Zanu PF yesterday abruptly aborted commemorations to mark the 14th anniversary of the death of Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in Bulawayo as officials rushed to Harare for a series of party meetings.
Report by Blondie Ndebele
The public lectures on the life of the late Vice-President started on Wednesday at Bulawayo Small City Hall and were supposed to continue with four presentations yesterday at Pelandaba Hall, Pumula South Hall, Nkulumane Hall and Luveve Beit hall.
The lectures were supposed to feature Zanu PF Bulawayo chairperson Callistus Ndlovu, veteran journalist and former freedom fighter Saul Ndlovu and historian Pathisa Nyathi.
According to the Zanu PF programme, today’s lecture, which was set to be delivered by Midlands governor Cephas Msipa was cancelled. The Zanu PF Joshua Nkomo commemorations committee chairperson Godfrey Malaba said they had cancelled the commemorations so they could attend a central committee meeting in Harare.
“Most of the people that were supposed to facilitate were also called,” he said. “We will rearrange the meeting with the guidance of the national leadership because we were doing it on behalf of the national leadership.”
Zanu PF’s national consultative assembly is meeting tomorrow ahead of the launch of the party’s election campaign and manifesto.
However, Nkomo’s son Sibangilwe said the family was not surprised by the sudden turn of events.
“They (Zanu PF) have dumped Nkomo,” Sibangilizwe said.
“It simply shows that Zanu PF is not taking Nkomo seriously. Now they have abandoned the lectures to bolster their party” he said.
Residents in Pelandaba, where Nkomo’s house is located, told Southern Eye that they were not informed of the cancellation.
Observers said Zanu PF had hoped to lure the electorate and regain popularity ahead of polls through association with the Nkomo brand.
Plans to honour Nkomo through the mounting of a life-size statue in Bulawayo along Main Street flopped due to lack of funding after an initial attempt was reversed as the Nkomo family complained over government’s unilateral decision.
Main Street, one of the major roads in Bulawayo, was also supposed to be renamed after Nkomo, but this is yet to be done.
Critics were yesterday quick to agree with Nkomo’s son that the abandonment of the weekend-long Zanu PF-organised commemorations indicated President Robert Mugabe’s party trivialised the late nationalist and his role in liberating this country from colonial Britain.
Others claimed Zanu PF had realised it was futile to try and garner any political mileage from the people of Matabeleland by continuing with the commemorations at a time the party faced an uncertain election.
Since 2000, the MDC formations have dominated all the three political provinces of Matabeleland, including the second-largest city, Bulawayo.