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Mnangagwa wants hero’s status for Ndabaningi Sithole




Ndabaningi Sithole

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangwagwa has made a surprise admission late former Zanu founding leader and Second Chimurenga co-pioneer Ndabaningi Sithole deserves his due recognition as a national hero.

The one-time United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe cleric died in 2000 aged 80.

He was in 1975 dislodged as Zanu leader in place of Robert Mugabe, then party secretary general, who would later become Zimbabwe’s sole ruler for 37 uninterrupted years from independence.

As opposition Zanu-Ndonga leader, Sithole found little success in politics post-independence with his political base narrowing down to his native Chipinge enclave where he was MP from 1995 to 2000.

But a painful highlight of his long political career was the torment he suffered under Mugabe’s rule, at some point arrested and charged for attempts to assassinate his former ally.

Even in death, Mugabe failed to forgive his former comrade to a point of denying him national hero’s status, a decision which remains a Zanu-PF prerogative to date.

Fast forward to 2022, Mnangagwa has inadvertently admitted his former boss erred in denying his allies-turned-enemies the highest honour of the land.

Writing on his weekly column, in the Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa singled out Sithole as one of the liberation war luminaries who was erroneously denied their due honour.

“One man who looms large in the ranks of early leaders of our nationalist movement, but is not at our National Shrine is Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, the inaugural leader of Zimbabwe African National Union at its formation, after the 1963 split in the nationalist movement,” Mnangagwa wrote.

“Whatever his mistakes and missteps later in the struggle, he deserves mention and acknowledgement in national annals.”

Mnangagwa described Sithole as a “leading nationalist, scholar and firebrand in fact gave our Struggle its intellectual grounding and depth”.

“His seminal ‘African Nationalism’, published in 1959, just a few years before the end of the Federation and onset of UDI, crystallised African thoughts and ideas in the Struggle. For Zanu-PF, it became a key resource book, out of which we capsulized our thoughts into timeless slogans.

“Looking at leaders of our Nationalist Movement, culminating in the liberation struggle, we see a steady growth at every stage, with each generation playing its part and making huge sacrifices.

“We see more players than our National Shrine has been able to acknowledge or accommodate,” he said.

Mnangagwa said “Our appreciation of our past must thus be wider and complete, without being blindfolded by easy binaries of good and bad, heroes and villains”.

While Mnangagwa could indirectly be pinning some blame on his predecessor who was the final authority in determining national hero status on outstanding citizens, the incumbent’s own administration has also come under frequent criticism for failing to honour deserving heroes in the country.

Source – zimlive




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