Zimbabwe today remembers one of its illustrious sons in the fight for majority rule, the late Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo who succumbed to cancer on the 1st of July 1999 aged 82.
In his early political life, he became a trade union leader, who progressed on to become president of the banned National Democratic Party before founding the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) in 1961.
Due to his fearlessness and strong conviction to pursue the struggle for independence he was jailed for ten years by Rhodesia’s white minority government. Upon his release in 1974 he took up from where he had left prior to his imprisonment and led both the party and its military wing, ZIPRA into the attainment of independence.
Post-Independence, during one of the country’s darkest hours where tens of thousands were unjustifiably killed by the state mainly in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, Nkomo was instrumental in unifying a nation on the verge of dissolution on ethnical and political grounds despite being a victim of persecution himself by fellow comrades he had fought side by side in the struggle for freedom.
The late former President Robert Mugabe conceded- “it was a moment of madness.”
With the Unity Accord of December 22, 1987, notwithstanding his illustrious fight for independence and national healing, Nkomo’s legacy still lives on.
Today, there is a strong sense that Zimbabwe lacks political leaders with the same reverence of national values as those exuded in the late Father Zimbabwe as Nkomo was known.
Rising political intolerance, corruption and a clear disregard of human life has torn into shreds Zimbabwe’s once integral moral fabric.
“Dr Nkomo’s unrelenting fight for human dignity and social justice won him international acclaim and an indelible place in African history,” reads the statement from the office of the President, Emmerson Mnangagwa today.
Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa wrote on social media,”Today we remember Joshua Nkomo, Father Zimbabwe, Umdala Wethu.He preached against violence and hate politics. A true nationalist who humbled himself and strove for national peace instead of personal aggrandisement. His place in history is assured.”