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How Nhari, Badza rebels were 'crushed'

13 Oct 2019 at 06:54hrs | Views
Last week, freedom fighter Parker Chipoyera told Levi Mukarati of an uprising famously called the Nhari-Badza rebellion  during the liberation struggle.

The revolt, according to Parker, saw Zipra leaders deploy a crack team to restore order. The freedom fighter also talks of the internal killings that were going on in Zanu during that time.

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Question: You mentioned the deployment of a group of fighters to neutralise the rebels, how did they execute this?

Answer: The fighters from West Africa were on a no-negotiating directive. They were under the command of Josiah Tongogara and Robson Manyika, These two commanders had vowed to crush the rebels.

Why was there such a tough stance? The reason was simple, the leaders had earlier seen the capability of Frolizi to destroy the party and derail the liberation struggle efforts. Also, Frolizi was seen as a direct challenge to the leadership.

Hence, the new rebels had to be crushed through all means possible, including eliminations. At the time of the rebellion, there was a team that included Beta, he is still alive and is now retired army Colonel.

Beta was at the front and together with other fighters, they were sent by Badza to go to Chifombo to collect ammunition.

These fighters had been instructed not to use their ammunition, but boost it with supplies from the rear.

I later became close to Beta and that is how I got to know of the perspective of the fighters who were at the front.

We were at the rear, as such, we needed to know what was going on. I later gathered that the Badza and Nhari team had told the fighters not to waste ammunition as they were likely to be caught off guard by the white enemy in Rhodesia since the war strategists in Zambia were not providing war materials.

This explains why the fighters had decided not to conduct any further ambushes against the enemy. The stance by the fighters was seen by Tongo and other leaders as tantamount to a rebellion and an open disregard for the command to confront the Rhodesian soldiers.

Also, the so-called rebels were arguing that the Chinese were taking long in arming them with surface to air missiles. They were saying why not build a relationship with the Soviet Union and get the missiles.

Their line of argument was that the Soviet Union was already supplying Zipra cadres with surface to air missiles, but that grievance was taken as trying to bring the ideology of Zapu.

Question: Are you now bringing in the Zanu, Zapu rift narrative during the war?

Answer: It should be known that while Zanu and Zapu were fighting a common enemy, the split of 1963, which resulted in the formation of Zanu, as an offshoot of Zapu, continued to give problems. It was mostly us in Zanu who did not want to tolerate anything linked to Zapu.

We even despised their war tactic of attacking and retreating.

Taiti humbwende. We viewed them as cowards. So, for our military leaders to stomach being told to adopt the Zapu strategy of turning to the Soviet Union for weapons was like an insult.

The rebels had the support of John Mataure and Noel Mukono, who had been unseated.  Mataure and Mukono were seen as mhesva mukono and having personal scores to settle against Tongogara and Manyika.

This rebellion was not managed well and this led to the killing of people as well as burying some people alive.

Question: I have had stories of claims that Tongo ordered the execution of some of the so-called rebels, but Parker, to say people were buried alive, is this not just your attempt to tarnish the late national hero's name?

Answer: When the war history is told, I do not dispute that there are bound to be exaggerations. But, if you take note, you will realise that there are trails of events that follow the same narrative. While we were outside, we were a closely knit force and we had people moving from one base or camp to the other on a daily basis.

These people relayed news of what was going on in the front, in the camps and modalities to receive both war and food supplies. We also relayed outcomes of meetings that were going on.

This situation ensured that we were well updated with information. So, what I am saying about Nhari and Badza as well as how some of the rebels were punished are not lies.

If these are lies, then I challenge anyone who says he or she has another narrative to come and tell the nation because what we are doing is part of writing history.

We are saying let's speak out the hidden things that transpired long back so that as sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, we wipe our tears dry and move together in one direction.

It's not about praising someone, but it's for our nation.

We want the country to plant a seed so that even future leaders will be able to say dzinde rangu rekubatanidza nyika riri pa First Chimurenga, riri pa Second Chimurenga.

It is not a lie that at Chifombo Cdes Tongo and Manyika, at one time, ordered the burying of rebels alive in a shallow grave.

When they realised that after about three or four days the grave continued to heave, people were ordered to play volleyball on it.

