HomeLocalMohadi at centre of storm over Nkomo statues

Mohadi at centre of storm over Nkomo statues

A POLITICAL storm has erupted among Zanu PF’s top leadership which is accusing co-Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi of procuring the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s statues from North  Korea without consulting the Nkomo family or the presidium.

Authoritative sources said Zanu PF was sharply divided over the Nkomo statues with Vice- Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo at loggerheads with Mohadi following his handling of the matter.

The two North Korean-made statues, for Bulawayo and Harare, were meant to honour the late “Father Zimbabwe –– as he was affectionately known –– but offended the people of Matabeleland  who have never forgiven President Robert Mugabe for the massacre of an estimated 20 000 people in that region in the 1980s by the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade.

The Bulawayo statue was removed on September 15 after it was erected in August and analysts warned that the North Korean links opened wounds of the bloody clashes between Mugabe and Nkomo.

Nkomo died at 82 in 1999 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.
The late Nkomo’s daughter, Thandiwe, met Nkomo and Mujuru on August 19 to express displeasure over Mohadi’s failure to consult the family, according to a source.

The meetings took place at the vice-presidents’ Munhumutapa offices when Mugabe was attending a Comesa meeting in Swaziland. Mujuru, who chairs the cabinet committee on awards and honours, the source said, was upset after learning that Mohadi did not consider the family’s views on the statues.
“Vice-presidents John Nkomo and Mujuru are angry with Mohadi because of the way he dealt with the statues,” said the source. “They believe Mohadi’s decision to buy the statues from North Korea was meant to provoke Ndebeles.

“The presidium is bitter why Mohadi unveiled the statue in Bulawayo. The Zanu PF leaders think Mohadi wanted to test public reaction and Nkomo is not taking it lightly. It’s like everyone now in Zanu PF is baying for Mohadi’s blood.”

Nkomo and Mujuru told Mohadi, who later joined the meeting, that the Bulawayo statue should be removed immediately,  sources said.
National Museums and Monuments director Godfrey Mahachi confirmed that Mohadi ordered two statues from North Korea.

“The minister, working together with my department, commissioned two statues from North Korea. It is the minister who gave all the instructions,” he said.

The Mohadi and Nkomo rivalry then escalated after the co-Home Affairs minister took a month to remove the statue. Sources say Mohadi, who also wanted the vice-president’s post last year, was defiant because he believes Nkomo did not deserve the top office as he remained in government after former PF-Zapu ministers were fired by Mugabe in the early 1980s.

Mohadi told the state media last month that the government paid US$600 000 to the North Koreans for the two, three-metre-high statues. After it was removed from the city centre where former colonial master Cecil John Rhodes’ statue used to stand, the Nkomo statue is now being kept at the Bulawayo Natural History Museum.

A source said the presidium was angry with Mohadi because he erected the statue in Bulawayo city centre instead of the agreed Joshua Nkomo International Airport.

“The Zanu presidium, just like the family, was gravely concerned over the  size of the statue,” said the source. “That statue was pitiful.”
There was also a furore over the Nkomo statue in Harare where the government wanted to erect it at Karigamombe Centre.

Mohadi declined to comment yesterday saying he was busy organising the late Zanu PF politburo member Ephraim Masawi’s burial at the national heroes’ acre.

“Leave me alone, just give me time please. I am busy, I am in the middle of a programme,” he said.
Thandiwe Nkomo said the family no longer wanted to comment on the statues.

 

Brian Chitemba

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