Zimbabwe: Nkomo's Death Revives Unity Accord Debate

AS thousands of people prepare to throng the National Heroes' Acre for the burial of Vice-President John Landa Nkomo tomorrow, the death of the former nationalist is likely to stir fresh debate on the relevance of the Unity Accord, analysts have said.

They said as President Robert Mugabe continues to lose trusted allies in Matabeleland, the relevance of the Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu would soon come under scrutiny, again.

With the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu having pulled out of Zanu PF five years ago, questions linger whether the accord that ended mass killings in Matabeleland and Midlands was still relevant 26 years later.

On the other hand, Nkomo's death is also likely to re-ignite an acrimonious succession battle that characterised his own ascension to the vice-presidency.

Nkomo took over from Joseph Msika who died in 2009. Msika himself had succeeded nationalist and founding Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo who signed the Unity Accord with Mugabe in 1987.

But it is the power dynamics in Zanu PF and Matabeleland, where Nkomo's death is most likely to be felt.

Despite Nkomo having not contested an election since 1995, he was viewed as a senior leader, whose voice would carry the day.

Over the years, Nkomo's stature had somewhat diminished in Matabeleland, although he remained important because of his status as Vice-President.

While most of the focus shall be on who shall succeed Nkomo, it is the jostling for the Zanu PF chairmanship's post that is likely to hog all the attention.

Present chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo is the front runner to succeed Nkomo, but it is unclear who is likely to take up his post in the likely event that he becomes vice-president with the likes of Home Affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi considered as a dark horse.

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu is also said to be a contender.

A service was held yesterday at the late Nkomo's Milton Park home before the body was flown to Tsholotsho.

Meanwhile, South African leader, Jacob Zuma has joined Zimbabweans in mourning Vice-President John Landa Nkomo who died at St Anne's Hospital on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

Zuma extended his deepest condolences to the Nkomo family as well as to the government and the people of Zimbabwe on the passing on of Nkomo.

"Our thoughts go out to the entire Nkomo family and the people of Zimbabwe," he said in a statement.

Nkomo started his political career with South Africa's African National Congress (ANC).

He was then deployed to the National Democratic Party (NDP), which was later banned and was reborn as Zapu.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life and across the political divide yesterday also continued to mourn Nkomo.

Several MDC-T ministers attended the service where they paid tribute to the late Nkomo.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara described Nkomo as a unifier who worked for the betterment of the country.

"From his time as a trade union leader to being a minister and a Vice-President, Nkomo was a unifier par excellence, a true son-of-the-soil and he worked hard throughout his life to ensure that peace and reconciliation prevailed," he said.

Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn leader, Simba Makoni said the nation had been robbed of a mature, true national leader, with unwavering dedication to the country.

"Nkomo was a unifier and pacifier. He was a humble, kind and loving leader to all the people of Zimbabwe," he said. "He was tireless in his quest for national cohesion. He belonged to all Zimbabwe, not one political party, not one area or province, not one social class."

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general, Japhet Moyo said Nkomo was a "rare breed" of a politician who could mix with different people at different levels without any problem.

"He was a good listener, down-to-earth politician who worked immensely to uplift the lives of many Zimbabweans," he said.

Moyo said ZCTU remembered him well during his time as Labour minister between 1988 and 1995 where he presided over some notable amendments to the Labour Relations Act.

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