Ask Sarudzai about this, the comrade is now known as Zulu and is alive in Norton around Brayn Store area along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway.

Question: Let us get back to the deployment of a team from East Africa to deal with dissent?

Answer: Initially, the rebels had managed to capture Chifombo and around 10 December, Nhari, Badza, John Mataure, Cuthbert Chimedza and Chemist Ncube and others travelled to Tongogara's house in Lusaka.

Their mission was to kill Tongogara, but the assassination plot was thwarted and Ncube, Nhari as well as a few others managed to escape. Badza, Mataure, Tichatonga, Molife, Chimedza and others were captured.

Some of them were later sent to Chifombo and at that time, the fighters from West Africa had arrived and taken back the camp.

Most of the rebels were then captured. The leaders of the rebels were tried around February 1975 and Chitepo was asked to pass a judgement. He was seen by the likes of Tongogara, Manyika and Chigohwe as sympathetic to the case of these boys.

Chitepo ruled that the rebel leaders be demoted from their ranks.

However, Tongogara secretly caused their execution.

After that, Chitepo escaped and looked for protection from Malawian government.

Then, Hamadziripi went to Malawi and persuaded Chitepo to return to Zambia. Hamadziripi was of the view that Chitepo was respected amongst the fighters and his seeking refuge in Malawi had negative effects on the war.

But, upon his return, Chitepo did not live long before being killed in car bomb explosion.

After that, Rex Nhongo and Robson Manyika fled to Zambia and came to Mgagao. But, when he got there TPDF (Tanzania People's Defence Forces) did not want to see them because they were on wanted list in connection with Chitepo's death.

Robson Manyika was to return and hand himself over to the Zambia police. This was in March 1975.

Question: With these deaths and seemingly confusion, I want to know what was happening where you were, in Mgagao, Tanzania?

Answer: We were with people like Gwauya and Dzinashe Machingura. When they heard of Chitepo's death, after about two days, Rex Nhongo arrived.

Gwauya and Machingura left for Zambia to establish what was happening. When they got to Lusaka, they were also accused by the Zambian police for Chitepo's death and arrested.

In the meantime, Nhongo had taken refuge in a house that was used by members of the High Command. When we saw Rex, and as we tried to understand what was happening, he could not speak over Chitepo's death.

It was clear he had been arrested by his own conscience. We stayed with him and each time officers from TPDF came to the camp, Rex ainzvenga.

He stayed with the cooks. Kaunda in Zambia had said anyone who left his country after the death of Chitepo should be returned to answer what he or she knew about the death.

Question: At the time of the death of Chitepo, were there suspicions that it was an inside job.

Answer: Among us who were at Mgagao and even many others in other camps, I can say no. Most of us believed that the imperialists had killed our chairman.

Question: Sorry to interrupt Cde, but you said when Nhongo came to Mgagao he showed he had been arrested by his conscience. What were you implying?

Answer: True to that. What happens is that whenever there is an incident of such magnitude, people are bound to take the popular narrative. We were fighting the whites and we were not wrong to assume they had killed Chitepo. But, as people unpack events, that is when there is a connection of missing pieces of the puzzle.

That's when you see that we were completely lost.

That is when you ask yourselves why Kaunda was arresting Zanu and Zanla comrades instead of condemning the Rhodesians.

That is when you realise that the Zambian intelligence was also following what we were doing closely.

As such, when I recall my encounters with Rex, I can later safely say he was hiding something.

Again, Manyika initially escaped from Lusaka to Zambia and only to go back after composing himself. Even the stories of the murder of Nhari and Badza; then to think that Chitepo was seen as supporting them, one is forgiven to smell a rat.

Question: So, are you now giving another narrative to say Rex killed Chitepo?

Answer: No, not at all.

Question: What are you saying then?

Answer: He was involved in the plot to kill Chitepo. The military leaders who had crushed the Nhari rebellion planned the death of the Zanu chairman.

They were led by Tongogara, Manyika and Chigohwe.

It is known during that time Tongogara was overall in charge that is why he finds himself, even in his grave, being singled out as the killer of Chitepo.

Never mind the person who actually planted the bomb, they would not have done it without being assigned.

Continued next week

Source - sundaymail
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