‘We killed sell­outs mer­ci­lessly’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - CHRONICLES FROM THE SECOND CHIMURENGA -

WHEN we started the se­ries of in­ter­views with CdeDavidTodhlana(bornChrispenTap­fuma Mataire) a few weeks ago, we warned about his bru­tal hon­esty. This week, he tells Mun­yaradzi Hu­niandTendaiManz­vanzvike­howlib­er­a­tion fight­ers killed two sell-outs by throw­ing them in­toafire­and­blow­ingth­emup­with­ex­plo­sives.

Q: Cde Todhlana, as we con­tinue, can you talk

briefly about your train­ing? A:After­our­train­ing­wew­ere­tak­en­toKongwa Camp­inTan­za­nia.Thiswasatran­sit­camp for com­rades await­ing de­ploy­ment. While at Kongwa, we spoke a lot about pol­i­tics. One day dur­ing dis­cus­sions I said I saw no rea­son for dis­unity be­tween Zanu and Zapu. I said this was hap­pen­ing be­cause of the am­bi­tions of the lead­ers. I was la­belled a Zapu agent but I wasn’t beaten up. Ndakan­govharirwa muka kari­botso, a small room. I was there alone for eight days. I was re­leased af­ter Chitepo passed through Kongwa and was told about my is­sue. On hear­ing my story, Chitepo said “call him”. I was brought to Chitepo who asked me to tell him my story. I told him that I didn’t see the rea­son why Zanu and Zapu were plan­ning to fight the strug­gle separately. I said my think­ing was that we should fight the war as a united force. Chitepo then or­dered myre­lease.He­said­munhuwe­seanekodzero to speak his mind. At the end of 1971, that’s when the de­ploy­ment to the war front started. I was part of the Groupof45.Wewentin­toac­tion­tiri45.The first task was to carry ma­teriel from Chi­fom­boin­toRhode­si­ain­prepa­ra­tionfor­war. The jour­ney from Chi­fombo to Zam­bezi River would take us days takatakura heavy ma­te­rial. Up un­til the end of 1971, we were car­ry­ing ma­te­rial. On one or two occasions, we had to join Fre­limo­to­goku­com­bat­be­causewew­erepass­ing through Mozam­bique. So we had to as­sist Fre­limo to fight the Por­tuguese. The Fre­limo com­man­ders said ma­com­rades, we want you to join us mum­boona kuti kurova varungu kunon­akidza­sei. It’s en­joy­able. Q: En­joy­able? A: Yes. You see Fre­limo was now on top of the sit­u­a­tion. Ma­putukezi akanga avaku­to­tadza kubuda muma camp. Their sup­plies akanga achi­touya nen­dege and they would be dropped. So Fre­limo was now on top of the sit­u­a­tion and one day they de­cided to go and hit a cer­tain camp. They asked us to join them. This be­came our bap­tism of fire. First time kuridzap­futi uchiridzir­wawo. We ac­tu­ally man­aged to over­run the camp. There was a young man called Cde Sonono. Dur­ing this bat­tle, his light ma­chine gun jammed. He was cry­ing kuti ndirikusarira in this en­joy­ment­tofireatthePor­tugue­sesol­diers. Akachema wena (laughs). Q: When were you de­ployed to the war front? A: Around June 1972. Mem­bers of the High Com­mand,in­clud­ingN­dan­gana,Ton­gog­ara, Mayor Urimbo and oth­ers, came to Chi­fombo and said, “Machinda, we think you have car­ried suf­fi­cient am­mu­ni­tion home. We think you should now go home and start the war.” I raised my hand. I said, “Cde Tongo, why

would you want to sac­ri­fice us?” He said what do you mean? I told him that the ter­rain up to De­cem­ber kunenge kusina cover. Miti yese, they are shed­ding their leaves.Sec­ondly,Itold­himkuDan­dek­wese hakuna mvura. The lit­tle sources of wa­ter were dams and I knew Rhode­sian sol­diers would wait for us there. I sug­gested that we should be de­ployed af­ter the first rains. Thank heav­ens, he agreed. Q:We­hearCdeTon­gowasatough­com­man­der.

