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Dr Nkomo: The triumph and paradox of the liberation agenda

28 Jun 2020 at 07:28hrs | Views
Early career timing and ideological wiring

THE nationalist anti-colonial movement in modern Zimbabwe directly intertwines the ideological efforts and political charisma of the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo.

Dr Nkomo's role in the anti-Rhodesian struggle resides in the ambit of the broad-based agenda linked to the total liberation of Africa. In essence, the late Vice-President's legacy is located in the global scope of the pan-Africanist political pragmatism dating back to the mid-1940s.

The birth of Dr Nkomo's political career dovetailed with the unstoppable momentum of Africa's total decolonisation mission. To this end, pan-Africanism, as embodied in the leadership credence of Dr Nkomo and his fellow liberation counterparts at home and abroad, serves as a counter-hegemonic ideology to imperialist domination. In political terms, the late VP epitomises the inception of the organic liberation genes to Zimbabwe's contemporary national question.

Inside Zimbabwe's liberation struggle

Dr Nkomo rose to early popularity after his distinguished labour movement exploits dating back to the 1945 workers-led civil disobedience initiatives. In 1948, he became president of the Railway African Workers Union. The union was famous for co-ordinated major labour riots in Rhodesia.

The urban riots were a foundation of massive sabotage activities, which set the cause of nationalist resistance ablaze. Later on, Dr Nkomo was to be a leading brand of Zimbabwe's decolonisation under the banner of African nationalism. This is why he is celebrated as "Father Zimbabwe".

Even after his 1980 presidential electoral defeat, the Robert Mugabe-led Government invited Dr Nkomo to be part of the new administration.

This was in the spirit of the revolutionary solidarity shared by the two late founding fathers of Zimbabwe in the pre-independence era.

Having been president of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (SRANC) in 1957, Dr Nkomo pioneered nationalism in assuming an institutional route. The African race question and, inseparably, the class question became the conduit of nationalist mobilisation.

At this particular point, the Land Husbandry Act of 1957 enhanced the Land Apportionment Act of 1930 in deepening segregation with respect to land access and animal de-stocking.

The Land Husbandry Act coincided with the peak of the anti-colonial movement that had gained support.

The land question automatically became the rallying point of this newly pro-African political movement.

Based on this and the need for a democratic alternative to settler politics in Southern Rhodesia, Dr Nkomo became active in nationalist politics.

He led the wave of Africans demanding democracy as a tool to dismantle imperial economic domination.

This explains why the proposed model of contemporary democracy is attached to neoliberal property rights and encourages free-market economies that suppress the fundamentals of the third-world economic liberation.

Dr Nkomo's involvement in the democracy struggle was not only to the distribution of power, but also to the fair distribution of the means of production.

This explains his trade-unionist entry-point within the liberation movement.

The colonial administration banned the SRANC in February 1959 after noting the massive threat it posed to white hegemony. The banning of the SRANC saw the nationalists form another political outfit, National Democratic Party (NDP), in January 1960.

At this point, nationalist politics had reached a high actualisation stage. There was an accelerated turn towards deep anti-colonial consciousness. Due to his clear record as a forerunner to nationalist politics, Dr Nkomo assumed the top post in the NDP right up to its banning on 9 December 1961.

The nationalists formed Zapu that same month and Dr Nkomo was president. Zapu existed right from the beginning of the armed struggle. It was the first political movement to use the name "Zimbabwe". That marked a significant and defining point to envisioning the birth of a nation independent from Rhodesia.

Zapu was involved in both the political and military activities which fast-tracked the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference and later Zimbabwe's independence.

The post-independence constructions of democracy

At independence, Dr Nkomo's Zapu was a major competitor of Zanu-PF. Dr Nkomo's determination for Zapu's political competitiveness in Zimbabwe kept post-independence power contestations in synch with the nation's revolutionary aspirations.

Zapu's role as a purely nationalist opposition party was critical as it ensured that the incumbent maintained the ideals of the revolution. After all, the fact that Zipra and Zanla had fought a war from different fronts for the attainment of democracy was enough to create the basis for a multi-party system and political pluralism in independent Zimbabwe.

Years later after the signing of the Unity Accord, Morgan Tsvangirai formed the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with the help of Western powers. Surprisingly, Dr Nkomo, who endured the post-independence disturbances, was never afforded the same honour by the colonial powers.

Likewise, Cdes Kembo Mohadi, Angelina Masuku, Sydney Malunga and many other Zapu cadres who also endured the post-independence disturbances were never accorded the same global recognition and accolades, which some fly-by-night human rights defenders are getting now.

The Zapu victims, including those whose lives were lost during an era now known as Gukurahundi, were not given the global attention which some individuals are receiving today — including those whose alleged disappearances and abductions are still rooted in mystery. This exposes the insincerity of the democracy agenda as a tool by the West to maintain its interference in our domestic affairs as a means of reinforcing neo-colonial hegemony in Zimbabwe.

The Neo-imperialist vulgarities to Joshua Nkomo's legacy

Today, sponsored activists and neo-imperial political grand standers are selectively manipulating the remembrance of the Gukurahundi era to advance a memory of dismemberment. They are mischievously manipulating the legacy of Dr Nkomo to demonise the current leadership of Zanu-PF as if the late Vice President was never part of it. All these institutions and individuals now appropriating Dr Nkomo for petty political scores are gatekeepers of neo-colonialism.

Their ahistorical political discourse is on dismantling the organic attributes of our democracy in a bid to replace it with Western liberal notions of power. These neo-colonial opportunists aggressively call for the onslaught of nationalist movements in favour of global-market subservient regimes in Africa.

Nationalist movements like Zanu-PF, which are rooted in virtues of liberation icons like Dr Nkomo, continue to face the inevitable risk of decimation at the hand of such detractors. Today, the ideologically misplaced discourse of market-oriented governance cultures, which unquestioningly submits to predispositions of Western direct investments at the expense of national liberation, entangles our politics.

The paradox of the contemporary reactionary democracy imposed on us is founded on virtues of economic indigenisation, equitable resource access and breaking the perpetuation of the asymmetrical global order that has kept Africa poor for centuries.

This explains the co-existence of the superficial notions of democracy with the idea of advancing neoliberal enfranchisements rejected by Dr Nkomo and his African revolutionary counterparts.

The Zimbabwean agrarian revolution continues to attract wholesale hostilities from the West because of the reactionary efforts of entities like MDC Alliance. The countless lobbying for the consolidation of the punitive whip of sanctions by the opposition is evidence of the gross denigration of the ideals of the founding nationalists.

The same neo-colonial agents push the good governance and human and property rights narrative — a smokescreen for the fight against the agrarian reform. This reaffirms their mandate to maintain the economic discrepancies invented by colonialism. These regime-change machinations are a denigration of the founding values of our liberation agenda and the sacrifices made by liberation heroes like the late Joshua Nkomo. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all who subscribe to the founding philosophy of the liberation agenda to reject the contemporary manifestations of imperialism.

*On Wednesday, 1 July Zimbabweans will mark 21 years since the death of Dr Nkomo, famously known as Father Zimbabwe.

Dr Obert Moses Mpofu is Zanu-PF National Secretary for Administration. The article is from his forthcoming book, On the Shoulders of the Struggle: Memoires of a Political Insider.
Source - Sunday News
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