In this week’s instalment of PF-Zapu-Zanu PF unity efforts during the liberation struggle, Tjenesani Ntungakwa details how Zapu’s success on the war front restored the party’s confidence in itself.
IT is said former PFZapu’s former chief of staff of the party’s High Command — its highest decision-making body during the liberation struggle — Robson Manyika insisted on Zapu dissolving itself so as to be a part of Zanu.
However, such hiccups did not necessarily stall the progress that had to be made in the context of the Joint Military Command (JMC).
The chairman of the external wing of Zanu, Herbert Chitepo, presented a report dated March 30 1972.
It was entitled Zimbabwe African National Union, Latest Report on the Zapu-Zanu Unity Moves and printed by the department of information and publicity. It was basically a summary of Zanu’s appreciation of the JMC and its disapproval of the prior existence of Frolizi (Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe).
Chitepo’s account began by narrating what had taken place at the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) Liberation Committee caucus held at Benghazi, Libya, on January 18 1972. At that convention, the Zanu and Zapu delegates signed a “Declaration of Intention”. It specified the areas of interest to both sides. Some of the clauses stated that the JMC aimed at uniting the people of Zimbabwe through the armed struggle.
In other words, the process would develop into a joint mobilisation as well as deployment of the fighting forces.
However, it was also very likely that such new initiatives would definitely not be a speedy achievement. After all, Zapu and Zanu had come a long way and had developed completely different strategies.
The Benghazi Declaration was followed up by a meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at which Zanu and Zapu presented a joint document. The idea was to take the Benghazi Declaration a step further and bring it closer to effective implementation. In Addis Ababa, Zapu and Zanu laid down the specific actions as well as the framework within which their co-operation would take place in the context of the Benghazi Declaration.
It was agreed that Zapu and Zanu would in the interim seek to achieve unity through joint action while they retained their separate identities.
Within that period, the Zanu and Zapu negotiators met at Mbeya in Tanzania with the intention of taking the whole process to a higher level.
The specifics of the Mbeya session were such that the implementing structures of the JMC had to be clearly drawn out. In a way, Zanu and Zapu did not want to lose control for the sole objective of operating as one entity.
It was suggested the chairman and deputy chairman of the JMC would be the political heads of the external missions of Zanu and Zapu respectively.
In that regard, Chitepo was selected to chair the JMC deputised by Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo. It was further asserted that in the interests of secrecy and security, the composition as well as personnel manning various designations of the JMC would be kept confidential.
However, in the same report, Zanu was quick to insist that the organs of the party such as the Dare, the Chimurenga General Council, the High Command, provinces and districts would remain intact. In addition, Chitepo’s minutes indicate that joint action would only begin after the necessary steps had been accomplished.
On the eighth point, it was stated: “Nor is it true that the coming into existence of Frolizi acted as a catalyst in the development of unity, quite contrary, Frolizi was an attempt by certain ambitious individuals to hijack the unity developments for their own ends.”
The JMC became one of the closest advances that Zanu and Zapu had ever made in trying to bring about an effectively representative voice for the people of Zimbabwe. Zapu’s internal problems came to pass and its operations resumed in full force. It was likely that Zapu had also learnt from the experiences gained in the 1967 Wankie and the Sipolilo campaign which followed later.
In 1973, Zapu embarked upon what was called Operation Xhoxhoza. The operation caught the Rhodesian Intelligence and military set-up sleeping. By the first half of 1973, it had disrupted the carriage of rail stock across the Victoria Falls Bridge into Rhodesia. Those who got involved in Xhoxhoza were largely Zapu force that had developed a combat as well as engineering sabotage capability.
The operation’s participants were John Dube whose original name was Sotsha Ngwenya, Tapson Sibanda who was known by the pseudonym Gordon Munyanyi, Report Mphoko, Roger Matshimini Ncube, Brigadier Abel Mazinyane and Maketo Ndebele.
Ndebele, also known as “Darkie”, became a top Zipra instructor and sharpshooter.
Operation Xhoxhoza seemed to change the confidence levels within Zipra. It also put to the test the command hierarchy in Zapu and led to the closure of the Rhodesia-Zambian border. By then, the likelihood of unity between Zapu and Zanu was no longer as topical as in the days of the JMC.
Operation Xhoxhoza came after a spell when the Zambian government had placed some restrictions on Zapu. Then, James Chikerema and Jason Moyo clashed over matters pertaining to how the party should conduct its business. The Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith reacted quickly and started to complain about the existence of what he termed “terrorist camps” in Zambia. He ordered the frontier with Zambia closed.
Meanwhile, Zapu, Zanu co-ordination remained an open failure.
In independent Zimbabwe, the 6th Congress of PF-Zapu was held from October 12 to 14 1984. At that occasion, the leadership read from a prepared report of the central committee. It was the last of such a gathering before PF-Zapu and Zanu signed the Unity Accord of December 1987.
The statement started off by reminding the participants of what one of Africa’s revolutionaries, Amilcar Cabral (a Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean agricultural engineer, writer, and nationalist thinker and political leader and also one of Africa’s foremost anti-colonial leaders), had mentioned concerning the rewriting of the struggle’s history.
Cabral, who died in 1972, was quoted as having said nationalists did not need to “tell any lies and claim no easy victories”. The report further emphasised: “If we are to use history as a weapon for our struggle, we must tell the truth fearlessly whatever the consequences. It must be said therefore, that the decision of certain elements to split the movement in 1963, played right into the hands of the colonial oppressors.”
The speech continued: “In this spirit, we would like to deny emphatically the current claim that the armed struggle began in 1966 at the battle in Chinhoyi. While we in no way wish to belittle the actions of our comrades who died in this battle, the true facts of the beginnings of the armed struggle must be placed on record”.
l To be continued next week.
Ntungakwa is the national projects advisor of the Revolutionary Research Institute, a project whose work is to document the forgotten as well as hidden contribution by PF Zapu and Zipra to Zimbabwe’s liberation and development.