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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Thursday, July 28, 2011



By Kudakwashe KANHUTU

The plan had been hatched by a very far sighted person. As the struggle for liberation intensified there was an urgent need for able bodied men to join the fight. This led to acceptance of hardened criminals and those who habitually traversed the borders of sanity, into the fighting ranks of ZANLA. The exigencies of recruiting for a war already underway did not allow the set up of a Criminal Records Bureau, to painstakingly vet all cadres joining the struggle. However, one commander in the Dare reChimurenga (the War Council for ZANLA), had anticipated this problem with extra-ordinary foresight and countered it with equal cunning.

For the uninitiated I am taking you back to the colonial period in the Southern African country formerly called Rhodesia, specifically between 1972 and 1980. This is the time when the black nationalists’ demand for a release from the yoke of white minority oppression reached its apex. The main form of the demand was an armed struggle called Chimurenga II, which saw black people leave their country for training in neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia then return to talk to the white oppressor in terms which were unequivocal. The two main fighting groups were ZANLA, which was dominated by the Shona tribe, and ZIPRA which was smaller owing to it being composed of the minority Ndebele tribe. We were fighting a war of liberating the whole black population from the indignity of being disenfranchised in our own land by foreigners. The leader of the white minority was that rabid racist, Ian Smith.

I insist that the greatest compliment I ever received as a combatant in this war came from our sworn enemy, Ian Smith, in briefing his regular JOC meetings, he is said to have uttered that “Mabhunu’s fighting force shortens our projection for a thousand year rule”. I had adopted the nom de guerre Mabhunu Muchaendepi and the grudging respect of my enemy was not so much a source of pride, but confirmation that our methods were effective.

I must say I was initially averse to what I perceived as a waste of scarce resources when I was informed I would be part of a unit, charged with terminating comrades on the battlefield who were compromising the war by being cruel to the black population we were fighting to free. It was a terrible anti climax, hearing that my engagement with the white enemy would only be coincidental. I found it hard to believe I had shared caves with pythons, walked barefoot across game parks in the middle of the night to reach Mozambique, tottering, on legs swollen to twice their size, to fight, not the enemy; but my own fellow combatants.

It felt like a betrayal of the spirit of Liberation, a betrayal of the nation of Zimbabwe, but any qualms I had were laid to complete rest once we began our training. Basic training was administered to all who arrived at Chimoio, this involved political education, weapons and physical training. Our commanders then assigned us to different fields we would man, based on their assessment and judgement of our abilities, an essential division of labour for any effective fighting force.

It was in training I came into contact for the first time with the criminals who were to be my comrades in liberating Zimbabwe. I remember the vacant look in the eyes of some of these cadres, the inordinate eagerness to get weapons and return to the theatre of war. If I were to say today that I knew instinctively that these people were sadistic, any decent magistrate would throw me in jail owing to the paradigm shift since, but in a time of war, this instinct was indispensable and invaluable an attribute.

Vindication for that instinct would come of course from a reading of the brutal massacre of black civilians between Chipinge and Wedza which took place in such a short time after our pass out from Chimoio. It evoked despondency to watch on the news while we were at advanced training in Libya, the hacked off legs, burnt corpses, pregnant women stabbed by bayonets lying lifeless in row after row, murdered by their supposed liberators.

Ian Smith’s government of course to win the battle of hearts and minds allowed reporters from all over the world to have a field day when such massacres occurred. Extreme double standards because when the Rhodesian Army, frustrated by how cunning the genuine liberators were, massacred civilians in the hundreds, reporters would be banned from these areas. I would also venture that the reason Ian Smith began to doubt his government’s resolution for a thousand year white domination of the majority blacks was – has to be – the existence of a unit in ZANLA charged with protecting civilians from wayward liberators. Was this not a clear example of the advanced political acumen he was telling the world blacks inherently lack? Furthermore the atrocities visited on civilians by Smith’s army went unpunished even when it was so obvious and undeniable.

To be able to shed light on why my autopsy is being written in this sort of ink, let me posit that my death is imminent as I have chosen to let out the most closely guarded secret of Chimurenga II. The secret is that the black liberation fighters lost the war; we lost the war the day when Comrade Josiah Magama Tongogara died. The Kaguvi Sector, my unit in the armed struggle and a brain child of Comrade Tongogara, evolved to become an army within an army, fighting a war within a war. The Sector developed its own ethos which bordered on a preference to actually lose the war than gain leverage by terrorising civilians. Unfortunately this sentiment was not shared across the board, even in Dare reChimurenga Comrade Tongogara was an isolated figure as the other members were proponents of the scorched earth policy. It is a fact that some people in high positions of government today actually instructed the other guerrillas to be ruthless against the black population, summary executions were endorsed, cruel and unusual punishments shamelessly promoted, an all is fair in war doctrine.

Of the Kaguvi Sector numbering 85 at the end of the armed struggle, I am the only one left. 30 of my comrades were detained in Chimoio during the Lancaster House talks and were massacred on the same day that Comrade Tongogara died in a bizarre accident. 20 more comrades did not make it alive from Dzapasi Assembly Point. Over the years the other 34 remaining combatants of the Kaguvi Sector have met ignominious ends over the course of their lives in independent Zimbabwe, in very suspicious circumstances, so it is left to me to honour the memory of the foremost liberation unit by letting the truth be known instead of the myth that has been perpetuated that we won the war of liberation.

