SENIOR Zanu PF officials were conspicuous by their absence at a memorial service for the late former Defence minister Enos Nkala at the Trade Fair Grounds in Bulawayo yesterday.
REPORT BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
The only notable attendées were Mines minister Obert Mpofu, Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema and Small-to-Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
However, Zanu PF provincial chairperson Callistus Ndlovu said not much should be read into the absenteeism, as Bulawayo structures had endorsed Nkala’s status.
“People were not properly informed about the service,” he said, adding that he was not in Bulawayo.
“It is us who recommended that Nkala be declared a national hero and I signed the letter. Do not read too much into that.”
Ndlovu said the absence of senior officials did not reflect anything.
Nkala’s hero status has reportedly divided Zanu PF structures in Matabeleland and Bulawayo, with some accusing the Zanu founding member of being at the forefront of the Gukurahundi genocide, which saw the deaths of an estimated 20 000 people in the region.
Ndlovu said despite the absence of senior leaders from the region, the province had organised buses for people intending to travel for Nkala’s burial at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare today.
Speaking at the memorial service, Mpofu claimed unnamed unscrupulous individuals were peddling lies about Nkala for political gains.
“A lot of lies are said about Nkala which is not good. Some people made money by peddling lies about Nkala,” he said at the memorial service organised by Harvest House International, a church the late minister belonged to.
Interestingly, it was Mpofu who exposed the Willowvale car scandal that ended Nkala’s political career, sinking him into near oblivion.
Nkala resigned from Zanu PF after he was embroiled in the Willowgate scandal in 1988, where senior government officials resold cars bought at concessionary rates from Willowvale Motor Industries.
Mpofu revealed that he joined Zanu PF at the recommendation of Nkala, saying the late nationalist was a brave man who formed Zanu after defecting from Zapu and was not a tribalist.
He said Nkala was not prone to gossip “unlike other leaders who spend their time gossiping”.
Mpofu said the history of Zimbabwe would be incomplete without the mention of Nkala.
“As Zanu PF, we have lost a great man, one of the pioneers of the liberation struggle. Nkala wanted independence by force,” he said. “So if Nkala is not a hero, then who should be buried there? The Heroes’ Acre would rather be destroyed.”
Mpofu was one of the first people to defect from PF Zapu to Zanu PF after independence.
A pastor at Harvest House described Nkala as an inspirational and forgiving person, adding that Nkala had one fault, “he loved nice things”.
Nkala, who died last week, will be buried at the Heroes’ Acre today. Despite his protestations of innocence, many blame Nkala for the Gukurahundi killings.
This week, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa revealed how Nkala had tried to blackmail him into accepting a Zanu PF card, saying failure to do so would see the former Zipra intelligence commander rotting in prison.