The Herald (Harare)

28 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Parties Hail Plans to Honour Tongogara

POLITICAL parties have given the thumbs up to the proposal to rename Zimbabwe National Army's KGVI Barracks after former Zanla Chief of Defence Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara. Zimbabwe

Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga made the proposal on Wednesday during the launch of the Josiah Magama Tongogara Legacy Foundation which coincided with the commemoration of the demise of the national hero.

During the commemoration, chairperson of Josiah Magama Tongogara Legacy Foundation Dr Simbi Mubako proposed that Boxing Day be renamed after the liberation struggle icon.

KGVI was conferred with that name in 1947 when King George made a royal visit to the then Salisbury, now Harare.

The proposal by Gen Chiwenga and Dr Mubako, a former diplomat and High Court judge, was received with thunderous applause.

In an interview yesterday, war veteran and former Zimbabwe ambassador to China, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said renaming KGVI after Cde Tongogara was befitting.

"It makes patriotic sense that the premier army barrack in the country be named after the most illustrious son. It also makes sense to name Llewellyn Barracks in Bulawayo after Cde Nikita Mangena," he said.

Cde Mutsvangwa said Cde Tongogara masterminded the most memorable battle at Mavonde in Mozambique in which the British imperial army suffered huge casualties.

He said the Rhodesian army, led by Peter Walls, had as a matter of habit waged wars during peace negotiations to create an impression that they were winning so that the British would not make concessions.

The Mavonde battle was fought during the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference and Cde Tongogara had trained an underground army to repel the Rhodesian army.

The Rhodesian army had engaged in that battle to humiliate Zanla forces and their leaders at the Lancaster House Conference.

"They had underestimated the military preparations of Cde Tongogara, so they attacked using both ground and air forces. It was a major military war and as a result, the British summoned Peter Walls to Lancaster with his tail between his legs and told him he would not win the war," said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.

It was interesting, said Ambassador Mutsvangwa, that the Mavonde battle was the only war that the Rhodesians did not issue war communiqué announcing how many enemy soldiers had been killed or weapons recovered because they lost it.

"No other African general has achieved that except Gen Tongo. The battle put paid the aura of invincibility of the British imperial army," he said.

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora concurred with the honour.

"Our position as MDC is that Tongogara is a true national hero and a person who must be respected in this country. We have absolutely no objection to naming buildings or institutions after him," he said.

Zanu (Ndonga) acting president Mr Gondai Vutuza said his party was not against the proposal.

"We support the idea. It is quite befitting. Our concern is that we need to honour other people as well like Cde Ndabaningi Sithole," he said.

The MDC could not be reached for comment.

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