Do not waste your pity on me, better people have already died; Comrades Mandebvu, Elliot Hondo, Comrade Mabhunu Muchapera, Hokoyo, Zvaipa, Tafataona, Dragon, Tichafa… 


 author/source:Zimbabwe Standard
published:Sun 30-Sep-2001
posted on this site:Mon 1-Oct-2001

Article Type : News

Josiah Tongogara, Rugare Gumbo, Henry Hamadziripi, Kumbirai Kangai, Mukudzei Mudzi named in 1975 report into Chitepo's murder

Staff Writer

Top Zanu commanders from the Dare Rechimurenga and the Zanla High Command killed former Zanu chairman, Herbert Chitepo, in Zambia in 1975, a special report by a Zambian commission into the late leader's mysterious death reveals. This is the first time that the report has been made public since the lawyer-cum-politician's assasination 26 years ago. Chitepo died when a car bomb planted under the driver's seat in his VW Beetle detonated as he was trying to reverse the car from the garage at his Zambian house. The Standard this week reveals for the first time the contents of the report. The report puts paid to claims from within Mr Mugabe's party that Chitepo had been killed by agents of the Ian Smith regime. The late chairman's widow, Victoria Chitepo, is on record as saying it was common knowledge that the leader was killed by fellow party members.

The Report of the Special International Commission on the Assassination of Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, which was commissioned by former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, in Lusaka, 1976, cites the late Zanla commander, Josiah Tongogara; current deputy minister of home affairs, Rugare Gumbo, who was secretary for information and publicity; Henry Hamadziripi, secretary for finance; Kumbirai Kangai, secretary for public and social welfare; and Mukudzei Mudzi, secretary for administration as the people responsible for assassinating the Dare chairman, Chitepo.

The report said the late chairman was a victim of a tribal power struggle within the party. Said the report, in the possession of The Standard: "The members of Dare and the High Command decided on March 1975 to kill Chitepo for reasons already stated. On that day, Dauramanzi and Mpunzarima were sent to collect a bomb from Rex Nhongo. They returned on Monday 17 March when Chimurenga handed the bomb to Sadat Kufamazuba for safe keeping until midnight when Chimurenga, Rudo, Short and Sadat planted the bomb on the driver's seat of Chitepo's car. The four men were acting under the directions of Tongogara. On the same night, Tongogara sent Robson Manyika to Chitepo's house to go and check whether Chimurenga, Rudo and Short had carried out the mission. Manyika said he did all this and reported back to Tongogara. This account is consistent with the corroborative evidence of the members of Dare and the High Command before the Commission and with their demeanour when they appeared before us."

The report continues: "The members of Dare and the High Command could all therefore be indicated as principals to the murder of Chitepo because jointly and severally they actively desired to bring this about and did in fact bring it about. Although only one individual may have completed the final act to consummate the crime and though some may not have been present as in the case of Hamadziripi and Chigowe, who claim to have been in Malawi at the material time, they could all be charged for Chitepo's murder."

The report says members of the High Command who gave evidence admitted that on hearing rumours some of them were to be arrested, scattered and ran away from Zambia instead of being eager to assist Zambian Police. "So the whole evidence both circumstantial, as well as direct with regard to the Chitepo assassination, points inevitably and clearly to his colleagues in the Dare and the High Command, especially Tongogara, Chigowe, Mudzi, Gumbo, Kangai and Hamadziripi," says the report.

The commission was chaired by Reuben Chitandika Kamanga and Mathias Mainza Chona, both Zambians, representatives of African countries from Botswana, Congo, Ivory Coast, Libya, Malagasy, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania and Zaire. Its terms of reference was to inquire into the events and circumstances leading to death of Chitepo on 18 March 1975. It was to investigate and establish "whether any racists or imperialists agents, or any racists or counter-revolutionaries or saboteurs were directly responsible for the said death." It was to investigate and establish the identity and the motive of the person or persons responsible for the said death. The commission was tasked to: "Make recommendations with regard to the measures or any additional measures that ought to be taken for the security of persons engaged in any political activities aimed at the attainment of freedom and independence of the people of Zimbabwe and any other country in Africa still under colonial or minority rule."

Said Kaunda on Zambian national radio on 31 March 1975: "We are shocked. We are still grieved and angered. We remain bitter against the murderous act, bitter against the murderers - the enemies of Zambia and Africa. Many Zambians are, to say the least, very dismayed and justifiably irritated by statements made by some Zimbabwe nationals, some, even nationalist leaders, have shown no concern whatsoever for the assassination of Mr Chitepo. To them, Mr Chitepo has been assassinated and that must be the end. Instead of calling upon the party and government to track down the killers of this gallant fighter, they are either completely silent, while others virtually demand that we stop the investigation altogether and thereby shelter the assassins."

Twenty-fours years later, Kaunda was still bitter as he told The Standard in 1999 when he came to visit the grave of the late vice president, Joshua Nkomo: "Chitepo was a committed leader. And some day we will talk about how he died. It is one blot in the history, a sad reflection of the whole liberation of this region. Some of the Zanla leadership left Zambia soon after the burial. I didn't expect them to leave immediately...this was their death. It was our death too, and it required all of us to work together on it," said Kaunda.

At the Review Conference of September 1973, the following were elected to the Dare: Herbert Chitepo - chairman (Manyika); Mukudzei Mudzi - administrative secretary (Karanga); Noel Mukono - secretary for external affairs (Manyika); Kumbirai Kangai - secretary for labour, social services and welfare (Karanga); Rugare Gumbo - secretary for information and publicity (Karanga); John Mataure -political commissar (Manyika); Henry Hamadziripi - secretary for finance (Karanga); Josiah Tongogara - chief of defence (Karanga). Apart from being an astute politician, Chitepo made history by becoming the first black advocate in southern Africa.

EXCLUSIVE - The Standard will, from next week, serialise the Report of the Special International Commission on the Assassination of Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo which was commissioned by former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda. The report is the most authoritative account into events surrounding the cold-blooded murder of the former nationalist leader. Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka, said yesterday that not a single sentence of the entire report will be edited out.