Punished for speaking out on the underdevelopment of Matabeleland, he was stripped of his rank as governor of Matabeleland North.
Now, 10 years later, he has settled the score.
President Robert Mugabe was just days earlier pontificating on who could and could not be laid to rest at Heroes Acre. Only Zanu PF cadres qualified, he ruled. That in essence meant the clique around him. But with Mabhena there appeared to be a relaxation of this rigid posture. It was clear that any refusal to recognise Mabhena’s contribution to the nation’s freedom would provoke very real outrage in Matabeleland, especially when only days earlier Ephraim Masawi had been laid to rest at the national shrine.
So Mabhena was proclaimed a national hero. But then the Mabhena family intervened. “Not so fast,” they told Zanu PF. Our father and brother made it abundantly clear before his death that he did not wish to rest “alongside thieves and crooks”. Anyway, he was no longer a member of Zanu PF, they declared, making it impossible for him to qualify.
And nothing could move them. A number of Zanu PF luminaries were dispatched to change the family’s collective mind. “There are some from government that came here to try and arm-twist us into agreeing to bury our father in Harare,” his brother Norman said.
“We have resisted that attempt.”
So Zanu PF was rebuffed. The Sunday Mail tried to make the best of a bad job by splashing John Nkomo’s photograph on its front page paying his respects. But he was one of those sent packing a few days earlier. And none of the commentaries in the official press mentioned Mabhena’s detention at Eiffel Flats by Mugabe’s government in the early 1980s. Instead they all mentioned his detention by Ian Smith’s government in the 1970s.
By trying to maintain an iron grip on the “heroic” process, Zanu PF opened up some dangerous fissures. For instance, do members of the current Zapu qualify? It appears that decisions of state like this are made on the tarmac at Harare airport.
In the Mabhena case the partisan weakness of the system has been exposed for all to see. Can you imagine, Saviour Kasukuwere sitting in a politburo meeting to determine Mabehena’s status when he wasn’t even born in the period under discussion.
Mugabe would have been better advised to establish, in keeping with the GPA, a bipartisan system that recognised the contributions of all, not –– as in some cases –– the dubious credentials of a few.
And what an irony when a real hero prefers to be buried in a cemetery named after the wife of a colonial governor rather than a North Korean monstrosity.
Judith Todd in her autobiography, Through the Darkness, refers to a senior CIO officer named Tekere who was based at Kadoma. He had been in charge of Mabhena during Mabhena’s detention at Eiffel Flats. When Mabhena became Matabeleland North governor, Tekere was at the same time promoted to head the CIO in Bulawayo where he had to report to Mabhena.
“Mabhena…,” Todd writes, “had suffered under Tekere while detained at Eiffel Flats. When I heard of their new relationship, I asked Governor Mabhena: ‘How can you bear it’? Welshman Mabhena looked at me with a still, steady, delighted grin. After a few seconds he answered my question with another. ‘Shouldn’t you be asking: ‘How can he bear it’?”
What is happening at the Passport Office? Why should applicants sleep there in order to obtain the necessary forms? Is this an attempt to limit the number of people applying?
The Registrar-General, who has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons, should at least make it easier for people to obtain the forms. Only 200 forms are issued a day.
Following a report in NewsDay this week, Deputy Transport minister Tichaona Mudzingwa has called for an investigation into the way application forms are corruptly distributed in the early hours.
He saw for himself forms being distributed for cash to those who had jumped the queue.
But there shouldn’t be such queues in the first place at 3:00 in the morning. Those forms should be available to all applicants when they need them in office hours.
The deputy minister is right in describing Tobaiwa Mudede’s office as guilty of incompetence. We want to see those forms oozing from under his door.
Media minister Webster Shamu has said the government will not deny anyone the right to access information of their choice.
“We are the ones who brought freedom and Independence,” he told the Sunday Mail…so why would we not allow our people to enjoy that?”
What’s the answer? Why does the state persist in bringing charges against journalists whose only crime has been to cause discomfort to powerful personalities?
Several journalists from our newspapers continue to face charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Zanu PF may have brought Independence to Zimbabwe. But press freedom is something we had to fight for in the teeth of resistance from that party.
Is Shamu aware of the fate of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto in 1999? They were brutally tortured. Is he aware of the threats made against the Standard by President Mugabe when the judiciary complained about contempt of court by state officials?
But putting aside those very serious matters, there was some humour in Shamu’s interview.
“We are preparing our people to become good broadcasters,” he said. “They must learn from ZBC.”
At which point we could hear our building shake with laughter.
Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo on his Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese dissidents are a brave lot and deserve recognition. They stand very simply for democracy and human rights, something the repressive regime in Beijing denies to its people.
Liu dedicated his award to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
The Chinese government described the award as “an obscenity”, presumably meaning that it feels the same way about democracy and human rights.
Perhaps if it had kept quiet fewer people would know about the award!
Meanwhile, next door the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was demonstrating democracy North Korean-style as a chubby youngster appeared at a military parade to indicate that one day soon he will be assuming the mantle of power from his father. Educated in Switzerland he likes fast cars and the Western lifestyle, we are told.
All very democratic you understand!
The Sadc presidential triumvirate that had been due to visit Washington to ask President Barack Obama to drop sanctions will not now be going, Muckraker understands. The Americans have said nothing would be gained from such a visit and that Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson spelt out the difficulties when he met Elton Mangoma’s team. Anyway, Obama has a very tight schedule and it’s not clear when the Sadc leaders could be fitted in.
This is inevitable. Sadc, headed by executive director Tomaz Salomao acts like a cheerleader for Mugabe. He has also been condescending to Tsvangirai telling him how he should address Sadc leaders.
“The MDC has to learn how we do business in Sadc,” he pompously admonished when asked about a letter of complaint sent to his office.
More seriously, Mugabe’s unilateral appointment of provincial governors drives a coach and horses through the GPA.
America’s message to the Sadc leaders is the same as the EU’s. Adhere to the GPA terms, abandon political violence and uphold the rule of law. Until that happens sanctions will remain.
Which bits of the above does Jacob Zuma, Rupiah Banda, and Hifikepunye Pohamba not understand?
Readers have responded with fury to the new regulations governing imported vehicles. And so they should. This is another inconvenience for ordinary folk. But what we should be asking is who benefits from this? You can bet somebody somewhere down the line stands to make money. Converting a vehicle from left to right-hand drive is not difficult for a trained mechanic, we are told. So watch this space.
And by the way, who benefited from the number plate changes?
Finally, in a welcome reproduction of our story of August 13 on the disappearing proceeds from gold and diamonds at the ZMDC, matched by some very rich executives, the Herald carried the same story on Tuesday. It should also have borrowed our picture of ZMDC CEO Dominic Mubayiwa’s mansion in Borrowdale.
That would illustrate the way parastatal chefs are promoting empowerment!