How did you man­age to con­vince him? A: Yes, very tough, but it was com­mon sense. Any military per­son would ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand. This was my first per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle; to con­vincetheHighCom­mand­ku­ti­iyezvino hakuiti kuti tipinde ku­musha, oth­er­wise hondo hayaizova sus­tain­able. It was not easy to talk to Cde Tongo just like that. And in my case re­mem­ber I was com­ing from Zipra, but I spoke my mind. I had re­ceived lots of train­ing and I knew my rights. I had no prob­lems talk­ing to any­one. Re­mem­ber I told you that I told Rob­son Manyika as he was beat­ing me kuti iwe uri shef just be­cause wakatanga ku­uya kuhondo. Very few peo­ple could speak like that. So thank heav­ens Cde Tongo and the High Com­mand agreed to my sug­ges­tion. So we con­tin­ued­car­ry­ing­ma­te­ri­al­in­toRhode­sia. On 11 Novem­ber 1972, we came into Rhode­sia. We wanted that day to co­in­cide with the day that UDI was de­clared by Ian Smith. We di­vided our­selves into two ma­jor groups. The first group went to Mu­toko. Cde Ken­nethGwind­ingwi,KG,wasthecom­man­der of this first group. He went with com­rades like Kenny Ridzai and oth­ers. This­di­vi­sionof­com­radeswas­doneatCham­boko Base. Also at the base paiva na Sekuru Chidya­mauyu, Sekuru Chiodza Mam­era andSeku­ruChipfeni.Whileatthe­ba­se­vana sekuru ava vakapa ma com­rades twu­mis­honga twaipfek­erwa mu­vhudzi. The sec­ond group went to Dande, Spo­lilo and soon­with­thecom­man­derasRexNhongo. I was in this sec­ond group. This group was sub­di­vided into two groups. There was one group led by Cde John Pedzisa. I was the leader of the other group. Rex Nhongo took two of our ju­nior com­rades ashi­saides.He­didn’tjoin­my­grouporJohn Pedzisa’s group. He re­mained as the li­ai­son be­tweenu­sandthe­com­rade­satthe­bor­der. He was also in charge in case more re­in­force­mentscame.JohnPedzi­sawa­sor­dered tolook­fo­ratar­ge­tand­fireatthat­targe­ton25 De­cem­ber­to­co­in­cide­with­Christ­masDay. Iwa­sor­deredthattwo­dayslater,on­the27th of De­cem­ber, I should find a tar­get to hit. So John Pedzisa iden­ti­fied Al­terna Farm as his tar­get. On 25 De­cem­ber, he fired. Poor Davie,I(was)stil­l­look­ing­formy­tar­get.Igot my tar­get on the 29th. This was a farm that had a farm shop. Be­fore hit­ting this farm, we laid land­mines be­cause we knew Rhode­sian­sol­dier­swould­comeafterthe­at­tack. We were nine in my group and I was the Sec­tion Com­man­der. My deputy was Cde Tsanan­gura. In lo­gis­tics there was David Mukuyi, the Com­mis­sar was Cde Nyika. Q: You spoke about vana sekuru. What ex­actly

was their role? A: (Long pause) I am an athe­ist; inini Davie. I don’t be­lieve in cre­ation. I don’t be­lieve in re­li­gion. I don’t be­lieve in mashavi. So zve­mushon­gawanaseku­ruz­vai­it­wanevanozv­inzwi­sisauye­vanozvi­tenda.Ididn’tpar­tic­i­pate but I didn’t op­pose any­one. Vanhu vai­ita zvavaita but ini I said no. There was a small pool kai­iswa mushonga nana sekuru kuti ma­com­rades atuh­wine, not me. Han­di­tuh­wine. Of course other fight­ers be­lieved in vana sekuru but not me. To me it didn’t make sense. Q: Do you be­lieve spirit medi­ums played a role

