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Understanding ZAPU - The Early Days- pt 2

23 Dec 2014 at 09:06hrs | Views

The Zimbabwe African People's Union - commonly referred to as ZAPU - was then formed in 1961, to replace the banned National Democratic Party. ZAPU is the first and authentic liberation movement of Zimbabwe which had grassroots support throughout the country and beyond. Its leadership structure was and has always been national in its outlook. The composition of its first-ever National Executive

Committee of December 17 1961 best illustrates this point:
1. President Joshua M. Nkomo
2. Vice President Samuel Parirenyatwa
3. Treasurer Jason Z. Moyo
4. Financial Secretary George Nyandoro
5. National Chairman Ndabaningi Sithole
6. National Secretary Morton Malianga
7. Deputy National Secretary Agrippa Mukahlera
8. National Organising Secretary Clement Muchachi
9. Publicity and Information Secretary Robert Mugabe
10. Deputy Publicity Secretary Dan Ncube
11. Secretary for Public Relations James Chikerema
12. Secretary for Youth Affairs Joseph Msika
13. Secretary for External & Pan African Affairs Leopold Takawira
14. Secretary for Women's Affairs Jane Ngwenya

Of the fourteen members of the committee, a staggering ten were non-Ndebele speaking fearless revolutionaries. The 1961 ZAPU Constitution, which has obviously been amended and updated but spiritually adhered to by today's ZAPU, states very clearly that ZAPU was formed to fight the British colonial system, for Zimbabwean people's right to self-determination, and for national independence. In other words, ZAPU was fighting for human rights, the essence of democracy. This is the compass of nation-building politics and good governance, as well as a foundation for peace. At its inception, the following were set-out as the Party's main objectives:

1) To fight for the immediate and total liquidation of imperialism and colonialism, direct and indirect, and to cooperate with any international forces as are engaged in this struggle
2) To establish a democratic state, with a government based on "one man, one vote"

3) To foster the spirit of Pan-Africanism in Zimbabwe and the maintenance of links with pan-African movements all over Africa.
4) To maintain peaceful and friendly relations with such nations as are friendly and peaceful towards us.
5) To eliminate the economic exploitation of our people, and
6) To foster the best values in African culture and thereby develop the basis of desirable social order.

These were the founding goals and objectives of ZAPU. The existence of ZAPU was based on achieving these goals. A bitter war was waged to accomplish them. Tens of thousands of lives were lost in the process.

Sadly, thirty four years after independence, most – if not all – of these objectives have not been achieved. Instead of establishing a democratic state, ours is a tyrannical one with no respect for human life or the wishes of the majority. Instead of maintaining friendly relations with nations that are friendly and peaceful towards us, we are at war with imagined enemies. Instead of eliminating economic exploitation, we have become the worst exploiters of our own people in order to enrich a select few. However, success was scored in fostering the spirit of Pan Africanism which led to excellent relations between ZAPU and sister liberation movements like MPLA (Angola), ANC (South Africa), FRELIMO (Mozambique) and SWAPO in Namibia. These ties have remained intact and have been a major source of strength for revived ZAPU.

The Mother of All Divisions
ZAPU splits and ZANU is born
In what must rank as a monumental and criminal betrayal of the people's struggle for self-determination on the African continent, on August 8, 1963 ZANU was founded. This was solely as a result of non-ideological but ethnic and personal differences among the nationalists.

The rebels - among them Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, Enos Nkala, Leopold Takawira and Robert Mugabe - charged in 1961 that Joshua Nkomo had accepted a British-sponsored constitution for Southern Rhodesia that accorded Africans 15 out of a proposed Parliament of 65 seats. However, Nkomo had spoken-out both privately and publicly against the distribution of seats in the proposed parliament, which he emphasized left power in white hands. Due to the widespread grassroots support Nkomo enjoyed, the coup attempt was averted; but Takawira and his supporters stayed in the Party awaiting any slight slip in Nkomo's leadership. At that same period, Mugabe went as far as to suggest the inauguration of a new party as the only way to rid themselves of Nkomo as their leader. As a result, and according to Eliakim M. Sibanda's book, one Melwa Ntini – a fellow nationalist – when interviewed about the split, had this to say:

"The major leaders of the opposition to what I saw as Nkomo's leadership and not the constitution as such, for this was used as a pretext of a personal attack on the President of the Party. With the exception of the sorry Enos Nkala who had his personal vendetta against Nkomo, Sithole, Mugabe and Takawira were all late-comers to the party who all joined the party after Bottomely (Sir Arthur) announced that there was going to be a constitutional conference on Rhodesia…….and they can only be dismissed as the work of agitators who were bent on securing leadership even at the risk of dividing the party"

And according to the same book, the road to the split was littered with a number of ploys by the dissidents. At one point, they convened a meeting on the farm of a liberal white sympathiser called Sir Stuart Gore-Brown. When James Chikerema tipped-off Nkomo about the plot to either capture or assassinate him at the farm meeting, Nkomo declined to attend. After extracting a confession from one of the dissidents – Eddison Zvobgo – that he and his comrades no longer considered Nkomo as their leader, Nkomo suspended Sithole, Malianga, Mugabe and Takawira as a disciplinary measure. The dissidents then convened a meeting in Tanganyika (Tanzania) whose sole purpose was to eliminate Nkomo as leader. At that meeting, Nkomo was deposed and Ndabaningi Sithole was put in his place.

Upon realising that Nkomo remained popular, the dissidents formed a splinter group, ZANU. Two days after ZANU was formed, ZAPU called for a People's Conference at Cold Comfort Farm just outside Salisbury. Five thousand delegates attended this conference and among other things, the suspensions of Messrs. Sithole, Mugabe, Malianga and Takawira was confirmed and a new look executive was elected.

True to ZAPU culture, a national and not ethnic leadership was announced as follows:
1. President Joshua M. Nkomo
2. Deputy President James D. Chikerema
3. Secretary to the President William J. Mukarati
4. Secretary General George Nyandoro
5. Deputy Secretary General Edward S. Ndlovu
6. National Chairman Samuel Munodawafa
7. Treasurer General Jason Z. Moyo
8. Financial Secretary George Marange
9. Secretary for External Affairs Joseph Msika
10. Secretary for Youth and Cultural Affairs Clement Muchachi
11. Dep. Sec. for Youth and Cultural Affairs Mhariwa B. Gumbo
12. Secretary for Information and Publicity T. George Silundika
13. Deputy Information and Publicity Sec. Alois Z. Wingwiri
14. Secretary for Women's Affairs Jane Ngwenya
15. Secretary for Public Relations Willie D. Musarurwa
16. Secretary for Organisation Lazarus Nkala

Again, just like in the previous executive committee, only six of the sixteen members were Ndebele speaking.

Taurai Njekete Studied Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management and is doing his Post-Doctoral Research at the Institute for Mathematics and Science Teaching University of Stellenbosch. Mr Njekete's main interest is to document and narrate the history of the liberation struggle with particular emphasis on ZAPU his beloved Party.

Released by ZAPU Europe Information, Publicity and Marketing Department.

Source - ZAPU Europe Information, Publicity and Marketing Department
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