Published: 15 December 2016 | by Dr Mpiyesizwe Churchill Guduza
The former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, observed that, ‘In every era, in every clime and for every oppressed people, God in His infinite wisdom provides an opportunity for them to break the yoke of suppression and oppression’. Consistent with this observation from perhaps one of the greatest intellectuals of Africa in recent memory, we are compelled to pose a few questions by way of an intellectual outline regarding the role of the Mafela Trust in Mthwakazi.
It is noteworthy that as we open up the Closed Doors of the Mafela Trust for public discussion and scrutiny, especially to the people of Mthwakazi, we are doing so solely in pursuit of the truth. It will be remembered that a few days ago there was a Josiah Ndlovu who not only shouted that this writer be condemned for what he called an ‘attack on Zapu, Zipra and Joshua Nkomo’, but he also claimed to be a member of the Mafela Trust. It is therefore hoped that by opening the Closed Doors of the Mafela Trust, Josiah Ndlovu who claims to be a Zipra war veteran will empower the people of Mthwakazi a great deal about the workings of his organization. Fundamentally, however, it is important for Josiah Ndlovu and his comrades to know that the Draft Freedom Charter of the people of Mthwakazi (as highlighted below) empowers us to open up all closed doors anywhere in Mthwakazi for the benefit of all the citizens of our country.
2. Statement of the problem
We need not apologise for this statement of the problem as it forms the crux of the matter under discussion. It relates to our understanding within the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) of what the Mafela Trust is all about. Some of us, including the writer hereof, were not only trained but were battle- hardened Zipra fighters, who unlike Josiah Ndlovu were not only at one time accused of seeking to overthrow the Zipra high command, but were hunted down like game animals in Zambia resulting in scores being killed not by the enemy but on the orders of certain sections of the high command.
Those who were lucky were incarcerated in Zambian prisons while the writer hereof was incarcerated in a Luanda Prison in Angola that was more than 400 years old at the time. Unlike Josia Ndlovu, especially after the untimely death of the former commander of Zipra forces, Alfred Nikita Mangena, who was totally against the Zimbabwe project (and that is the key reason he was killed) as conceptualized even then, we also began challenging the high command for answers regarding the bombardments of several unarmed Zapu camps throughout Zambia, from the Freedom Camp (FC) right up to Mukushi Camp (MC) and Solwezi Camp (SC) towards the fall of 1978.
Furthermore, unlike Josiah Ndlovu, some of us (including the writer hereof) wanted answers as to how it was possible for the Rhodesian Air Force to drop tons of napalm bombs from the skies of Zambia on the defenseless refugees of Mthwakazi in various camps in Zambia without a single defensive shot ever being fired. The first bombardment occurred towards the fall of October in 1978 at Freedom Camp (FC), about 15 kilometers to the east of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. Hundreds of the dead were buried through the use of a grader which simply dug a huge, deep and very long trench pit (burial site).
The dead could not be touched by human hands; one had to use either a log, stick or any other object to push the dead into the dug pit for fear of being burnt by napalm. The rest were simply pushed into the deep trench by the grader. Some of us experienced this trauma first hand during our early adult lives. From FC, the bombers proceeded to bomb camps to the north and north east of Lusaka in Kabwe, Mukushi and Solwezi, before returning to the south and south east of Lusaka and continue bombing raids against civilian refugee targets, all supporters and recruits of Zapu’s Zipra forces. Josia Ndlovu would not know about these brutal experiences as people like him were either pimps or amawasha of certain members of the high command’s clothing or simply omantshingelani.
It must be noted that, just like the starvation policy employed by the Zanu-pf regime especially during the Gukurahundi period, a number of Zapu camps and their inhabitants also experienced starvation (at times for many days) during the immediate period before they were bombed. The explanation for the lack of food at these camps was always the same, namely that ‘Zapu did not have food production firms and therefore that it depended on the handouts from the United Nations’, World Food Programme and other international bodies. Our own explanation at the time was that there must have been enemy moles or agents at the highest structures of Zapu and Zipra working side by side with the Rhodesian forces to ensure maximum devastation and casualties.
Of course as the bombardments took place some of the unlucky comrades who had been accused of being spies (simply for not towing the high command line) were killed in the internal prisons of those camps which comprised simply of dug out pits. Josiah Ndlovu would not know of all these experiences as he would have been protected as a blue eyed boy of the high command. If indeed he is aware of these Zipra pit prisons scattered in all the camps of Zambia, then he must have been just like the Treblinka guards, a guard of one of them. Clearly, therefore, a large chunk of Zipra’s history is yet to be written. Attention of this historiography must of necessity focus on the formidable power wielded by the high command of Zipra, the power which could decide a person’s life chances (whether he died or simply disappeared) at any moment.
