ED, Deputy Were Not There When The Patriotic Front Was Formed
27 December 2021
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The People of Zimbabwe were united under the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Z.A.P.U).

When Z.A.P.U. was banned, the party leadership decided that it will not form another political party, again, because the Rhodesian Government will ban that party,  confiscate its property, and have the political leadership arrested. Instead Z.A.P.U. operated under a People’s Caretaker Council (P.C.C.).

Before Z.A.P.U. was banned, the party had undertaken a programme to raise an army to wage a military armed struggle as it had become very obvious and clear that there was no other way to realise majority rule in Zimbabwe.

Z.A.P.U had sent its cadres, to Ghana, Egypt, North Korea, and to the People’s Republic of China for military training.

However, some members of the National Executive Committee of Z.A.P.U. led by Ndabaningi Sithole, who was the National Chairman of Z.A.P.U. with other members, including Robert Mugabe, Enos Nkala, Henry Hamadziripi, and others broke away, on 08 August 1963, and formed the Zimbabwe African National Union, (Z.A.N.U.) sighting lack of a will to fight by Z.A.P.U. and yet Z.A.P.U had started a military training programme.

Both Z.A.P.U. and Z.A.N.U, established external wings separately in Zambia, to direct the armed struggle.

Z.A.P.U. belonged to the six authentic liberation movements that were recognised by the Organisation Of African Unity (OAU) including the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa; FRELIMO of Mozambique; SWAPO of Namibia; MPLA of Angola; and PAIGC of Cape Verde.

But ZANU and others such as the PAC were not recognised by the OAU but were supported by President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

Mr James Chikerema who was Vice-President of Z.A.P.U and the leader of the external wing of ZAPU, together, with some of the members of the party decided to form, The Front For The Liberation Of Zimbabwe (FROLIZ). The main reason behind the formation of FROLIZ by James Chikerema, was a reaction to the unity between ZAPU and the ANC, leading to a joint combat operation in Wankie followed by the Sipolilo operations.

James Chikerema saw that as a tribal reunion of the Ndebele people with what he termed as their South African kith and kins. I was the Camp Commander at the Dan Nang Base where the Luthuli Detachment was training. As a result of that attitude, James Chikerema never set his foot to visit Dan Nang Camp. Because of his attitude towards the ZAPU/ANC alliance, Jason Moyo or Akim Ndlovu could not come. Only Oliver Tambo was a constant visitor to Dan Nang.

James Chikerema even designed a slogan “WE CAN ALSO FIGHT”. In the meanwhile, ZANU accused ZAPU and said that Zimbabwe has a population of 4 million people. Therefore, there was no need to use South African mercenaries in the war in Zimbabwe.

However, in the long run, the formation of FROLIZ and teaming up with UANC of Abel Muzorewa, posed a very serious threat to both ZAPU and ZANU, when moderate member States of the OAU at the Benghazi Libya Summit demanded that they no longer recognise ZAPU and ZANU, and instead recognise Muzorewa and James Chikerema, accusing the two of lack of progress.

Realising, this threat, and also with the advice from well-wishers, including Zambia and Tanzania, ZAPU and ZANU, decided to form the Joint Military Command (JMC) in Mbeya, Tanzania.

Fundamental principles were laid down to be followed as the parties had their Constitutions and their Mandate from their supporters. It was emphasised that this was a programme of unity, not a programme to swallow one another. To guard against swallowing each other, it was agreed that if the Chairman comes from ZAPU or ZANU, the Commander of the JMC will come from the party of the Deputy Chairman.

In this case, Herbert Chitepo became Chairman, and Nikita Mangena became Chief of Staff of the JMC.

It was also agreed as a principle that if a head of a department is from ZPRA, his deputy should come from ZANLA and vice versa.

