PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday tried to airbrush the dark chapters that haunt Zanu PF founder member and former cabinet minister Enos Nkala’s life after Independence, instead giving a glowing account of the latter’s contribution to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
Nkala died in Harare last week and was buried at the National Heroes Acre yesterday.
Mugabe deliberately skirted the subject of Nkala’s corruption in the Willowvale Motor Industries scandal, dubbed Willowgate, and his role in the Gukurahundi genocide in Matabeleland and Midlands in which about 20 000 people were reportedly massacred. He described Nkala as a great friend and gallant fighter who masterminded the formation of Zanu.
“A (prepared) speech will not do much justice to Nkala,” Mugabe said.
“Let me open my heart to you all,” he said as he began a long and glowing eulogy at the national shrine.
“Let me tell you my story as I walked the distance with Nkala from 1960 to the present day — Nkala, a gallant fighter, an unyielding fighter and a great friend.”
Mugabe went on to chronicle the history of the liberation struggle, highlighting Nkala’s central contribution, with his crowning moment being his successful push for the formation of Zanu at his Highfield house in 1963.
Mugabe also spoke of how the combative and abrasive Nkala overcame his limited education in prison, successfully completing a degree which enabled him to become independent Zimbabwe’s first finance minister.
He only mentioned Nkala’s post-Independence roles in the Defence, Finance and Home Affairs portfolios before skipping to the subject of his illness and subsequent death.
At no point did Mugabe touch on Nkala’s role in the 1980s’ Gukurahundi massacres where civilians were butchered by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade under a pretext of purportedly dealing with dissidents.
Mugabe neither spoke about the 1988 Willowvale scandal which led to Nkala leaving both government and Zanu PF after being fingered alongside his friend, the late Maurice Nyagumbo and others for abusing their positions to corruptly acquire cars at knockdown prices only to resell them for colossal profits.
Family spokesperson Herbert Nkala also downplayed any differences between his uncle and Mugabe, saying at the time of his death he had accepted the idea of being buried at the Heroes’ Acre