Unfortunately, those who must write this history are rapidly aging and also uneducated. It is important that some initiative is started to motivate and provide real assistance to these remaining survivors of Zipra’s war effort to document their experiences to the best of their abilities. I myself am busy with my own autobiography. I am also collaborating with a few of those survivors who are in their 60s and mid-60s in putting together what went behind the closed doors of Zipra in Zambia, and the consequences thereof at the frontline at home in the real military operations.
It has to be noted that the blue eyed boys of the high command such as Josia Ndlovu (if at all this character exists) never experienced battle. If he did, he would know my guerre de nom (my war pseudo name) as I was one of only the best commandos within Zipra, who knew then and today that the Zimbabwe project was simply a wrong idea for our people, so was this thing called socialism and communism which by and large was responsible (just as the Zimbabwe idea) for the hundreds of thousands of deaths of the people of Mthwakazi. This is one of the fundamental reasons why we in the MLF must oppose any talk of a war with our oppressors as we would not want ever again to empower certain unruly individuals with the power of life and death.
The fact that Zapu was not accorded the opportunity to govern in what is called Zimbabwe today is perhaps both fortunate and unfortunate. It is fortunate because the power that these individuals within Zapu and Zipra wielded would simply have continued unabated with scores of individuals including myself having disappeared. It is unfortunate because maybe it might have triggered some kind of investigations into the disappearance of scores of our comrades in Zambia. We are therefore not surprised that the Mafela Trust did not neither will it ever concern itself with the question of those comrades who disappeared at the hands of certain individuals within Zipra’s high command.
There is one name in particular that keeps coming up to me, an inspirational figure and a brilliant commando instructor, Godfrey and those who were perceived to be radicals (so-called renegades as I was also labelled at the time) like him in espousing the Mthwakazi question. To this day all I can do is to imagine what exactly happened to him and others. There is no closure. It is perhaps once we have attained Mthwakazi that we must ensure that these cases are thoroughly investigated. These guys disappeared from the face of the earth in one of the camps in Zambia. I myself managed to escape from Zambia into neighbouring Angola where I paid for my convictions with my life at the Casa Recoperesau (House of Recuperation as the Luanda Prison was and is known today), for standing up against the high command of Zipra in the face of hundreds of thousands of the dead who at the very least would be alive today if only this high command knew what it was doing.
Fleeing Lusaka, Zambia on foot and having to hitch-hike to Angola (where I was trained) through the Jimbe border post just next to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) for several endless kilometers was not a child’s play; it had to do with survival of the highest order. I wonder if Josiah Ndlovu has such a painful experience. For his information, Josiah Ndlovu must find out from Ben Mathe (uDubu as he was known then) the commander of the first group to be trained at the outskirts of Luso (now Luena) in Angola, about the person who deputized him at the same time being the artillery commander of Company 10, then he should know me.
Josiah Ndlovu must also understand that (some of us) the first group to be trained in Angola also had to fight off a formidable enemy during this time in the name of Unita rebels. Survival at this training camp was not a child’s play either as many of our comrades succumbed to malaria. Food rations were also so little from the Cubans (only as big as fitting in one’s palm) and relish at times was simple condensed milk. Their bones are still scattered there, hence it is important that we interrogate the question of our role for the struggle and liberation of Zimbabwe and not of Mthwakazi objectively and not simply saying we must not talk about so and so. It is our lives and experiences that we are talking about - hence never again shall we stand by and witness our people being led astray by anybody who wants to hide under the charismatic personality of Joshua Nkomo. History must be told as it is, there can be no hiding. The bones of our fellow comrades which are scattered all over central Africa (in Zambia, Tanzania, Angola, in Mthwakazi and elsewhere) having died in vain, compel us to continue struggling for the truth (rather than a false idea) in the form of the Restoration Agenda for Mthwakazi.
