PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Wednesday all but declared Enos Nkala a national hero, drawing the ire of pressure groups, who have expressed outrage at the honour.
Nduduzo Tshuma, Staff Reporter
Mugabe told journalists that he was sure that Nkala would be declared a hero, adding that if the Zanu PF founding member was not buried at the Heroes’ Acre, then no one deserved to be buried there.
Nkala, fingered as having played a leading role in the Gukurahundi mass killings that targeted PF Zapu supporters and claimed an estimated 20 000 people, died at a Harare hospital on Wednesday from kidney and heart complications.
Mthwakazi Youth Leaders’ Joint Resolution spokesperson Mqondisi Moyo said Nkala was being rewarded for taking an active role in the “butchering” of the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands during Gukurahundi.
“As a region, we did not lose anything in Nkala’s death,” he said.
“He said he would send ants with red heads to Matabeleland and he sent the North Korea- trained 5 Brigade to butcher the people of Matabeleland.
“It is sad that Nkala said he did not want to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre because it is linked to the North Koreans, yet that country is the one that trained the 5 Brigade that butchered the people.
“He (Nkala) is a Zanu PF hero because he assisted them kill the people from Matabeleland. He is not our hero.”
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said Mugabe was bound to heap Nkala with praises since Zanu was formed in the former minister’s house.
“But we cannot ignore the period between 1983 and 1986, when Nkala held various Cabinet posts. In 1984, he deliberately denied the people of Matabeleland food (aid),” he said.
Nkomo reiterated Moyo’s statement that Nkala lived true to his threat of sending the 5 Brigade to Matabeleland and the Midlands.
“True heroes like Thenjiwe Lesabe, Gibson Sibanda and many others were denied hero status, but the shrine has become a discredited monument,” he said.
“It is no longer a national monument, but a Zanu PF monument.”
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo said: “For us it is important to define what a hero is. What did Nkala do for Mugabe to say he is a hero?
“We understand what Mugabe means. He is where he is because of Nkala. Nkala dealt with Mugabe’s political opponents,” he said.
“Mugabe is not rewarding Nkala for what he did for the people of Matabeleland, but what he did to them.”
Mugabe was quoted describing Nkala as “a great fighter for our liberation. Very, very staunch fighter, unyielding, dependable, and a good fighter. Well, perhaps at his age, born in the 1930s, his body was bound to give in.”
Ironically, Nkala said he did not want to be buried at the Heroes’ Acre, saying he did not like it.
Meanwhile, Nkala’s family said they were making alternative burial arrangements while waiting for the government to make a decision on his hero status.
“At this stage, we are still waiting to hear from the government because obviously he is a national hero and they are considering conferring him with that status,” Herbert Nkala, the family’s spokesperson said.
“We are, however, also making alternative arrangements to have him laid at an appropriate place depending on what statement we will get from the government.”
Herbert said the family was not expecting to get a final decision today (yesterday) as attention was on Mugabe’s inauguration.