Guerilla name not a war record: Chiwenga
OPPOSITION party ZimPF, led by Dr Joice Mujuru, is portraying its base ignorance by claiming President Mugabe was not a veteran of the liberation struggle because he did not have a nom de guerre, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga has said.
In a 2016 Heroes and Defence Forces Day interview with The Sunday Mail, whose final instalment of serialisation will be published on August 21, Gen Chiwenga pointed out that the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo, Zanu Chairman Cde Herbert Chitepo, and independent South Africa’s first President Nelson Mandela — among many others — deliberately did not have guerilla names.
According to the pro-opposition private media, Dr Mujuru two weekends ago reportedly said President Mugabe’s lack of a nom de guerre was evidence he was at the periphery of the Second Chimurenga.
Functionaries like Mr Gift Nyandoro have even gone to the extent of rewriting history by saying President Mugabe joined the struggle in its twilight, yet all historical accounts record the Zimbabwean leader’s active involvement in the nationalist battle for democracy dating to 1960 — 20 years before Independence and six years before the war started.
And Gen Chiwenga has shot back saying the fiction being created by the opposition demonstrated crass ignorance of how the war was fought and the different roles the leadership had in its execution.
He said, “The top leaders were elected by the people to lead the struggle and they made a supreme sacrifice to go out there to lead the combatants. There was no need for them to change their names because they were already known.
“It would be naïve for President Mugabe, for example, to change his name. Who didn’t know that this is President Mugabe or Vice-President Joshua Nkomo or VicePresident Simon Muzenda or Ziyaphapha Moyo, or even our commanders Josiah Magama Tongogara? They were known.
“Why fighters had to be given noms de guerre or to change their names was for two specific reasons: for the individual’s personal protection and for the protection of their families.
“They had to be protected. Can you imagine if I had used my real name, Constantino, and then I get captured and killed, then they would take me to the village, my home, and make a lot of propaganda? That would derail the struggle.
“Who would then want their sons and daughters to go to war when they see bodies being paraded in their villages?”
Gen Chiwenga went on: “Others wanted to use their own names but we said that was dangerous in a scenario that they are captured or killed.
“For instance, I changed names twice officially but during the war I had many names.
“When I changed sectors or provinces I would use another name so that the enemy could not follow up on where I was operating.
“When I joined the struggle I was Samuel Munyoro; that was my first name. Second, I was given Dominic Chinenge. What they (his superiors at the time) didn’t know was that Dominic was my real name and I did not tell them that.
“So all those who talk about noms de guerre have no idea of how a guerilla war is waged. They have no idea on how an armed struggle is waged.”
General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga