ZIPRA founding member Luke Mhlanga was buried on Friday at Lady Stanley in Bulawayo.
Mhlanga died last Monday in Bulawayo after a short illness. The late liberation war veteran was trained in China in 1965 and then returned to Zambia where he was instrumental in the formation of Zipra.
Mhlanga was Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa’s deputy in the department known as special affairs, which was responsible for finding crossing points for Zipra forces along the Zambezi. In 1966, he was in charge of the Luthuli detachment which was made up of 100 highly trained personnel.
This detachment was a combined force of uMkhonto Wesizwe, the armed wing of South Africa’s ANC and Zipra.
Mhlanga worked in the reconnaissance team, which identified the crossing point for the detachment in 1966 with one Modise of uMkhonto Wesizwe and the then Zipra commander Ackim Ndlovu.
“We are burying Mhlanga, a national hero who fought hard for this country,” Dabengwa said.
“UMkhonto Wesizwe in South Africa wanted him to travel there so he receives treatment there, but his condition had deteriorated that he could not travel.”
Zipra Trust official, Marshal Mpofu, said he did not understand why people like Mhlanga did not get the recognition they deserved.
“In 2010, uMkonto Wesizwe invited former Zipra commanders to South Africa to compile their history,” he said.
“Other countries recognise people like Mhlanga, so I am urging former Zipra members to show respect especially to their seniors.”
An official from the national and strategic studies department at the United College of Education, Andrew Sibanda, said they were working to ensure Zipra and Zapu were acknowledged in the country’s history.
“We were in the process of correcting the history of Zipra, unfortunately politicians hijacked the plan,” he said. “Mhlanga was a resourceful person who participated in the struggle. If you are not in the ruling party, you are not listened to hence their history is one-sided.”
Mhlanga was born in 1928 and is survived by his wife, Evelyn, six children and 12 grandchildren.