Opinion / Columnist
JZ Moyo's death: seeking the identity of interests behind the heinous act
05 Feb 2017 at 07:31hrs | Views
When the Pearce Commission of 1972 was impending, nationalists realised the need to appoint people to rally opinion against the proposed constitutional package. For example, nationalists in Gonakudzingwa gave a letter to Masotsha Ndlovu's wife.
Indeed, she smuggled it out in her shoe and took it to Bishop Abel Muzorewa. It was this leader of the American Methodist Church who led opposition to the proposed constitutional arrangements. The "No" vote was secured.
Following the Lusaka Declaration of December 1974 which brought together the various nationalist parties it became clear that the crafted unity stood on shaky ground. Soon the inevitable happened. The two liberation movements, ZAPU and ZANU got together in a military formation called the Zimbabwe People's Army (ZIPA). Such an alliance and unity within the liberation movements ran counter to the designs of Dr Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State. Besides, the agenda was being pushed in the main by Mozambican President Samora Machel who wished to see the military fight their way from the bush to the office in Harare.
The idea was to sideline the nationalists. That was not to be. ZIPA, whose command comprised 18 members, nine each from the two liberation movements, under the leadership of Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru) soon collapsed following clashes at Mgagao and Morogoro in Tanzania. Soon after that, there were new efforts, this time led by the nationalists, seeking to forge some unity between ZAPU/ZPRA and ZANU/ZANLA. The result was the creation of the Patriotic Front (PF) which was going to attend the Geneva Talks in 1976.
When JZ met his death in the ZAPU office in Lusaka he was coming from Mozambique where he and Joseph Msika, the Zapu Secretary-General, had gone on PF business.
There was no immediate flight to take them to Lusaka after the meeting. They had to wait till Friday. I mention this so that it is appreciated that the Patriotic Front was going to be problematic to Rhodesia. Bringing ZAPU and ZANU into this unity would have brought the Soviet Union closer to Zimbabwe's independence. That was not in the spirit and interests of Dr Kissinger's political game plan.
By pushing the creation and sustenance of the Patriotic Front JZ was flying into the eye of a political storm within the context of the hot Cold War. JZ was still in Zambia when he contacted his girlfriend in Francistown, Botswana.
The existence of the lady acquaintance was an open secret within Zapu circles in Lusaka. When JZ communicated with the Botswana lady, nicknamed "Masibhikiri" he may not have been aware of the status of communications between Zambia and Botswana.
In those days all telecommunications between Zambia and Botswana were channelled through Rhodesia. Communication by Lusaka-based ZAPU officials to their subordinates and counterparts in Botswana was listened to or intercepted. This is to say the Rhodesians knew pretty well all conversations going on between ZAPU officials in Zambia and those in Botswana following the establishment of the Southern Front (SF). The officials, such as Makepesi, received cadres arriving from Rhodesia to join the liberation struggle. Refugee camps had been established at places such as Dukwe, Selebi-Phikwe and in Francistown itself.
Rhodesian intelligence agents found reason to also move into Botswana to coordinate destabilisation efforts, recruit informers and agents and gather intelligence. JZ's phone call should be viewed against these realities obtaining on the ground. The Rhodesian Selous Scouts and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives had a strong presence. Disinformation pamphlets were distributed to cause disharmony, conflict and mutual suspicion in ZPRA camps and elsewhere.
The strategy was designed to achieve multiple gains beyond the death of a targeted individual. There was mutual suspicion which applied brakes to the struggle. Besides, it was a strategy designed to remove attention from the culprits and place the blame on innocents.
There is a need to appreciate that Rhodesian whites worked through African proxies, by and large. During slave trading the Portuguese generally relied on black agents such as the Chikunda who carried out raids on African communities and took the loot to the slave drivers in the east Coast.
There are of course instances when they moved in to plant bombs. This was the case with ZPRA commander Alfred Nikita Mangena. He, in the company of Jevan Maseko and Eddie Sigoge among others, defied advice not to proceed to where a contingent from Angola en route to the front had been ambushed and killed by the Rhodesians. The Rhodesians planted a mine which they monitored from an Observation Post (OP) on a nearby hill. The bomb was detonated by remote control and caused serious injuries to Mangena who later died
The whole scheme to get rid of JZ, the radical revolutionary, was designed in such a way that the parcel bomb would get to the ZAPU office in Lusaka without a hitch. Appropriate personnel on the payroll were available. The telecommunications would provide the opportunity and details of communication between JZ and Masibhikiri the agent in Botswana.