It is no wonder therefore that like yesterday the surviving members of this high command are still hell-bent on leading our people of Mthwakazi to a Zimbabwe project that sadly will never be achieved for the benefit of the people of Mthwakazi. This is all the more important why all of us have to interrogate our destiny without fear, favour or prejudice. We owe our resolve for the Restoration of Mthwakazi to all the departed and living, in charting a new way with the boldest determinism never experienced before. As I now turn to look closely behind the closed doors of Mafela Trust, the assumptive findings should not only shock you, but propel you to never ever again let yourself and your humanity be led astray. You can at least join the MLF and provide more worthwhile and formidable capacity in this restoration journey.
3. The Mafela Trust
From the outset it is important to emphasise that I have not been a member of this Trust. As a matter of fact I do not even know what its mission statement or vision is all about. To me it is simply that mechanism which is at best useless and at worst designed to lead the people of Mthwakazi astray. Everything that this trust is supposed to have been doing and continue doing to this date has never been done. So what is the Mafela Trust all about? What is its mission, purpose, goals or objectives?
To these and many other questions, the answers cannot be in the affirmative as virtually nothing is known about this trust. To begin with it is important to note that Zapu and Zipra do not have a single documented record of the cadres who joined both ranks either as recruits for military training or as political members. The only copy that Zapu and Zipra had was confiscated by the Zanu-pf regime in 1982 at eMguza Farm a few kilometers north of Bulawayo, when Zapu was accused of sponsoring so-called ‘dissidents’. However, because during the raid by these Zanu-pf operatives, a fire managed to gut down the structure within which this single copy was housed, the explanation has therefore always been that this record got burnt down by the fire at eMguza Farm.
But why a single copy? How could Zapu and Zipra have only one copy of the records of its cadres and everybody who joined these two organisations, not only outside what was then Rhodeisia, but also inside? How could the number of hundreds of thousands of people be recorded only in one copy? How could this monumental inefficiency and ineffectiveness take place when Zapu had so-called representatives throughout the world, in the United Nations, Scandinavian Countries just to name a few across the seas and in Zambia, Tanzania, Angola and elsewhere within the continent of Africa? What complacency characterized Zapu and Zipra?
What does all this say about the management of the organisations called Zapu and Zipra? Surely if the English colonialists who annexed our country Mthwakazi in 1893 could send telegrams and other information from Mthwakazi to Britain one hundred years earlier (as I discovered when I interrogated the Matebeleland Order In Council of 18 July 1894 recently in London), how could Zapu and Zipra not record not only all the names of those who joined both ranks but also of all the battles fought as well challenges experienced? These and various other questions are indeed critical questions that need to be posed when crafting the largely incomplete history of both organisations.
It is in view of all the above that one would at least have expected Mafela Trust to begin by researching and compiling a data base of all those who joined Zapu and Zipra during the war years. But this trust and whoever is running it did not. Such a research would only be methodically viable and reliable if all other approaches were not followed, including the random sampling, but a village to village, house to house research methodology. The question to be asked would simply be who went to the war effort led by Zapu and Zipra between certain years? Of those who left who or how many came back after the war? Just some basic questions would give an appropriate picture not only of the numbers involved, but would attach real names of individuals to those numbers.
The second step that the Mafela Trust would have to do if it was a genuine mechanism with the interests of bereaved families who lost their children and loved ones at large, would be to erect a memorial stone in every district (for example one in Plumtree, another in Tsholotsho, and then Gwanda, Beitbridge and so on throughout the hinterlands and towns of Mthwakazi) so that parents and relatives of all those who remain unaccounted for (in other words who did not return from the war) could find closure. Added to the erection of these memorial remembrance stones, the Mafela Trust would need to conduct workshops and various meetings specifically in order to explain to the parents why their children and loved ones perished or died during the war. Thus far, not even Zapu or Zipra went about explaining to the bereaved families what happened to their children. So what is the Mafela Trust all about, if it has not addressed these questions?
One of the crucial roles that the Mafela Trust could have been doing since inception would be to bring the remains of our brothers and sisters whose mass graves are well known. There is simply no reason whatsoever why the remains of those buried in mass graves like in the case of those who were butchered by the Rhodesian Air Force at FC and various camps have not been brought to Mthwakazi for reburial. Transportation of these remains could be in the form of trucks and hundreds of our people including business sections would actually contribute towards this cause.
Over and above that the Mafela Trust could be in a position of knowing about the remains of those of our colleagues who died in the frontline both within Zambia and in Mthwakazi. There are hundreds of our fellow comrades who died during the many bombardments on the Zambian side just before crossing the Zambezi River in a number of ambushes, all because of the selfish activities of the Frontline Regional Commanders such as Tangwena at the Death and Casualty frontline, about 30 kilometers south of Zambia’s city, Choma. Of course Josia Ndlovu would not know about this experience and pain. Some of the dead were then booby trapped by the Rhodesian forces to cause maximum impact in the event that the survivors tried to bury their remains. But then Mafela Trust is simply as trust embedded in a useless mission and vision.
