Mnangagwa’s Liberation War Tale: Fact Or Fabrication?
6 July 2024
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By Political Reporter-Zanu PF President Emmerson Mnangagwa has seized upon the death of Silas Takawira Mashupiko Masawi, a member of the Zimbabwe Political Prisoners Detainees and Restrictees Association (ZIPPEDRA), to weave a narrative about his supposed contributions during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Mnangagwa’s involvement in the liberation war has always been shrouded in mystery, with many questioning the authenticity of his claims.

On Friday, while offering condolences for the late Masawi, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 86, Mnangagwa once again attempted to portray himself as a key figure in the fight for independence.

Masawi, at the time of his death, was the chairman of the Tangwena Zanu PF District in Mazowe West Constituency.

However, Mnangagwa’s condolence message seemed to focus more on his own exploits than on the life and contributions of Masawi.

Below is Mnangagwa’s statement, wherein he appears to inflate his role in the liberation struggle:
“Following the blowing up of a steam locomotive outside Fort Victoria (now Masvingo) in 1964 by the Crocodile Gang, a ZANLA Guerilla Unit I led, Colonial Administration Forces went on a manhunt against members of the group. I escaped and went into hiding to stay at the late Michael Mawema’s house in Highfield and it is at this house that I first met Cde Silas Masawi in 1964. Cde Silas Masawi, already active in the underground movement of ZANU, was a dependable and committed cadre in the liberation of this country. I stayed with Cde Masawi under one roof until I was betrayed and arrested in 1965,” President Mnangagwa said in his condolence message.
He continued, recounting Masawi’s arrest in 1967 and subsequent release after three months, followed by a conviction in 1973 under the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), which led to an 11-year imprisonment. Mnangagwa detailed Masawi’s hardships, including the loss of sight in his left eye and hearing in his left ear due to torture, and noted Masawi’s release in 1980, shortly before Zimbabwe’s independence.
Mnangagwa also highlighted a 2021 visit from Masawi to State House, where the two reminisced about their past. He spoke of Masawi’s efforts to revive the Nyachuru chieftainship, which had been abolished by the colonial administration in 1896, and how he had honored Masawi’s request to restore it, naming him as the rightful heir.
“On behalf of Zanu PF, Government and on my own behalf I express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Masawi family upon the loss of a dear husband, loving father and grandfather. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Mnangagwa concluded.

While Mnangagwa’s statement paints him as a central figure in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, many remain sceptical about the accuracy of his recollections and his actual contributions during that pivotal period in the country’s history.