Magistrate killing mission that went awry
Hadebe, Kay Nkala, Elliot Ngwabi, we also had a trained man from China called Clark Mpofu.”
Clark Mpofu had been arrested for bombing a circus in Bulawayo. The comrades had made some arrangements to sneak out of the country to Zambia via Botswana with people who were on the outside. After getting a lift Cde Hadebe requested that they be dropped at Plumtree. They then proceeded to Botswana on foot only to be ambushed by police officers after they had appeared in a newspaper as most wanted terrorists.
“The newspaper was offering a price for anyone who would manage to catch us. It said anyone or all of them you will be given 250 pounds. When we were in the car I realised that there was a police car which following us because I had passed through Botswana when I was going for military training and I could tell from the number plates that it was a police car. I alerted others that we were being ambushed. When the car behind us was slowing down we all jumped out of the truck and I heard a gun being fired. We all ran. Ngwabi tried to help the other one who had fallen down, and in the process they were both captured. Now it was only Clark and I.”
However, Hadebe and Clark lost each other while Ngwabi was taken to Khami Prison where he met other liberation fighters.
“You know we really had a hard time but I am happy now because we are ruling. You know back then amabhunu (white people) were very ugly and they looked at us as if we were dogs but I am really happy that at the end we achieved our mission of taking the country back,” continued Cde Hadebe.
When asked about what he wishes to be done about the Zidube Ranch, Cde Nkala said he would appreciate it if a slab would be put to narrate what happened there. He also said he would like his corpse to be taken to Parirenyatwa Hospitals to be used for learning purposes. I think by way of establishing the geography of this area it is pretty clear as you see here there is imilaga or mirage in Shona. It ( mirage) was a livestock strategy where they grazed their cattle in winter, in fact if you listen behind us there are bells so these are their cattle and it is winter time and these are cattle that have been brought here by residents from Gwanda side, Kafusi, Makoke and also Sankonjana and Babirwa. I think that is okay by way of just geography by way of when we now talk about Zidube.
“The name of the place is Zidube Ranch, perhaps Anglicised to Dube Ranch. Zidube most likely in my view is a Ndebelised word and that Ndebelised word was Anglicised then we end up with Dube that is Zidube Ranch. We are privileged today that we have people who participated in the attack on this farm. Specifically we are on the premises of a homestead of a magistrate, they will mention his name, who was here but I need to contextualise what was happening here by going briefly into history.
I will begin with the statement that is: The struggle, the broader struggle; note I did not say armed liberation struggle. I said the struggle, for independence was carried out by the civilians. It was a struggle of civilians by civilians for civilians, it should be clear to all of us. It is they that started this political struggle, as nationalists with their leaders. We have the Southern Rhodesia African Congress, its political agitation then what happens is the whites are intransigent. They would note when the wind of change was blowing as referred by Harold Markmillern the British Prime Minister then.
Those winds would not be allowed to blow into the southern part of the continent, so the party that had been formed on the 12th of September at Mai Mosadzi Hall, the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress led by Joshua Nkomo was banned through the emergency regulation.
After its banning at that time there wasn’t any armed component to it that is why I said let us be clear so that we know what starts and what follows. It’s a struggle for the people by the people and when I am saying people I am referring to civilians. I will show later that it is the civilians who then later become armed.
Then 1960 comes when the Southern Rhodesia African Congress has been banned, the National Democratic party is formed on the first of January 1960 with Michael Mawema initially as president when Nkomo was still in London but Nkomo comes back and takes over in about September. That is the year when the decision to bring in the armed component was taken. What we then see are two aspects: what is happening in rural areas and what is happening in urban areas.
In rural areas its taking sabotage of government installation quite admittedly Government installations in rural areas were neglected and marginalised and there was not much. What they could resort to were dip tanks so that is the time this area west of where we are koBhidi, Nyashongwe, St Josephs area going to Mbembeswana there was a lot of political agitation and the reason is quite clear, Joshua Nkomo came from that area.
We see the influence of these early nationalists though they lived in town they still maintained contact with their rural homes, so you will see the Gwanda area, Edward Bhakwa uNdlovu was there and again there was a lot of political agitation koSigombe and eNqameni and then what was happening was repose to sabotaging the dip tanks. In urban areas what we see in 1960 in particular is Zhi! Zhi is coming from the Ndebele attack chant, they would say: Zhiii mama ngadla Ngo mkhonto, ngomdikadika Zhi mama ngadla.
They adopted that slogan which is an attacking chant. Then who do we see? We had elders in Bulawayo like Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo who lived in Makokoba, people like Bhenjamini Madlela, Siphibi Moyo and many others. They were all living in Makokoba. Then we had very vibrant active youths in Bulawayo, here we are talking about Dumiso Dabengwa, Archie Ndlovu, Ethan Dube and many others. These were the youths and then it was the youths realising that these whites were not responding to their call of majority rule then they started the march.
They wanted to march into town but they were stopped along Third Avenue then they were throwing stones. A stone must be understood as a weapon. It’s most basic but it is a weapon and now we are moving away from mere talk with their mouths to the use of stones. There was not a single bullet which was fired during Zhii. There was lot of throwing of stones and there was also a lot of sabotage, lots of arson, destroying of buildings and that was the form it took. That was the beginning of the armed liberation struggle from the general liberation struggle transforming through the use of stones initially it becomes the armed liberation struggle.
I am presently engaged in writing the history of Zipra but the strategy I will make use of is identifying the various stages it took. I was talking to Dumiso Dabengwa yesterday and we realised that there were stages and we are here today witnessing a stage beyond the use of stones. The Hadebes who attacked the Zidube Ranch were not using stones, they were beyond that. In 1960 there is sabotage, then by 1961 some people had gone out of the country. In 1962 some people were training in China for example but the first group under Zapu was led by Charles Chikerema then others came, perhaps two groups in the same year. In the same year Joshua Nkomo obtained weapons from Egypt and bordered Air France bound for Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. They stopped him because he was carrying some hand grenades in his hand luggage.
That was the beginning of getting arms into the country in 1962. I think we have narrated it before, the people who went to collect those arms in Tanzania drove through Tunduma through Zambia over Victory Falls and left them at Lupanda. I think when we told the story of Lupanda we did make reference to those weapons that were carried in a zepphyr zodiac driven by Abraham Nkwiwane then we had people like Mishack Velaphi Ncube who comes from this area by the way. There was another gentleman whose name I forget.
Some of those weapons were being received by people like Ethan Dube and Dabengwa, Archie and Thomas Ngwenya. They found their way eventually into the Matopo Hills, from there they were transported to Harare, driven by Bob Loc Manyonga. He was caught, they then opened his car boot and found Thompson machine guns and many other weapons. So the weapons had already come in, which is another step higher than the sabotage where people were making use of bombs.
Those who had gone to China, yes, they had handled weapons such as guns but largely it was sabotage that they resorted to and then bombing various government installations. Some people may know Johnson Ndebele who prematurely exploded one such weapon in Harare, I think it was at Highfield. So once the weapons had arrived it pushed the struggle to the next stage and it is that stage which we are witnessing here. The narratives of what we are going to get here relate to that period. Now they had the weapons, the bread, thompson machine guns and rifles and they came to Zidube Ranch.