THIS Tuesday (July 1) marked the 15th anniversary of the passing on of revered vice-president and national hero Joshua Nkomo, a man whose legacy of national unity, reconciliation and socio-economic development his remaining colleagues from the liberation struggle and in government could do more to realise.
Candid Comment with Herbert Moyo
In the absence of formal celebrations, commemorations were left to family members and close associates who gathered in Bulawayo on Tuesday and kicked off proceedings with a four-kilometre walk from the Nkomo family’s Blue Lagoon business outlet near the Renkini Bus Terminus to the Joshua Nkomo statue unveiled last December by President Robert Mugabe.
“Let us help each other to uplift the legacy of Joshua Nkomo,” Eunice Sandi Moyo, the Minister of State for Bulawayo province reportedly said at the event.
“Those of us who worked with Joshua Nkomo … failed to make this man a hero. We failed, until his children saw it fit to honour their father. We thank you so much for doing this.”
Admittedly, there have been moves towards honouring Nkomo’s legacy through initiatives like the erection of his statue along Bulawayo’s renamed Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street as well as renaming Bulawayo airport as the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport.
The events were presided over by Mugabe on December 22 last year, incidentally the day on which the two signed the Unity Accord in 1987, ending six years of violence in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
Such was Nkomo’s commitment to reconciliation that he agreed to the deal which literally swallowed his PF-Zapu and gave Mugabe unfettered control of the united Zanu PF.
The only mention of Nkomo in that accord is in connection with his signing away the existence of Zapu which, preceded Zanu in the liberation struggle.
Mugabe is mentioned by name as the “First Secretary and President of Zanu PF” with the power to appoint the two Second Secretaries and Vice-Presidents of the party. All of this is a testament to Nkomo’s self-effacing nature which was first demonstrated by his refusal to become the first post-Independence president, preferring instead a much lower position of Home Affairs minister.
Nkomo deserves every honour he has received, but government should do more and implement concrete projects to bring to life his grand vision of socio-economic development.
The government could start in Bulawayo itself where despite his dream of high quality medical care, Ekusileni Hospital is still not complete.
Nkomo also started the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) along with Mugabe and the late vice-president Simon Muzenda and, ironically, DTZ’s efforts to develop various economic ventures in sugar and ethanol production in the arid Mwenezi region of Masvingo province are reportedly being frustrated by that province’s political leadership.
Nkomo’s statue may well be proudly watching over Bulawayo from the same road the imperialist Cecil John Rhodes reminded all of his conquest of this country in 1890.
but the best tribute would be to go beyond the praise-singing, erection of statues, to implementing projects in line with his vision of socio-economic development.