‘13 of you can free Zim­babwe’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - CHRONICLES FROM THE SECOND CHIMURENGA - To be con­tin­ued next week

The Sun­day Mail’ s Deputy News Edi­tor Levi Mukarati con­tin­ues his con­ver­sa­tion­with C de Clark Mp ofu­att he lib­er­a­tion fighter’ s home in­Nke ta, Bu­l­awayo. Cde Mpofu chron­i­cles how he be­came a wanted man by the Rhode­sian po­lice, his es­cape to Zam­bia, and his mil­i­tary train­ing­inChina.

Q: You make it seem as if you com­mit­ted sab­o­tage un­der the noses of Rhodes ian se­cu­rity forces. How did they re­act to yourac­tiv­i­ties? A:

No! no! The Rhode­sian po­lice were al­ways af­ter us. They would even plant their men among us and ar­rests were tak­ing place, es­pe­cially against our lead­ers. As for us, the youth in Bu­l­awayo, it was Shadreck Nkomo who was ar­rested first around Jan­uary in 1963. Af­ter his ar­rest, he was sen­tenced to seven years in prison.

Q: What was his crime? A:

He had been the mas­ter­mind in burn­ing a book­shop in Bu­l­awayo’s CBD. But there were other cases of sab­o­tage and ri­ots that he had been in­volved in, which he de­nied. Nkomo, my­self and But­she were be­hind the bomb­ing of some fac­to­ries around the Thorn­grove, Ke­nil­worth and Khami Café, as well as rail­way line tar­gets. But the book­shop case was enough for the Rhode­sia Courts to sendNko mo to prison for seven years. Im­me­di­ately af­ter Nkomo’s ar­rest, the po­lice were look­ing for But­she, Ngugama and me. They were hot on us and we were hid­ing in var­i­ous places. Du­miso Dabengewa was chair­man for Mpopoma branch, Ethan Dube was chair­man in Makokoba and Akim Ndlovu was chaiman Emabuth­weni. The trio used to meet with us to strate­gise. Af­ter the ar­rest of Nkomo and news that we were be­ing sought af­ter by the po­lice, Dab en­gwa, Nd lovu and Du be ar­ranged that we leave the coun­try. It was no longer safe for us to con­tin­uerun­ning away and sleep in one house af­ter the other. We then left for North­ern Rhode­sia.

Q: How did you leave the coun­try? A:

Af­ter it was agreed that we flee the coun­try for Lusaka, we slept at Dabengwa’s fam­ily house in Mpopoma be­fore board­ing a train at Mpopoma Rail­way Sta­tion the fol­low­ing morn­ing, des­tined for Lusaka. We did not en­counter any prob­lems with the po­lice and man­aged to cross into Zam­bia. Get­ting out of Bu­l­awayo was the big is­sue be­cause some of the po­lice knew us. But once we were out of Bu­l­awayo,

we knew we had suc­ceeded. In this es­cape, it was me and Gor­don But­she and we first ar­rived in Chilenje, where John Bhebhe ran a dry clean­ing shop in Materu. We stayed at Bhebhe’s place, where we were joined by Mbe­jelwa Moyo and af­ter a week, James Chat agwa ar­rived ac­com­pa­nied by David Mpongo, who had been trained in Cuba. It was in 1963 and the four of us were taken by Mpongo to Mbeya, Tan­za­nia. In Mbeya, we were re­ceived by Cde Abra­ham Nki­wane. Cde Nki­wane used to be in charge of the Za pu of­fice in Tan­za­nia. All the com­rades who were go­ing to Tan­za­nia would first get to that of­fice for fur­ther trans­mis­sion: be it to the Soviet Union, China or Cuba. Again, on re­turn, it was Tan­za­nia be­fore Zam­bia and Rhode­sia. While in Mbeya and still in 1963, Joshua Nkomo, ac­com­pa­nied by James Chik­erema, ar­rived to meet us. We had a meet­ing with them. Nki­wane was not al­lowed to be part of the meet­ing. I don’t know the rea­son, but Nkomo asked him to ex­cuse us and they met the four of us; that is me, Chatagwa, But­she and Moyo.