in the lib­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe? A:Yes,in­away.Butwhat­way?In­termso­fu­nit­ing the peo­ple and in terms of en­cour­ag­ing the fight­ers. In terms of giv­ing them hope. Not kuti shiri would guide us kuti endai neuko. It didn’t make sense to me. I never showed any­one that I was op­posed to all this. Ndain­gon­yarara. Q:Some­com­radessaythey­survived­be­causeof spirit medi­ums. What do you at­tribute your sur­vival to? A:Luck.It’sluck.Somepeo­ple­would­die,oth­ers would sur­vive. I am one of those who were lucky to sur­vive. Q: So you are an athe­ist ...? A: It’s my teach­ing - Marx­ism and Lenin­ism. That’s my bi­ble. That’s what I be­lieve in. Marx­ism and Lenin­ism fo­cuses on peo­ple and fo­cuses on the be­ing. You are ei­ther good or bad. I don’t be­lieve mune zve­mamin­i­mini. You know, my young brother died in 1989. He was a taxi driver. I said to him, “Nyasha, ndanga ndiri kuhondo all along, now I am back, go to school. I will as­sist you to go to school.” He re­fused to take my ad­vice say­ing he was al­ready mar­ried and so couldn’t leave his wife. He then asked me to as­sist him to be­come a taxi driver. I ad­vised him against be­ing a taxi driver but he re­mained adamant. One day he was in­volved in a road ac­ci­dent and he died on the spot. He was driv­ingfromChi­tung­wiz­a­to­ward­sHarare. Akaro­hwa ne Puma yema­soja. Takaenda ku­musha­to­bury­hi­man­de­v­ery­thing­went well. Af­ter the burial, my big broth­ers said, “Mang­wana tiri kuenda kun’anga kunob­vun­zira kuti chau­raya mwana chii?” I said, “Ahh, mukoma. Mwana awu­raiwa ne

