LATE Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai and other members of the party’s Dare ReChimurenga (Revolutionary Council) were instrumental in ensuring the ascendency of President Robert Mugabe to the party leadership, an official has said.
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Kangai collapsed and died at his Glen Forest home last month and was subsequently declared a national hero.
Speaking at his memorial service in Harare yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said although the revolutionary council members were in detention in Zambia following the death of party chairman, Hebert Chitepo in 1975, they continued playing a part in the execution of the liberation struggle.
The Revolutionary Council members among them Kangai, Gumbo and the late Zanla chief of defence Josiah Magama Tongogara, were imprisoned by the Zambian authorities for several months on suspicion of involvement in the death of Chitepo in a car bomb. But they were eventually cleared by the courts, with Zanu PF blaming Rhodesian agents for the crime.
Gumbo said when Ndabaningi Sithole was deposed as leader of Zanu, the incarcerated revolutionary council members among them Kangai and himself wrote letters to the party structures to recognise Mugabe as the new legitimate leader.
“Kangai played a major contribution to the turnaround of the armed struggle. He was a great mobiliser and organiser. That was the basis of the revolution,” he said.
Gumbo said he has been friends with Kangai since 1960, when the two met at Zimuto Secondary School in Masvingo where the late revolutionary was a teacher and he a student. They rejoined in the United States as students in the late 1960s and moved to Zambia in 1973, where they were elected members of the second revolutionary council.
Gumbo said before Kangai died, Miriam, his wife, was very supportive and helped him financially after leaving government. She used to meet Kangai’s medical bills using proceeds from her business of selling Chinese herbal medicines and supplements.
He said Kangai had confided in him just before his death that he wanted all his 12 children to get an equal share of his “small” estate as inheritance.
Gumbo was hopeful that the Kangai family would not fight over Kangai’s estate and distribute it amicably.
“I will be hurt if there are fights and divisions over the distribution of the estate,” he said.