Q: What was the meet­ing about? A:

In that meet­ing, Nkomo wanted to es­tab­lish what we were up to. Re­mem­ber, we had ran away from Rhode­sia for var­i­ous acts of sab­o­tage. He seemed to be in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about our char­ac­ters. I would be cor­rect to say Nkomo was afraid we were wag­ing a war in a man­ner dif­fer­ent to what they wanted. He thought we were too rad­i­cal. Nko mo asked what we had been up to, and we told him that the sab­o­tage and bombs that had been tar­get­ing the whites and their prop­er­ties had been our do­ing. He asked what we wanted, and we told him we now wanted mil­i­tary train­ing and guns to shoot the whites. Nkomo looked puz­zled, he seemed as if he was ques­tion­inghim­self on what an­i­mals the strug­gle was now cre­at­ing. I re­mem­ber Nkomo be­ing silent for a while be­fore Chi ker ema asked where we wanted togo for the train­ing. We all said Cuba. We said Cuba be­cause the guy who took us to M be ya, David Mpongo, had told us he had been trained in Cuba, so we all thought we could be trained there. At that mo­ment, Nkomo said: “Do you know that if you shoot a white man, the whites will shoot all the blacks back home?” He was of the opin­ion that we must con­tinue com­mit­ting sab­o­tage with­out killing the whites. He be­lieved in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the whites. But for us, we had de­cided to shift a gear up be­cause sab­o­tage alone was not work­ing. The two lead­ers promised us that some­thing would be or­gan­ised for us with­out elab­o­rat­ing, but they surely left the meet­ing puz­zled on the path that we had de­cided to take. About a week af­ter that meet­ing, Cde Nki­wane re­ceived a tele­phone call for us to travel to Dar es Salaam. Our travel there was not easy. We were suf­fer­ing and we would ask for food from the lo­cals. I re­mem­ber Nki­wane gave each one of us an or­ange as a pro­vi­sion for food. We were then taken to Iringa by bus and later, a train to Dar es Salaam. It was a long jour­ney. We had grown long hair and we looked like va­grants. In Dar es Salaam, we met Cde Cle­ment Muchachi who we used to call Sekuru veNDP. He used to share a bed­room with the Bull of Chiru- manzu, Leopold Takawi ra. They got th­ese names be­cause of their tough stance against the whites. It was in Dar es Salaam where I saw Ed­son Zvobgo. He was say­ing he was rep­re­sent­ing Zapu in the United States. At one time, I ques­tioned what rep­re­sen­ta­tion he was do­ing in Amer­ica when peo­ple were suf­fer­ing back home. My col­leagues had to re­strain me from con­fronting him be­cause re­ally I saw no logic in some­one rep­re­sent­ing us in the lux­u­ries of the white man. Chitepo was also there in Tan­za­nia. It was in Dar es Salaam where our group off our was joined by Charles D aura manzi, Lloyd Gun du and Fe­lix Rice, and the num­ber of peo­ple who were des­tined for mil­i­tary train­ing be­came seven.

Q: When then did you leave for train­ing

and to which coun­try? A:

We first flew to the Soviet Union where we spent about two weeks. We were taken to the Krem­lin, the govern­ment of­fices, and we also vis­ited the em­balmed body of Lenin. It was in Soviet Union where I first heard the Sovi­ets talk of how Africa was wast­ing its land. I did not un­der­stand what they were say­ing be­cause we had plenty of it in Rhodes ia. They em­pha­sis ed we build sky­scrapers and keep the land for fu­ture use. I now un­der­stand what they meant, es­pe­cially if I look at how our towns and cities are fail­ing to ex­pand be­cause of lack to space. From the Soviet Union, we then pro­ceed­edto Pek­ing, China. Pek­ing was the name of the cap­i­tal city of China then. The Chi­nese, then, were very poor and we won­dered how th­ese peo­ple were sur­viv­ing. But they were wel­com­ing. When we ar­rived, they asked us what we wanted and we told them we wanted to train to fight the white sin our coun­try who had taken land from our fore­fa­thers. The Chi­nese then said you have come to the right place to get tech­no­log­i­cal skills. We were puz­zled as we thought th­ese peo­ple were go­ing to take us to the shoot­ing range and start train­ing on how to fire a gun. But they were tak­ing us to the ru­ral ar­eas, teach­ing us agri­cul­ture. We were moved from one prov­ince to the other fa mi li aris­ing with their way of life. At one time, I asked one of our Chi­nese han­dlers the pur­pose for the vis­its. He asked what the sta­ple food was in Rhode­sia. I replied it was maize. He then said so you need to learn agri­cul­ture and pro­duce a lot of it and ex­port the sur­plus to bring money to your coun­try. He said you should use every­thing at your dis­posal to de­velop your­self. We then went to var­i­ous prov­ince sand cities to fa­mil­iar isewi th their in­dus­try and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies. They talked about mass pro­duc­tion. They told us that we had to use the gold that we had in abun­dance to lure peo­ple with tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise so that our in­dus­try de­vel­ops. All this did not make sense to us then be­cause that was not the rea­son why we were there. Af­ter the eco­nomic in­duc­tions, we then went for mil­i­tary train­ing and we were joined by an­other group of six led by LukeMhl an ga and com­pris­ing John Maluzo Ndlovu, Stone Philip Nko­mazana, Ben­son Maphosa, John­son N de be le and John Mon di ya Ndlovu. Th­ese came around April 1963 and to­gether we be­came 13. The Chi­nese gave us mo­ti­va­tion that Fidel Cas­tro lib­er­ated Cuba with 12 men and us be­ing 13, we were even bet­ter po­si­tioned to lib­er­ate Zim­babwe.

Q: We un­der­stand your lead­ers back home were not am used with the train­ingyou got from the Chi­nese. Can you ex­plain where the prob­lem was? A:

Our ac­tual train­ing lasted six full months. How­ever, dur­ing the train­ing,our lead­ers were briefed about the type of train­ing we were un­der­go­ing and they thought it was too rad­i­cal. Our lead­ers - Nkomo and Chik­erema - pre­ferred ne­go­ti­at­ing with the whites rather than di­rect con­fronta­tion. How­ever, the Chi­nese told us that when the Amer­i­cans talk of ne­go­ti­a­tions, re­ject that. We asked our­selves why the Chi­nese talk of Amer­i­cans when our fight was against the British. But we later re­alised the in­flu­ence of the Amer­i­cans on the Bri­tons at the Lan­caster House Con­fer­ence. The Chi­nese em­pha­sised we should seize po­lit­i­cal power through the bar­rel of the gun. They even gave us tac­tics of how to stage a coup, in­clud­ing the var­i­ous meth­ods of as­sas­si­na­tion. We were trained how to man­u­fac­ture land mine sand hand grenades, went through mock bat­tle op­er­a­tions and spe­cialised in guer­rilla war­fare. Our lead­ers didn’t like it.

Q: How did your lead­ers get to know of

the train­ing pro­gramme? A:

There was a time when Cde Chik­erema came to China to see how we were be­ing trained and the Chi­nese gave him the pro­gramme. Chik­erema re­turned to brief Nkomo and Mu­gabe and they were not amused. Mu­gabe was of the view that the coun­try can­not be ruled by sol­diers. You see, at that time sol­diers were con­stantly stag­ing coup sin some African coun­tries such as Nige­ria and Mu­gabe said they can not rule. That is why even later, Charles Dau­ra­manzi was not made to lead Zanla forces de­spite be­ing one of the first to un­dergo mil­i­tary train­ing in China. Mug abe was afraid of him, he did not want well-trained sol­diers as lead­ers. The na­tion­al­ist were scep tic al of sol­diers trained in China. They did not worry about those trained in camps such as Moro­goro be­cause th­ese were given the ide­ol­ogy of the na­tion­al­ists un­like us who were given a dif­fer­ent view of free­dom and power by the Chi­nese. We were and are seen as too rad­i­cal. ◆

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.