3 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Nkomo Was Hurt By Gukurahundi'

Bulawayo — The late Vice-President, John Nkomo, was deeply hurt and angered by the Gukurahundi massacres that left thousands of people dead in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, his young brother has disclosed.

Sam Nkomo (71) told The Standard what hurt the late Vice President most was that he was "powerless" to stop the massacre, which also affected his rural home, Tsholotsho.

Nkomo, who died last month, was a deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and later a Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office during Gukurahundi.

"He (The late VP) was deeply affected by the Gukurahundi massacres," said Sam. "He could not hide his anger and hurt about the massacres."

He added: "He could not hide that what angered him more was that he could not stop the Gukurahundi that affected Matabeleland, especially in view of the fact that he comes from the region."

An estimated 20 000 innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces were massacred in cold blood by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in an operation that President Robert Mugabe claimed was an assault on dissidents.

The operation started in 1982 and was only halted five years later after the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 by President Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.

Sam said Nkomo was a man of few words who also never used to like talking about his political life and Zimbabwean politics with family members whenever he visited his rural home.

He attributed this to the fact that Nkomo, who was buried at the National Heroes' Acre, rarely visited Tsholotsho as he was "constantly tied up" in Harare with government business.

For example, said Sam, the late VP never slept at his rural home since 1980.

"He was a busy man since he was a minister and later a VP . . . He rarely was free to visit Tsholotsho. If I am not mistaken, I think he never slept in Tsholotsho since 1980," said Sam.

"When he visited Tsholotsho, he would come in the morning maybe around 9am and spend a few hours and leave for Harare."

He added: "During his visits, all the conversations were centred on our family.

"He was not a man fond of talking about his political life and Zimbabwean politics whenever he was with us (family members)."

Nkomo held various ministerial posts since 1980 before he was appointed VP in 2009.

He is survived by his mother, who other family members said is 110 years old, and four children.

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