By Kundai Marunya
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged Zimbabweans to unite and emulate the late National Hero Retired Colonel Kenny Constantine Mabuya, who shunned tribalism.
Cde Kenny Ridzai, as Mabuya was affectionately known during the armed struggle, passed away at West End Clinic in Harare on January 23 this year after a short illness.
His body was interred at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, at a burial ceremony presided over by President Mnangagwa, in the presence of high-ranking Government officials, including Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and Minister of Defence and War Veteran Affairs, as well as ZANU PF National Chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Commander Defence Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda and other Service Chiefs.
Born on January 12 1952 in Gangabezi Village under Chief Ndube in Filabusi, Matabeleland South, Cde Mabuya was brought up in Zambia where his family had relocated to in 1954 after purchasing a farm.
He was to later attend Thalimbana Primary School and Libala Secondary in Lusaka where he eventually dropped out in Form Two to join the war of liberation.
Cde Mabuya went to the ZANU offices in September of 1969 in Zambia where he was welcomed by Cde Rice Santana and Cde Bernard Mutumwa who took him to the famous House Number 93.
He was there for two months together with Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara before eventually going for military training at Intumbi Camp in Tanzania.
This was despite originating from Matabeleland South where most revolutionaries joined the ranks of ZAPU and its military wing, ZIPRA, among them Cde Mabuya’s brother, Shame.
Though largely influenced by his brother through political teachings on the colonial injustices, indiscriminate imprisonment of Africans and restrictions of their freedom of movement by Rhodesian Security Forces, Cde Mabuya opted to join ZANLA, brushing aside tribal misconceptions.
Addressing mourners at Cde Mabuya’s burial, President Mnangagwa said the late hero’s zeal to see an independent Zimbabwe trumped all purported tribal and language barriers.
“Cde Mabuya was not deterred by the limitation of language or his upbringing away from his motherland,” he said.
“It was this inclusive and endearing spirit of identity of comrades, such as the late National Hero and many others, which saw the national liberation struggle transcending the narrow boundaries of ethnicity, tribalism and regionalism.
“After all, it was the same revolutionary spirit of unity, which galvanised and inspired the formation of a united fighting front that gave birth to the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA), the Patriotic Front and, after independence, the Unity Accord.”
President Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to emulate the late Cde Mabuya.
“The challenge is now with us to consistently draw from this selfless and rich national character as we advance our National Development Agenda,” he said.
This comes at a time elements in opposition politics have been trying to divide the country along tribal lines.
The resurgence of ZAPU in recent years, even when the majority of their comrades are sticking with ZANU PF in respect of the Unity Accord, has been one force that has been feeding on tribal politics, though with little success.
Secessionist groups, such as Mthwakazi Revolutionary Party, have also been fuelling tribalism for their leaders’ selfish political ambitions.
Even the country’s main opposition party, CCC, often plays the tribal card, reflecting back to the country’s dark past, when tribal tensions almost cost Zimbabwe its hard-won peace and unity.
President Mnangagwa said the current administration is making efforts in bringing closure on Gukurahundi, one of the key issues often used by the opposition to bring about discord in Matabeleland.
Gukuraundi was a military crackdown on dissidents, mostly in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions, carried out in the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence before the existing political parties eventually united for the development of the nation.
“Presently, the Second Republic is driving the efforts to find closure and healing for the scars from the disturbances that characterised the early years of our independence,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Through various mechanisms, including initiatives led by our traditional leaders and communities, we are addressing the Gukurahundi matter.
“Emboldened by the fact that we are one people strengthened by our diversity and the spirit of love, inclusivity and tolerance, we continue to march towards sustainable, social and economic stability and prosperity.”
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is currently working with traditional chiefs, engaging communities in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces to inquire into the matter.
The holistic approach will finally bring about closure and put to rest the issue as the nation forges ahead in unity, anchored on the ‘Leaving no-one and no place behind’ mantra.
President Mnangagwa further demystified tribalism as a divisive force during and after the struggle for a free Zimbabwe.
He highlighted Cde Mabuya’s rise in the army and later in the nation’s intelligence service, which testify to equal opportunities for those dedicated to service in the country, no matter their tribes.
“At the 1977 Chimoio Congress, I was appointed to head the ZANU Security Department, deputised by Cde Vitalis Musungwa Gava Zvinavashe,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In recognition of the excellent leadership qualities exhibited by the late Cde Kenny Ridzai Mabuya, he was appointed to deputise Cde Zvinavashe as a member of the High Command.
“Following the attainment of our independence, Cde Mabuya was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army in 1981.
“He rose to the rank of Lieutenant in 1982. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1990. After an illustrious service in the Defence Forces, he retired in 1994.
“The senior officer held challenging appointments that included being Commanding Officer of the Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps.
“For his dedication, selfless service, leadership and bravery, Cde Mabuya was awarded the Liberation Medal, Independence Medal, Ten Years’ Service Medal and the Mozambique Campaign Medal.”
Cde Mabuya’s case is not incomparable as there are many other brave men and women who shunned tribalism and worked for the betterment of Zimbabwe, both before and after Zimbabwe’s liberation.
They continue to inspire people from all regions and walks of life to work together in safeguarding the country’s independence and drive forward development.