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Sithembiso Nyoni reveals details of Joshua Nkomo's last days

by Nduduzo Tshuma
01 Jul 2016 at 08:22hrs | Views
THE Late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo remained very close to President Mugabe and in his last days frequently requested that the head of State is called so that he would visit and talk about a number of things.

Dr Nkomo died on July 1, 1999.

Speaking on the last days of the veteran nationalist and one of the founding fathers of the liberation struggle, former Minister of State in Dr Nkomo's office, Sithembiso Nyoni said the late Father Zimbabwe wanted to share a number of principles he wanted to be upheld after his death.

"He was very close to the President and referred to him as umfana wami u Robert, after a while he would request that, "alike lingibizele umfana wami u Robert. That's how close they were," said Nyoni who is now the Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development.

"There are three things that Dr Nkomo always emphasised on and the President has once said it, he left this message with the President and the country that the land should be given to the masses, unity was important, the people should unite and let there not be any chaos because he signed the Unity Accord in his wish that this country isn't divided.

"The third principle he cherished was peace, he wanted the country to be peaceful; at all times. He didn't want people to be easily swayed outside peaceful means because at the end you would associate yourself with trouble, if you see people striking then you go and join, if you see people establishing something then you want to join, he wanted peace to prevail all the time."

Nyoni said Dr Nkomo was also a development oriented person who always encouraged people to think big.

She said Dr Nkomo wanted priority to be given to the development of the people and that of Zimbabwe.

"I got to know ubaba uNkomo a long time ago and when the late Sydney Malunga died (in 1994), he said I should contest in Makokoba in place of Malunga. I found it easy to enter because already, the people listened to him," said Nyoni.

Nyoni said after being voted in Parliament to represent the Makokoba constituency, she was appointed deputy minister of Public Construction and National Housing and then in 1998 was appointed minister of State in Dr Nkomo's office.

"What impressed me so much is that he was a conscientious man who wanted to see results who didn't want to hear too much talk. During that short time in his office, I travelled with him to Egypt. He wanted to find partners for Zimbabwe particularly in the value addition on our resources," said Nyoni.

"He wanted Egypt to work with us especially in the gold value chain. After that we went to the UK, Italy, United Kingdom, and Vienna Austria. He visited all these countries so that the Development Trust of Zimbabwe could have investors in different areas. He wanted to secure equipment for the value addition of Timber in Muzarabani, Lupane, Nkayi and all those areas with timber."

Nyoni said Dr Nkomo was passionate about value addition that is included as a cluster of the Zim-Asset government blue print.

"He also wanted value addition of tomatoes. All these women who farm tomatoes, he predicted it before we all were aware that there would be an influx of vendors in the street and I think if he was living today, these people in the streets would be minimised because he had a vision and a drive," said Nyoni.

"The people listened to him, when he said something, everyone would follow. He had a vision of both linking the grassroots and national activities of the national economy. This is what I remember him for. I want to thank the President because he remains in pursuit of the things Dr Nkomo envisioned and the people really acknowledge that."

Nyoni however, lamented the lack of documentation around Dr Nkomo's legacy challenging former Zapu and Zipra cadres to initiate programmes to capture that history.

"I think the celebration of his life every 1 July is important to remind the people or even at some point this day be declared a holiday so that the people don't forget his contributions," she said.

"I think we should write books and have documentaries because there are no serious documentaries about Dr Joshua Nkomo. There's no narrative or what's written about the struggle and his leadership and what was done by Zipra and I think the history of Zipra isn't as documented as that of Zanla," said Nyoni.

"Those who were in, Zipra, for the sake of Joshua Nkomo's legacy, should start writing, they should start telling us what happened in Lusaka. They are less vocal than those who trained in Mozambique.

"When it comes to unity, I think that's when we start talking both armies and both parties. It's important for us to really tell the history, write about it, talk about it and sing about it.

"The songs written around Mqabuko are dying. They are no longer there in the national vive. I think we need to keep that legacy by recording what Umdala did."

Nyoni said she still gets a lot of inspiration from the time she worked with Dr Nkomo especially on his vision on economic development and investment.

"His vision was to boost investment and didn't want us to rely on others. I get inspired by my two leaders equally, Dr Nkomo and President Mugabe because they want to end poverty through helping people to create their wealth," said Nyoni.

"They didn't believe that you end poverty by giving people hand outs but they believed that it would end if you encourage women to farm tomatoes and fruits then send to Zigrenda to produce fruit juice through value addition.

"I get inspired through all that vision which now we are really implementing in earnest. That's why we need to remember UMdala and remain united and hard working because he was hard working and never sat down."

Source - the herald