By NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZAPU believes government has not honoured its late leader and father Zimbabwe, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, by failing todeclare the day he passed away a national holiday.
Nkomo, who was born on June 7, 1917, died on July 1, 1999 at the age of 82, would have turned 102 today. He was Vice-President at the time of his death.
Zapu has, for years, been calling on government to declare July 1 a national holiday, but the calls have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, government has, for example, named the Bulawayo airport after Nkomo.
Government has also mounted a stature in his honour in Bulawayo and named a street after him.
According to Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa, this was not enough.
“Nkomo has not been honoured enough, especially by the State. We have been calling on the government to, at the very least, declare July 1 a holiday in his honour, but our calls have fallen on deaf ears,” Maphosa said in an interview.
“We have also called on them to immortalise his legacy and memories countrywide, but they have ignored those calls.”
“Instead, Nkomo has also become a victim of the toxic and tribal politics that has become the norm in this country. Just like the latest reference is calling of a stay away by a group of anarchists in Harare on the day we commemorate the late president of Zapu,” he said.
“This is nothing, but outright tribalism and is informed by the toxic nature of our society. To them, Nkomo doesn’t matter, despite him having been a fighter and advocate for a non-tribal society premised on equality and respect for peoples and human rights.”
Meanwhile, an annual eMshasheni pilgrimage near the Njelele shrine in Matobo, Matabeleland South, will be held on July 7 “in memory of the late leader who deeply respected all cultures and traditions in their diversity”.
Nkomo never had it easy post-independence and was forced to flee the country fearing for his life, with then Prime Minister and former President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of plotting to topple his government.
Mugabe claimed arms meant to overthrow his government had been uncovered on farms owned by the Nkomo-led Zapu and its military wing, Zipra, culminating in the Gukurahundi massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. NewsDay