Finally, the layout was:

-Herbert Chitepo; ZANU Chairman

-Jason Moyo; ZAPU Deputy Chairman

-Nikita Mangena; ZPRA Chief of Staff

– Josiah Tongogara; ZANLA Chief of Operations

-Sotsha Ngwenya (JD) ZPRA Deputy

-Robson Manyika; ZANLA Political Commissar

-Lookout Masuku ZPRA Deputy

-John Mataure ZANLA Chief of Personnel and Training

-Cephas Cele ZPRA Deputy

-Gordon Munyanyi; ZPRA Chief of Military Intelligence

-Webstar Gwauya ZANLA Deputy

-Phelekezela Mphoko ZPRA Chief of Logistics and Supplies

-William Ndangana  ZANLA Deputy.

This principle was followed when the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) was formed in September 1975, in Mozambique, with a layout of;

-Solomon Mujuru; ZANLA Commander

-Sotsha Ngwenya ZPRA Deputy

-Nikita Mangena ZPRA Political Commissar

-Dzinashe Mashingura ZANLA Deputy

-Ambrose Mutinhiri ZPRA Chief of Presonnel and Training

-Parker Chipowere ZANLA Deputy

-Gordon Munyanyi ZPRA Chief of Military Intelligence

-James Nyikadzino ZANLA  Deputy

-Ella’s Hondo ZANLA Chief of Operations

-Jevan Maseko ZPRA Deputy

-Phelekezela Mphoko ZPRA Chief of Logistics and Supplies

-Edmond Kaguri ZANLA Deputy.

This is the same principle that was followed when the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe was formed in 1976 in Mozambique. The emphasis was mainly to the co-leaders of the Patriotic Front, Dr Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe that they should rotate the chairmanship of the Patriotic Front meetings. If there are delegations for other meetings, equal members from both ZAPU and ZANU should attend.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe, states very clearly that ZAPU and ZANU liberated Zimbabwe. Comrades Joshua Nkomo brought ZAPU and led his supporters into the Unity and Robert Mugabe respectively brought ZANU and led his supporters into the Unity. Not that only ZANU brought its supporters, into the Unity as suggested by the prevailing situation.

There is no one at the moment in Cabinet or Politburo who was present at the formation of the JMC in Mbeya, as those revolutionary principles were laid down. There is no one in Cabinet or Politburo who was present when ZIPA, the second Military Unity between ZPRA and ZANLA, was formed in 1975, and there is no one in Cabinet or Politburo who was present at the formation of the Patriotic Front in 1976.

It is a fact that ZANU did not unite with itself but with ZAPU. The 22 December 1987 Unity Accord between ZAPU and ZANU was signed for a different purpose related to post Independence killings. The Unity Between ZAPU and ZANU was achieved long back when the Patriotic Front was formed in 1976.  All negotiations were done collectively as a United Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe. Since its formation, the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe united the people of Zimbabwe. However, that Unity was destroyed when the co-leader Robert Mugabe, pulled out of the Unity citing that he had been accused by people like Muzorewa, Matimba and others for giving the leadership of the people of Zimbabwe to the Ndebeles.

However, his statement and position were welcomed by President Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere.

The meeting was attended by Presidents: Samora Machel (the host) Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Edwardo Dos Santos, and Queti Masire in Beira Mozambique. Mugabe informed that he was going to campaign as ZANU and not as the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe.     

This was the first and last meeting of the Frontline Heads of States on Zimbabwe, after the Lancaster House peace talks and just before elections leading to Independence. This was also the first meeting to be attended by President Edwardo dos Santos of Angola after the death of Agostinho Neto.

The Patriotic Front was represented by the co-leader Robert Mugabe, Simon Muzenda, Edgar Tekere, and Phelekezela Mphoko.

Those, living today who are in the leadership of the United Party of the Patriotic Front, have a duty to uphold the revolutionary principles adopted by those who have departed. That is the only honour they could be accorded with. At least to respect their principles.  The current position prevailing suggests that their approach to the armed struggle and the unity of the people of Zimbabwe was wrong.

-Phelekezela Mphoko