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'Joseph Msika wouldn't trade principles'

by Staff reporter
15 Aug 2017 at 06:45hrs | Views
THE late Vice President Joseph Msika was a rare breed of a nationalist - a fearless and strict disciplinarian and one person who would not trade principle for friendship. His character would not change whether dealing with colleagues in the party or tackling family issues.

Even his family acknowledges that the former Vice President's unwavering character saw him pursue everything that he believed was good of the people.

He was always available to offer help even if it meant the person who sought it would be disappointed. The Msika family learnt a lot from the veteran nationalist and leader who spent the greater part of his time fighting for the liberation of the fatherland.

Garikai Msika, nephew to the late veteran nationalist says for the years they knew him after independence — he left an indelible mark.

"We miss our old man. We miss the invaluable contribution he had into the family. Yes, we might feel the vacuum, but he left us a better family. I don't think we would be such a united family without his visionary and exemplary leadership.

"Mudhara Joe, as we called him, was a true unifier who took the whole family under his umbrella and gave us the direction that is exhibited by the Msika family today. We don't know divisions in the family and this is attributable to the late Vice President Msika's tutelage," Garikai said.

The nation and indeed the family celebrate a life well lived and legacy of servant leadership exhibited by Msika. Joseph Wilfred "Bruno" Msika died on August 4, 2009. He had indeed delivered the country to its rightful people with the independence and sovereignty the people of Zimbabwe enjoy today and the return of the land to black majority.

A man who believed in the dignity of his people, the late Vice President Msika could not stomach the ill-treatment of his people by foreigners.

As such at a tender age of 19, he entered the journey to seek freedom for his people. Raising a voice against the colonial administration earned Msika and other nationalists such as Robert Mugabe, the late Joshua Nkomo and Leopold Takawira a significant time as residents of the grim walls of colonial prisons and detention centres in the country.

The heavy hand of the coloniser could not break his back, but instead made him more resolute to seek the making of his own people, a people that had been dehumanised by the settler regime.

Vice President Msika was nicknamed "Bruno," firstly as a fearless trade unionist and then during his long stay in detention as a fearless and consistent freedom fighter. Garikai says the family felt good to hear that Msika was a strict disciplinarian even in the party.

"Most people would think as relatives of the Vice Presidents we would be spoilt, but that was not Uncle Joe's character. He was that kind of man who would tell you to join the queue, a man who would tell you to do it by the book and no short cuts," he said.

He knew exactly what made a leader and was not hesitant to teach his children that national politics was calling and this entailed making sacrifices.

For him a true nationalist was not a "chef", but a servant subservient to the people. For him a leader would be the lowest in rank among the people as he or she was supposed to carry the views of the people he or she led.

Msika would not hesitate to castigate those who sought political office for personal gain.

"With such wise words, who among the family can jump into seeking political office when he has not been asked by the people to lead them?

"Mudhara Joe yearned for a Zimbabwe that would give everyone an equal opportunity for its people regardless of race, creed or colour.

"It pains us as a family to see that some people want to stir division among the people. When you sat down with him you would feel the ambience of a father who wanted the best for his children and nation. He spoke dearly of country he loved, Zimbabwe as a family and needed to be kept as one," Garikai said.

The nation and family remembers him as an icon of frankness, candid talk and defender of justice, who remained determined to uphold the ideals of liberation principles and honest leadership.

Born on December 6, 1923, at Nyariri Village, under Chief Negomo, Chiweshe, Mazowe District, Joseph  Msika was a responsible young man who believed that it was his duty to contribute to the upkeep of his father's family. For this reason, he took a part time job with a transport firm in Bulawayo to help with the payment of school fees for the younger members of his family.

The invaluable experience he got from the various places where he worked and the general injustice and oppression in the country influenced him to take up trade unionism, especially with the Textile and Allied Workers' Union in 1954 to fight for the emancipation of the black worker.

