By Ndatenda Njanike
FORMER Kenya Prime Minister, Raila Odinga will be the main speaker at the official launch of the Ndabaningi Sithole Foundation (NSF) set for next week.
The foundation is named after nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole who died in 2000 at the age of 80.
Sithole founded Zanu, a militant political organisation that opposed the then oppressive Rhodesian government, in July 1963.
The party is now known as Zanu Ndonga after its split with the now ruling Zanu PF in the 1970s.
The launch of the NSF has been set for 21 July, and according to the foundation chair, Retired Bishop Chad Gandiya, the event will also mark the late iconic politician’s 100th birthday.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event which was set to be a get-together in Harare will be now launched virtually and will be hosted through Facebook and Zoom.
Odinga will give the keynote address.
“Former Prime Minister of Kenya, His Excellency Ralia Odinga will give the keynote launch address,” Gandiya said.
“Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was personally acquainted with the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and his own ongoing role in peacebuilding.”
The launch will be held under the theme; ‘Zimbabwe’s Shared Legacy: A Foundation of Peace with Justice for Reconciliation and Unity’.
“The Ndabaningi Sithole Foundation – the Foundation or the NSF – will be launching on 21st July 2020. A day that marks what would have been the reverend Sithole’s 100th birthday,” Gandiya said.
“The launch which was originally planned to be a get-together here in Harare, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the launch will now be virtual.”
Reverend Sithole was also a prolific author who published 12 books in his lifetime and left a legacy as an advocate for civil rights, pan African democracy, and social-economic development in both pre- and post-independent Zimbabwe and Africa at large.
The foundation was established by the family, friends, and well-wishers to celebrate and honour the late reverend’s illustrious life.
He spent 10 years in prison after the then Rhodesia government banned Zanu. After independence, he was persecuted by the Robert Mugabe regime and was at one time arrested for treason.
Fearing for his life from political enemies, Sithole went into self-imposed exile first in the UK in the early 1980s and then in the US, returning to Zimbabwe in January 1992.
He was elected to Parliament in the stronghold of Chipinge and was a candidate in the 1996 presidential election – though he withdrew shortly before the election after claiming that Mugabe’s Zanu PF was undermining his campaign.
In December 1997, he was tried and convicted at the High Court of conspiring with the party’s youth militia Chimwenje to assassinate Mugabe and the government disqualified him from attending Parliament.
He was granted the right to appeal, but the case was never heard by the Supreme Court. Sithole was allowed bail due to deteriorating health.
However, Sithole’s Zanu again won the Chipinge seat in the June 2000 elections.
He died on 12 December 2000 in the US.