HomeLocalNew twist in Joshua Nkomo statue saga

New twist in Joshua Nkomo statue saga

Government was forced to pull down the statue a few days after it was erected along Bulawayo’s Main Street following complaints from the nationalist’s family.


The latest threat comes amid indications that government wants to erect the effigy at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, whose construction is almost complete.


But the Zipra Veterans Trust (ZVT) last week vowed to block the move saying erection of the statue without returning his properties seized by government in the 1980s was the highest form of hypocrisy by President Robert Mugabe.


The official said if government genuinely wanted to honour Nkomo it must return his properties and those of Zapu.


“Mugabe and his cronies just want to get political mileage in Matabeleland,” said one ZVT official.


“We cannot allow the erection of that statue without government returning his properties, some of which have been taken over by senior Zanu PF officials.”

On April 1 2011, the Joshua Nkomo Foundation had a meeting with members of the ZVT, where the issue of the statue was raised.


Sources said there were some disagreements with some saying if former Zipra commanders block the erection of the statue, Nkomo might never be recognised again.

The former Zipra members insisted that it was better if Nkomo was not honoured than for his name to be used as a “pedestal” for Mugabe and Zanu PF’s political mileage.


The meeting was attended by chairman of the Foundation Francis Nhema, Nkomo’s daughter Thandiwe, former Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and ZVT officials.


Nhema last week confirmed the meeting but refused to give details.


“We wait for guidance from government because he (Nkomo) was de-clared a national hero, as a result of that the matter ceases to be our issue but a government matter,” said Nhema, who referred further questions to the Ministry of Home Affairs.


Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, who has been dealing with the matter, said he could not comment as he was attending a meeting. Chairman of Zipra’s finance and projects committee Frederick Mu-tanda confirmed ZVT’s position.


“Yes, Zipra’s position is that government has to return the properties first before they erect the statue,” said Mutanda.


Former Zipra commanders recently met with Air Force commander Perence Shiri complaining about marginalisation despite the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.

They also raised the issues of the seized Zapu properties.


They wanted Shiri, who they view as more accommodative, to present their case to Mugabe and other security commanders.

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