Abraham Nkiwane: A true national hero

Former ZPRA commander and veteran nationalist, Abraham Dumezweni Nkiwane (93), who died early this morning in Bulawayo deserves to be awarded the national hero status for his military leadership during the country’s liberation struggle, his former comrades have said.

Nkiwane died in the early hours of this morning at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he was admitted.

He was the first person to smuggle weapons from Zambia into Southern Rhodesia in 1962.

Zanu-PF Politburo member and former war veterans minister, Tshinga Dube, told CITE that Nkiwane deserved the national hero status due to his capable leadership and works during the armed struggle.

“Nkiwane was very old. He was over 90 years old. I worked with him during the liberation struggle for many years. He was Chief of Staff for personnel while I was Chief of staff for Communication, (former Vice President Phelekezela) Mphoko was Chief of Staff for logistics,” he said.

“He definitely deserves the national hero status but I do not know what others will say. No doubt he is a national hero.”

Dube said he managed to visit Nkiwane Monday at UBH but since he was critically ill he did not manage to talk to him.

“I saw him yesterday and he was critically ill. I could not talk to him. I always visited him,” said the former war veterans minister. 

ZAPU secretary-general, Dr Strike Mkandla added Nkiwane was one of the founders who built the ZAPU’s military wing, ZPRA.

“Nkiwane was in the special affairs branch where he worked with oMphoko, Ackim Ndlovu, (the late) Dumiso Dabengwa. He was the first person to smuggle the first weapons from Zambia in the 1960s as cadres were preparing for training,” he said.

Dr Mkandla noted that due to Nkiwane’s leadership and military prowess, the late, former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda, seconded him to work closely with ZAPU founder and late nationalist, Joshua Nkomo.

“Kenneth Kaunda told Joshua Nkomo that this was a man he could work with to free the country from the colonialist rule,” said the secretary-general.

“Nkiwane then worked on military affairs, and later he became part of the ZPRA High Command under Ackim Ndlovu.  He also worked well with Roma Nyathi, who was the Commissar of Special Affairs in the 1960s to 1970 to 1971. Nkiwane also worked well with Thomas Ngwenya who we used to call Menu.”

ZAPU secretary for Social Affairs, Mildred Mkandla said the party would remember Nkiwane for his wise counsel and direction.

“I formally met Nkiwane in 2011 but I knew prior as tales were told of his bravery and military power. Smuggling weapons in that time was a very necessary and important step in the fight for independence,” she said.

“It’s sad that his health deteriorated until he was taken to UBH where passed today around 1 am.”

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