By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE late director of Mafela Trust, Zephaniah Nkomo (70) has become the latest senior ex-ZIPRA freedom fighter to be denied national hero status by the ruling Zanu PF government.
Nkomo died last Sunday evening at a private hospital in Bulawayo.
However, the decision by the government not to accord the struggle stalwart, a national hero status has left the Zapu leadership seething with anger.
Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa described the late Nkomo as one of the finest soldiers who participated in the armed struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence.
“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the untimely departure of one of the people’s finest soldiers from the liberation struggle. Comrade Zephaniah was a Russian trained intelligence officer of the National Security and Order (NSO), who offered distinguished service to ZAPU and ZIPRA during the liberation struggle,” Maphosa told NewZimbabwe.com.
“Like the rest of ZIPRA fighters, his immense contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe was never acknowledged or recognised by the powers that took over after the war. He was an unquestionable hero of the liberation struggle.”
The Zapu spokesperson said Nkomo was a humble man who never went about boasting about his contribution to the armed liberation struggle.
“His closeness to and trust bestowed upon him by the late Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa spoke volumes about how highly regarded he was in the intelligence circles of the ZIPRA’s NSO. His selection to head Mafela Trust, whose role is to document ZAPU and ZIPRA history gave further evidence of the trust ZAPU had in him,” he said.
Maphosa added that Nkomo declined to be drafted into Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) when Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980.
“He would later be punished for the snub when he was falsely accused of trying to assassinate (the now late President Robert) Mugabe and served four years of detention without trial in Zimbabwe’s notorious prisons.
“He was tortured but upon release, there was no reason given for his incarceration or apology for the wrongful arrest and the terrible treatment he received.
“It is unfortunate Comrade Zephaniah died just when ZIPRA was just about to breakthrough in lobbying to have its veterans who have been denied their rightful pensions and other benefits for the selfless contributions made towards the liberation of Zimbabwe, get their benefits. His deep knowledge would have benefitted us in the pending exercise,” added Maphosa.