There are also many of our comrades who lie buried throughout Mthwakazi who fell not only through battles against the Rhodesian forces but others survived only to die of their injuries a few days later, and still others fell ill and died. The fallen comrades who fought gallantly for the non-existent idea of Zimbabwe with unmeasurable sacrifice were buried by their comrades throughout Mthwakazi and still some of the villagers actually know where some of these gallant fighters lie buried. What this implies therefore, is clearly that the Mafela Trust has not been involved neither will it be in the near future, with the interests of the living and the dead of Mthwakazi.
It remains to be seen exactly what this trust has done, but we can emphatically (judging from the unanswered myriad of questions above) state that the opening of the Closed Doors of Mafela Trust have revealed something more akin to nothing. This trust has therefore failed our people both the living and the dead, it is not even worth the name ‘Mafela’. As Constantine Cyril, the Philosopher observed during the 9th Century: ‘Does not the sun shine equally for the whole world? Do we not all equally breathe the air? Do you not feel shame at authorising only three languages and condemning other people to blindness and deafness? Tell me, do you think that God is helpless and cannot bestow equality, or that he is envious and will not give it?’
It is therefore imperative that we interrogate these mechanisms that are fueled more by envy than reality consistent with the air that we breathe equally instead of being condemned by such organisations as the Mafela Trust to blindness and deafness. Mthwakazi must rise. In concluding this brief highlight on Mafela Trust, it is important also to bring to your attention the Freedom Charter that is envisaged for the people of Mthwakazi. You are therefore reminded that as you interrogate the above discourse and the Freedom Charter below, we await your comments and contributions. There will be an article that will sum up all your comments and contributions regarding the different subjects that we have addressed in the near future.
4. The Freedom Charter of Mthwakazi
Our free Homeland of Mthwakazi shall be the hospitable home of an inter-cultural society based on the self-determination of all the nationals of the community, expressing the popular will of all the sections of the community and endowed with the safeguard for the minority groups.
Our free Mthwakazi shall be committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: And, THAT,
There shall be political democracy which guarantees the government of the people, by the people and for the people themselves;
There shall be the rule of law which shall bind all the offices and institutions of the land and ensure that all the people are equal before the law;
The respect for the human dignity and the tolerance for diverse points of views which do not infringe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be enforced in our free homeland;
There shall be a policy of public relations on the basis of the truth, justice and morality regarding our attitude towards each other and the rest of mankind;
The national wealth of Mthwakazi shall be managed with transparency to ensure a fair distribution, exchange, consumption and exploitation of the country’s resources;
The cultural identities of all the ethnic nationalities of Mthwakazi shall be promoted and protected by the state and all the languages which are used as mother tongues by the compact local communities shall be graded as official languages which shall be taught in all the relevant educational institutions up to the highest level of learning, their use in daily life by both the community shall be encouraged and their use by the mass media of the land shall be promoted.
All the central government, federal, local authorities and the business institutions shall operate ethically, according to approved standards in order to satisfy all the consumer expectations;
The occupation opportunities shall be allocated according to merit and the government shall be obliged to widen career development and create sufficient opportunities for the whole community;
All the elected representatives of Mthwakazi shall be delegated with the mandate of their constituencies to which they shall be accountable, and shall be constitutionally liable to be recalled with a vote of no confidence if need arises; AND THAT,
A free Homeland of Mthwakazi shall respect the international law and its relations with other nations shall be based on the principles of non-alignment and non-interference on other state’s affairs.
The Mthwakazi freedom charter is thus a befitting metaphor for all the struggles of the various stateless nations, nationalities and peoples of the world who make daily sacrifices in pursuit of the right to self-determination. To this end, the Mthwakazi people shall subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention against Torture, the principles of the Rome Statute, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, all of which will guide our ethical conduct as a people. Finally, in echoing Ledum Mitee, it is safe to say that God has indeed through the Restoration Agenda for Mthwakazi provided the people of Mthwakazi ‘an opportunity for them to break the yoke of suppression and oppression’.
- Source: Dr Mpiyezwe Churchill Guduza, published by umthwakazireview.com