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Why Obert Mpofu ditched Joshua Nkomo and joined Mugabe's Zanu-PF in 1980

12 Apr 2020 at 08:40hrs | Views
From Zapu and becoming Zanu-PF

CDE Robert Mugabe's electoral popularity 1980 at independence only proved that the future of Zimbabwean politics resided in Zanu-PF. The coalition government which was created after the then Zanu had a majority in Parliament after the 1980 election was a progressive rewinding course to the spirit of the Patriotic Front which was established in 1976. Moreover, the pre-1963 fraternity of the nationalist organs was reaffirmed. However, the manifest fault-lines of the Lancaster became the agent of conflict which further disintegrated the connexion which Zapu and Zanu had established after independence.

Having noted the Lancaster blunders and calculated the possible scenarios, I decided to join Zanu after independence. To some this has been viewed as a great betrayal to Zapu and Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo in particular. However, what is unknown to many is that Nkomo welcomed my decision to cross floors to Zanu. He did not take offence in this decision. Let alone, Nkomo himself conceded to the given reality that the future of Zimbabwean politics was in Zanu, hence the role of the Unity-Accord as the facilitator of Nkomo's submission to fate. Then Zanu-PF was born at the emotive nation-building directive of the Unity-Accord.

The fact that Zanu-PF is still in power to this day and Nkomo's Zapu is no more justifies my rationality to join the then Zanu immediately after independence. Sensationally speaking, this may sound morally wrong, but in pragmatic terms, this was the correct thing to do. Nkomo himself could not resist the reality of the then Zanu dominance. My wife who was a Zapu councillor also joined me and we became bona fide members of Zanu. I was grateful that Nkomo respected my decision to leave Zapu. In so doing, he proved to be a very accommodative leader who would not impose himself on anyone. Nkomo had always been that open-minded and he was objective in digesting views which he opposed. Nkomo transformed me from a cadre of war to a very serious politician. In 1995 when I was campaigning for the Bubi-Umguza Seat Nkomo took me to Ntabazinduna and endorsed my candidature. This solidified my relationship with him both at a personal and at a political level.

In his company, I never felt like a subordinate. He always made me feel like his equal and for me that was a humbling experience. The moments of laughter with Nkomo and our mutual exchange of ideas strengthened an already unbreakable bond. His warm personality demystified the mythical aura which was linked to his person. I remember the countless times I visited his house, the hospitality there was just out of this world. The key lesson from Nkomo's kindness is that a leader must be accessible and must not view the company of his followers as a bother. Nkomo's openness to me in the infancy of my political journey only proved that a true leader finds the company of his followers to be a blessing. Nkomo's main teaching was that leaders must listen and attend to the plight of the people and never take them for granted or look down upon them. Based on that philosophy, I have earned huge electoral support in Matabeleland North province because of the principles the late former Vice-President Nkomo imparted in me.

During the precious moments of interacting with Umdala Wethu, I was intellectually enriched, Nkomo was a fountain of wisdom. He also taught me that wisdom is acquired through listening to and learning from others. According to this principle, leaders lend ears to those who submit to their leadership. As a result, authentic leadership does not dictate. Instead, it is sustained by the wishes of the people. To this day, I am still trying by all means to emulate this gift which Nkomo had. His ability to listen to anyone regardless of their position in society only proved how humble Nkomo was regardless of the great respect which he commanded not only as a senior politician but as a champion of African nationalism and a doyen of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.

His support for my business interests

Even during his days as Vice-President, he would ask me to be part of his delegation whenever he attended to his several personal and national errands. Unconsciously, the Late Father Zimbabwe buttressed this fatherhood effect on me. I remember when I bought some properties from the late Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, Nkomo encouraged me to prioritise investment. From time to time, I consulted him for business ideas. His door was always open for advice, especially to young people. At a national level, he believed that policy-making must create a friendly environment for innovation to thrive and Nkomo had so much confidence in young people whom he viewed as the anchor of the national development agenda. It was through Nkomo that Mr Strive Masiyiwa the telecoms mogul, was elevated to a multi-millionaire. This was because Nkomo had faith in young people and this can be traced back to how he raised teenagers and youth of my generation to take part in the armed struggle.

The late Vice-President encouraged me to venture into business as he always reiterated that there was life after politics. It was based on his wisdom that I ventured into business to supplement my formal income. Nkomo's support for local business ideas encouraged my commitment to acquiring fixed and movable assets. He was a champion of economic empowerment. As his student, I was then committed to living up to his teaching by venturing into business. Beyond his political influence to me, Nkomo inspired my interest to invest in property acquisition.

In the process, I became an adherent of African economic empowerment at a time White monopoly capital was dominant in our various sectors of production. I owe my achievements in business to the entrepreneurial talents which I borrowed from Father Zimbabwe. He is famous for the axiom; Nxa ufuna imali lima (If you want to be rich utilise the land for production). This alone proves that Joshua Nkomo's obligation to the freedom of Zimbabwe was not only political, but he also had a bigger vision for the economic liberation of Zimbabwe. Nkomo's involvement in the fight against colonialism was strongly linked to the democratisation of the economy given the prevailing conditions of White economic monopoly.

Indeed, Nkomo was larger than life politician and a champion of economic empowerment, the lifelong lesson he offered to my career has been that of resolute loyalty to the republic. Here is a man who initiated the fight for the struggle for liberation, but due to his entrapments in colonial designs of the guillotining of his agenda, he is pushed to the periphery. However, at all costs, he is willing to submit to fate and still negotiate amicable conflict resolution and pursue the goal of peace and national unity. Once in power, he also served as an agent for the economic democratisation agenda at a time colonial capitalist monopoly was deeply entrenched in post-independence economics. All these qualities unquestionably depict Nkomo as a true-born African liberator. To this end, he remains a source of inspiration not only to those of us who enjoyed direct access to his phenomenal character, but he is an effigy of true nationalism to every Zimbabwean.

The logic of being Zanu-PF

My affiliation to Zanu-PF was based on the realisation of the people of Zimbabwe's democratic choice to vote Zanu-PF into power in 1980. Our fight for independence was anchored on the need to achieve majority rule and Zanu-PF was an embodiment of that cause. It was clear that the aspirations of the freedom we fought for resided more in Zanu-PF as the party of the majority. Zanu-PF's electoral triumph leading to the 1980 landmark transition substantiated the magnitude of the party's popularity. It made more sense for me to situate my futuristic political interests in Zanu-PF. As a result, my decision to join Zanu-PF was a result of a clear evaluation of the future of Zimbabwean politics.

By then Zanu-PF presented itself as the party of the future. It did not make sense for me to be in the opposition. After all, opposition parties are formed to be in Government, therefore I had the opportunity to join those in Government then. I did exactly that and 40 years down the line, Zanu-PF is still the party in Government. I recall tendering my resignation from Zapu at the time. I was warned that I was headed towards the end of my political career. A few years down the line we were reunited with our Zapu comrades after the signing of the Unity Accord.

The author Dr Obert Moses Mpofu is Zanu-PF's Secretary for Administration and a Member of the Politburo.

Source - sundaynews
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