Puma (laughs).” I am try­ing to em­pha­sise that I don’t be­lieve in some of th­ese things but I don’t dis­cour­age any­body. Even my wife, she goes to church. Each time she says, “Nhasi daddy muriku­dakuen­dakupi?Ndiriku­dakuenda nemo­takuchurch.”Isay­take,nhasi­han­d­ina kwandiri kuenda. “Ndiriku­da­wo­somem­o­neykunob­visachipo ku church.” I give her. I en­cour­age her to go to church be­cause I know ku church anofundiswa tsika dza­kanaka to take care of me and our chil­dren. That’s good. Mai vakanaka, mai veChita, vanofanirwa kuchengeta mu­rume zvakanaka. For me that’s good and its ends there. Zvoku­zoti kana ndafa what what, that’s some­thing else. Q: Any­way, let’s go back to your jour­ney dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. We had got­ten to that stage were you have laid land­mines with your group af­ter Cde Pedzisa had hit Al­terna Farm... A: Yes, af­ter lay­ing the land­mines, we moved away from the area and went to Cen­te­nary around Chi­weshe area. In Chi­weshe, I em­pha­sised­to­my­comradesthatwe­needto mo­bilisepeo­ple.Iwoul­dal­waystellthe­com­rades that we were the nu­cleus of the war. I would tell them, “Look, we are only 45, go­ing to fight a whole army ya Smith. We can’t win (alone). Let’s mo­bilise our peo­ple kuti vatam­bire­hon­dosothatweget­sup­por­t­and get more re­cruits.” I said we should not do what we had done in Zapu at Wankie in 1968 . . .Then Zanu in 1966, paChin­hoyi. . . Iwas­sayin­gas­muchas­pos­si­ble,let’savoid­con­fronta­tion nevarungu. Avoid them, don’t hit them un­less you are cor­nered. As the nu­cleus, our main task was to mo­bilise the mass­esan­drecruit­more­com­rades.Re­plen­ish our num­bers. At one time I was chal­lenged­byJamesBond.He­said,“CdeDavie, ta­vane two weeks takauya, hati­sati tarova mu­rungu. Did we come to talk to peo­ple?” He chal­lenged me as his com­man­der. He said two weeks tisina kurovavarungu, what the hell is this? You see, un­der­stand­ing in­osiyana. I had read a lot about rev­o­lu­tions. I had read about the Chi­nese rev­o­lu­tion, the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion, the Viet­namese rev­o­lu­tion. He had not read all this and so he had nowhere to make any ref­er­ence. I re­fused to suc­cumb to pres­sure yana James Bond.Itoldthemwe­wan­ta­sus­tain­able­lib­er­a­tion strug­gle; hondo iyen­derere mberi. Be­cause­ofmy­be­liefs,somepeo­plere­garded measacow­ard.Kwanz­iCdeDavievan­otya varungu. Q: Your ideas led to ma­pungwe? A: Yes. At our stage dur­ing the early 1970s, we had to hold ma­pungwe pri­vately. We would­go­tovil­lagesto­tau­ranev­abereki,telling them of their role in the strug­gle and we would tell them to­day vana mare­cruits vauye ti­wande. Q: How dif­fi­cult was it to ex­plain this to the mass­escon­sid­er­ingth­e­sew­eretheear­ly­days of the strug­gle? A: In the ar­eas where we started op­er­at­ing around Mt Dar­win and so on, it was easy go­ing due to the in­flu­ence yehondo yeku Mozam­bique. Th­ese peo­ple were close to the bor­der with Mozam­bique. They knew what was hap­pen­ing in Mozam­bique so we told them tazowuyawo isu vana venyu. They quickly un­der­stood. The other is­sue I was also teach­ing my col­leagues was that for us to sur­vive, we must deal with sell-outs. This was more im­por­tant than kurova varungu. Kurova sell­out zviri more im­por­tant than kurova varungu. Ukarova sell-out, the whole area ya free and we can op­er­ate. I wouldtellthe­com­radesthatka­natichi­rova orkill­masell-outs,don’tdoit­in­pri­vate.No. Assem­ble the peo­ple, kuwun­ganidza vanhu and tell them, “Baba nhingi ava van­odai, van­odai. Isusu ma­g­a­n­danga enyu, vana venyu, hatina ma­jeri, we don’t have any pris­ons. Un­like varungu vanosunga and put you in pris­ons, isu ukatengesa hatina ma­jeri - tino­ponda. Tino kupondai, manzwa vabereki? We kill!” Q:Youw­ereteach­ingy­our­com­radestokillsell­outsin­frontof­povobut­thi­sis­the­same­povo youwant­to­sup­port­you.How­didthis­work? Was this a well-thought strat­egy? The fish and­wa­ter­phi­los­o­phy,how­doe­sit­workhere? A: It works per­fectly well in this strat­egy. There is no con­tra­dic­tion at all. We are talk­ing about a sell-out, not the gen­er­al­ity of povo. And I was em­pha­sis­ing, don’t de­stroy sell-outs in pri­vate. Do it in pub­lic. Gather the peo­ple and ex­plain to them kuti babavaChipo­vakaitaone,two,three­things. Isusu vana venyu hatina ma­jeri. Th­ese sell­outs vano dzosera hondo ku­mashure. So hati­na­ma­jeri, we kill. Q:Some­com­rade­shave­toldusthat­some­times the­com­radeswould­beused­by­povo­to­set­tle per­sonal is­sues. Some peo­ple would lie that this and that per­son is a sell-out just to set­tle scores. . . A: That’s very true. It’s pos­si­ble pane vakapindainthatcross­fire.It’spos­si­blethattheir dis­agree­ments, their feuds in the vil­lages aizowuya kwatiri munhu akunzi sell-out. Ican’tde­fend­whatwe­didintha­tre­gard.Some­times tain­goti zvataudzwa, we work with that. Q: Tell us of your per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with some of the sell-outs. What ex­actly did you do your­self? A: I re­mem­ber some sell-out, mup­fana who was mid-age. He came to Mukum­bura. That was 1973. Awuya aifamba mu­sango and isu taigara mu­sango. Taka­mu­bata tikati, “Muchinda, kwakanaka, urikuitei?” He said, “Haa, ndiri kutsvaga mushonga werukawo.” “Wab­vakupi?” “Nd­abva ku Harare.” “Kuno un­oziva ani?” “Ha­pana wandi­nozi­vaasin­dakarair­waku­tiareaino ndiyo in­owanikwa mushonga werukawo.” So we as­sem­bled the lo­cal peo­ple. “Pane