Critically important was to get hold of Masibhikiri's handwriting on the parcel-a delayed Christmas gift. Indeed, the intelligence personnel got to know about the parcel.
Instead, they replaced the contents with a bomb. They had scored victory-acquiring the known and familiar handwriting on the parcel. They had also managed to replace the delayed Christmas gift with a bomb. With the parcel now transformed into a lethal bomb, they gave it back to the post office contact that got it off to Lusaka where it was awaited by another post office agent. Indeed, the parcel got into the hands of the agent.
The Lusaka post office agent wanted to ensure the parcel did get to the office and the most senior official was to collect it.
When I interviewed Amos Jack Ngwenya he told me he sent a junior official to the post office to collect the parcel. This was after the registered parcel slip had been delivered to the ZAPU office. The junior official dutifully went to the post office to collect the parcel. He was, as per plan, denied receipt of the parcel.
The post office agent insisted that the senior official, Amos Jack Ngwenya, who was known to the agent, come to collect the parcel. It was feigned care and concern for safe delivery of the parcel. Indeed, Amos Jack Ngwenya did get to the post office where he signed for the parcel, had it handed over to him and took it to the ZAPU office.
Given the letter/parcel bombs that killed Frelimo leader Eduardo Mondlane, Ruth First and another liberation official, ZAPU took necessary precautions and acquired a parcel/letter scanner.
As a general rule, letters or parcels were scanned before being given to intended recipients. This did not happen with the parcel intended for JZ. This did not come as a surprise.
The staff in the Lusaka office was aware of the existence of the girlfriend in Francistown. Further, the parcel being received was not the first. The handwriting on the parcel was well known. Besides, the parcel was expected. All these factors made the need for scanning the parcel totally uncalled for, from the viewpoint of staff in the office. JZ and Joseph Msika arrived from Maputo on a Friday. They passed through the ZAPU office as was usually JZ's practice. JZ was not given the parcel by Amos Jack Ngwenya who most likely forgot.
The following day was a Saturday and the senior ZAPU officials reported at the ZAPU office. JZ was among those who called at the office. John Landa Nkomo, who had arrived in Lusaka in 1975 together with Simon Vengai Muzenda, was in the office.
Dumiso Dabengwa too was in the office. Insinuations that Amos Jack Ngwenya might have had a hand in the whole saga do not hold water.
The basis for the insinuations is no more than that he did not give the parcel to JZ on the date of his arrival from Maputo-on a Friday. If JZ had been given the parcel he would have died on Friday and not Saturday. The bottom line is that he would have died if he chose to open the parcel himself, which he did on Saturday.
I still remember the account that I got from Ernest Dube (now late) in the 1980s. Amos Jack Ngwenya sat in his chair behind the small table. JZ sat in a chair directly opposite that occupied by Ngwenya. When he received the parcel which Ngwenya took out of a table drawer he uttered words to the effect, "Umuntu uyafa ngezinto zenu lezi." (One could get killed by , your things). JZ knew of cases when parcel bombs killed people such as Mondlane. The other senior ZAPU officials were standing in the same room with others such as Desire Khupe outside the office.
As soon as JZ opened the parcel it exploded and instantly tore out his intestines. A fire broke out which Dabengwa and Nkomo managed to put out. In the process, they too sustained injuries. JZ was dead and word quickly spread out. Relatives from home in Rhodesia went to Lusaka to attend the funeral. Tafi Zibuya Moyo was among those who attended the burial.
All those in the office knew well the effects of an exploding parcel bomb. It does not make sense therefore that Amos Jack Ngwenya and the other ZAPU officials would have elected to remain in the office when they risked death too. Both naivety and gullibility are, however, fully understood and appreciated. The perpetrators of political assassinations are smart guys who do their homework! An inquiry into his death was carried out by ZAPU but was never made public.
I am greatly indebted for the information used in this article that I gleaned from scores and scores of men and women, some living and others departed, who availed themselves to interviews that have spanned three decades.
Lala ngoxolo Ziyapapa Mtalawunda, mntaka Tamuhla loMaNyathi!
Source - sundaynews
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