It was during his days in trade unionism that he met other founders of early liberation protest movements like the late Masotsha Ndlovu, Benjamin Burombo and Dr Joshua Nkomo.

Vice President Msika also received a lot of inspiration from the ideas of Pan-Africanists like Chief Albert Luthuli and Clement Kadali and more importantly, the first generation of African nationalists.

As a testimony to his leadership abilities, Msika was elected chairman of the old ANC, Bulawayo branch which later merged 1957 merged with the African National Youth League in the then Salisbury to form a new ANC. In 1959 he was arrested and detained at Khami Maximum Prison where he met other nationalists from Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi).

In 1961, the vibrant Joseph Msika organised mass strikes that invited the wrath of the Smith regime. He was arrested and sent to Marandellas Prison where he met Mugabe signaling the beginning of a long term political relationship.

Upon release, he was elected councillor for the National Democratic Party and subsequently at the formation of Zapu in 1962, becoming the party's Secretary for Youth. The party was short lived and was banned by the white racist regime.

He was later to be elected Secretary for External Affairs of the People's Caretaker Council. His continual brushes with the law saw him arrested in 1964 and sent to Gonakudzingwa Prison for a year.

After his release, he went to Lusaka and was chosen to represent Zapu in the Central Committee of the ANC. During his years of fighting for the liberation of the country he prepared for a productive role in a free Zimbabwe by furthering his education obtaining Ordinary and Advanced Level qualifications.

He later enrolled with the University of South Africa (Unisa) where he studied Political Science, Public Administration, Constitutional Law and Economics among other disciplines.

The 1978 Zapu Congress saw him being elected Vice President of the Party following the death of another icon of the struggle Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.

Msika was instrumental in the formation of the Patriotic Front and was part of the delegation to Geneva as well as the Lancaster House conference in 1979.

At Independence, Vice President Msika held several ministerial and Parliamentary positions including Minister of Natural Resources and Water Development up to 1982. A firm believer in the unity of the people Msika was again instrumental in the signing Unity Accord in 1987 between the two liberation movements, Zanu-PF and-PF-Zapu. Msika who believed in the importance of national unity was a member of the four man unity committee, devoted his time and energy towards the creation of unity among Zimbabwean people, a dream that was realised on December 22, 1987 with the signing of the Unity Accord that gave birth to the unified Zanu-PF.

Following the Unity Agreement, Msika was appointed Senior Minister of Public Construction and National Housing in January 1988 and in April of the same year became Minister of Local Government and Urban Development, a post he held until 1995.

During this period, he also served as Zanu-PF National Chairman and also a member of the Politburo, Central Committee and National Consultative Assembly. In the 1995 General Elections he was elected Member of Parliament for Pelandaba constituency.

That same year he was appointed a full time worker at the Zanu-PF Headquarters where he was tasked with the restructuring and re-organisation of the party. Following the death of Vice President Joshua Nkomo on July 1, 1999, Msika was unanimously elected Second Secretary and Vice President of Zanu-PF in December 1999 in Harare.

On December 23 that year, he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's Vice President. With the launch of the Third Chimurenga, Msika became chairman of the Land Acquisition Committee tasked to spearhead the Land Reform Programme.

The late hero was also a leader with a great heart and compassion. He was instrumental in the construction of the Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo, a state-of- the-art hospital initiated by the late Vice President Dr Nkomo. He was also behind the construction of Chikombedzi Hospital after he came across a patient being ferried in a scotch cart to a hospital 20 kilometres away during one of his rallies.

Given his illustrious nationalist career and sacrifices and undoubted patriotism, the Zanu-PF Politburo unanimously agreed to confer the National Hero status upon him. On delivering his message of condolence, President Mugabe described the late Vice President Msika as a man of high stature and a fearless freedom fighter.

President Mugabe urged his family to "derive comfort and solace from the tributes sure to flow in abundance and in diverse forms from the nation that he helped liberate and found."— Additional reporting from A guide to the Heroes Acre.

Source - chronicle