anomuziva here munhu­uyu?” Ha­pana. “Inzwaiwo story yake yaari ku­taura.” He is say­ing ari kutsvaga mushonga werukawo kubva kuHarare but isusu we sus­pect this must be a spy. Atumwa to come and spy on our ac­tiv­i­ties here. So we want to deal with him. Q: Which area was this? A: KuDande. Ndakati isai moto, matanda, huni and so on. Kwakusunga makumbo ne­ma­woko like we do on a goat. Kwakukanda. Ha­pana pata mubaya nebanga,ha­pana­p­atarova.Van­hu­vaka­ten­deredza ma­vivi emoto. Taka­tora mu­tumbi uya wata­sunga kwakukanda mu­moto. Every­body­iswatch­ing.Every­body­iswatch­ing. That’s enough cru­elty to teach you kuti hazvi­itwe izvi. Q:Hady­ouin­ter­ro­gat­ed­hi­me­noughtobesure? A:His­languageku­ti­ak­ab­vakuHarareku­zotsvaga mushonga werukawo. Ahh, one plus onee­qualstwo.Thiswasaspy.Somepeo­ple get caught in cross­fire. That’s war. Q: Cde, you are tak­ing some­one who is alive and throw­ing him into a fire. As the com­man­der, as you were do­ing this, what was go­ing through your mind? No guilty con­science, no noth­ing? A: No, not at all. Q: Even up to to­day? A:No.Iam­con­vincedI­didtheright­thing.For my com­rades to be safe, we must re­move such peo­ple. Q: No one among your com­rades protested

against do­ing this? A: No one. Q: And the re­ac­tion from the povo? A: Of course vanhu vakachema. Uyu ndiye watakakan­da­mu­moto.Theotherone­taka musun­girira ma ex­plo­sives kubva kuma kumbo tichi mon­er­era mon­er­era. When wew­ere­sat­is­fiedthat­ev­ery­partyasvikama ex­plo­sives, then vanhu vakawunga, se­berai uko, se­berai uko. Press but­ton to det­o­nate the ex­plo­sives. Ha­pana chi­nowonekwa chasara ipapo. You

are re­duc­ing the body into thin air. Young man, don’t be­have like a church man, kuita kunge fata anobva anzwa tsitsi maningi. This is war. Ine vanhu vanofira mu­cross­fire but tichizowana the main goal. W e were sup­posed to avoid such in­ci­dents as much as pos­si­ble, but th­ese are some of the things that hap­pened. My teach­ing was in­stil fear into the peo­ple. Over time, trans­form that fear into sup­port. It will be strong sup­port. Munhu wese anenge ava kuziva kuti ukan­gova on the wrong side, ma­g­a­n­danga, they kill. We don’tjustkill,wekillmer­ci­lessly.Mer­ci­lessly. Q:Wheny­ouhave­blown­some­onein­tothinair,

as com­man­der do you sleep soundly? A:Sleep­ing?No,prob­lem.No­prob­lem(laughs). Th­ese were my two ex­pe­ri­ences but oth­ers were do­ing it in many other ways. Vamwe vaiti isa gumbo padanda and chop it off. Ha­pana­mushonga,ha­pana­ban­dage.Noth­ing. Chop it off.

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