can't find each other and as a result, we seem to have adopted hate as our ideology.”

The Trust noted that as long as people continue to hate each other, prosperity will remain a pipeline dream.

“It is not a secret that our country has an ugly past characterized by killings, torture, rape and many other forms of human rights violations and injustices. All those are situations which could have been avoided if we had a nation, the time has come for us to leak our wounds and soldier on, the time has come now for us to pull each other up and start building bridges that would allow us to work together and defeat divisional agendas. Let us begin to talk about how we can work, push and pull towards in one direction as a people together.

“If we can't do it for ourselves we ought to do it for the next generation and many more to come. ‘Divided we fall and United we stand’, is a common phrase which has unfortunately been reduced to a mere slogan yet it remains key in our endeavours to create a prosperous society that embraces and celebrates diversity. Let us set our ideological differences aside and begin to acknowledge those little things that bring us together, we must humble ourselves and allow unity to peacefully prevail. We need unity today in order to rise above all our fears and challenges - we have a nation to build and it can only be possible through adopting a tolerant stance that is capable of collecting different views and mould them into one progressive way forward.”

The Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust, said it remains committed in working with all progressive bodies in advancing the social, economic and political struggle.

“We wish to encourage young people to stand focused towards the main goal of building their future and shun substance abuse and all other social evils that seek to reduce them into economic and political observers. Young people must rise and be counted in all the decision making processes because they are the current and the future of this country.”

Nkomo became the Home Affairs Minister when Zimbabwe attained its independence from British rule in 1980 but was sacked by the Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, who claimed that Father Zimbabwe was plotting a coup. Nkomo denied any wrong doing.

According to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Mugabe deployed a crack military unit in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces soon after the sacking of Nkomo, claiming that some dissidents were causing havoc in the two PF Zapu strongholds.

In a detailed report written by CCJP indicated that at least 20,000 people in the two regions were killed by the army unit, the Fifth Brigade, notoriously known as Gukurahundi, which had the backing of Mugabe’s government.

A few years later Mugabe called the massacres “a moment of madness”. Mnangagwa was in the state security apparatus when the atrocities were committed. He has distanced himself from the killings. But relatives of the people who died claim that Mnangagwa and his colleagues masterminded the atrocities.

Nkomo fled to Britain in 1983 after his family home in Bulawayo's Pelandaba suburb was attacked by armed men, who were identified by locals and the PF Zapu leadership as state security agents.