New Zimbabwe (London)

1 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Dumped Us for Whites - Former War Commander

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's much celebrated policy of reconciliation he enunciated on the attainment of independence 1980, was "hollow and lopsided", a former liberation war commander said weekend.

Abel Marimo, whose nume de gurrie was Yonsi Mugabe, said Mugabe, then Prime Minister introduced the policy to appease white capitalists at the expense of his erstwhile comrades.

During the liberation struggle, Marimo was a member of the vilified Vashandi group once accused of plotting the overthrow of Mugabe, who was then Zanu leader.

"It should never have come to this. That people are alienated for 34 years when we were all comrades before independence. How does one reconcile with an enemy like the Rhodesian Front and its military wing and not his fellow blacks like the so-called Vashandi," Marimo said.

The former Zimbabwe People's Army (ZIPA) Manica Province commander was speaking on the side-lines of the burial of another liberation icon Wilfred Mhanda whose war name was Dzinashe Machingura. Mhanda died of colon cancer last week and was denied national hero's status.

"There was reconciliation with the enemy of the people but not with the heroes of the struggle," said Marimo.

"The likes of Dzino as Mhanda was affectionately known, remained ostracised up to their death and we go on top of the mountain to claim that we are democrats and sought national healing.

"That is nonsense and contempt of the struggle and the values that inspired thousands across our borders to fight racial segregation."

According to Marimo, the Vashandi group, whose surviving members made an elite funeral poll-bearing group for the late Dzino's last rites, was a caste of the best of the war commanders who had in fact catapulted Mugabe to the helm of the political leadership following the signing of the Mugagao Declaration in Tanzania in the aftermath of Herbert Chitepo's assassination.

"Mugabe, instead of being thankful to the commanders, turned on us and had us arrested by the Frelimo government in Mozambique.

"The Vashandi name was a derogatory term used to refer to us because we were supposed to work for Mugabe and other politicians while they feasted in offices as they do now," Marimo said.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF hierarchy including Dzino's former bosom-buddy and now party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo stayed away from the burial of Mhanda, the man politicians across the board have described as a brilliant military strategist.

Gumbo however has told the media that Mhanda was and remains a national hero.

"Whether he is buried at the national heroes' acre or not; it will not take away Dzino's contribution to the struggle and the fact that he is a national hero. Dzino is a hero in every sense of the word," Gumbo is reported to have said.

Mugabe, known for his unforgiving nature, on the other hand, has not even commented or at least send a condolence message to the family of the man credited with single-handedly authoring the document that thrust him into power at the height of the war (the Mugagao Declaration).

Mhanda remained an arc-critic of Mugabe's rule and was reported to have cursed his contribution in handing power to Mugabe in 1977.

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