President Robert Mugabe yesterday revealed that the late former Defence minister Enos Nkala was itching to have a go at the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo when cracks emerged within the nationalist movement that led to the Zapu split.
Nqobile Bhebhe, Chief Reporter
Mugabe said Nkala, who died last week aged 81, offered to deal with Nkomo since they were both from Matabeleland.
“Enos Nkala in 1963 said ‘leave Joshua Nkomo to me. He is Ndebele and I am Ndebele’,” the President told mourners at Nkala’s burial at the Heroes’ Acre. Zanu was formed at the Zapu split of 1963, with Nkala playing a leading role in the creation of the party, which was formed in his house in Highfield, Harare.
Officially, the Zapu split was attributed to ideological differences, but recent revelations show that there was bad blood between Nkomo and Nkala.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa last week revealed that Nkala was spurred to push for the formation of Zanu after personal differences with Nkomo.
“He was the mastermind in forming Zanu mainly because of his personal dislike of Nkomo. It was because of a domestic matter. Up to now I don’t know what exactly it was,” he said.
“There was a domestic issue that didn’t have anything to do with the party.”
Nkala was later to be blamed for spearheading the Gukurahundi killings, which claimed more than 20 000 lives in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces and Nkomo was driven out of the country.
In his graveside eulogy, Mugabe said in 1963 there was virtually no functioning political party, although the nationalists identified themselves as Zapu.
He said as cracks emerged, Nkala offered to take charge of the situation.
“Cracks surfaced once again and the nationalists fought each other primarily due to differences in opinion,” he said.
“Nkala offered to handle the situation.”
Nkala, Mugabe said, repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with Nkomo, whom he described as a weak leader.
Mugabe said Zapu leaders and Zanu founders differed on the approach on how to deal with the colonial regime, with Nkomo preferring to form a government in exile, while Zanu wanted an armed struggle.
The President chose to skirt the controversial issues of Nkala’s life, which included his role in the Gukurahundi massacres and the Willowgate scandal that brought the nationalist’s political career to an end. Instead, he glorified Nkala’s role in the 1960s and 1970s before skipping the following decades and speaking about him towards his death.
On Nkala’s personal life, Mugabe revealed how the late Defence minister had left his first wife on accusations of infidelity.
“Incarceration reaped havoc on many families,” he said of the time Nkala spent behind bars.
“Marriages broke down. His (Nkala’s) first marriage broke down, but he loved his kids, Thandi and another, the two girls. He was always talking about them.
“He told me about the sad story of the unfaithfulness on the part of his wife.”
Nkala died last week at a private clinic in Harare.