By Irvine Sibhona
Brigadier-General Collin Moyo (Rtd.) whose nom de guerre was Rodwell Nyika, a former ZPRA commander, one of our illustrious sons of Zimbabwe has died.
He played a major role in the liberation of Zimbabwe and participated in training thousands of ZPRA cadres. He was one of those who joined the struggle in the early seventies while he was still a young man who was devoted to free Zimbabwe from the clutches of the colonial regime.
He was an astute comrade who joined the struggle and went for military training in 1973. He was with the likes of Gilbert Khumalo, Lt Col. Marshal Mpofu, Tod Mphisi, Gadhafi Carious Msimanga, Vice President Col. Mohadi, and Sekuru Col. Patrick Mandu.
Upon completing his training he was chosen as an instructor in Morogoro, Tanzania. He was to remain as an instructor in Morogoro with the likes of late Col. Eddie Sigoge Mlotshwa, Stanley Gagisa, Sam Mfakazi Moyo, and others, who were mostly brilliant trainers who churned out some of the best ZPRA cadres, who did well in their social and military lives.
Rodwell Nyika also worked with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga during the short-lived period of ZIPA in 1975/76. ZIPA was meant to unify ZANLA and ZPRA into one force. He was a disciple of military discipline and continued with its execution as all those who were trained by him will testify. After the untimely termination of training bases in Tanzania, he went to Membeshi, Zambia and continued training thousands of ZPRA cadres.
It was at this juncture in his military career that he had to take the reigns and prove to himself and those he was training after he was deployed an Area Commander in 1977 in Feira near Mana Pools. He relieved David Ndebele Chibhoyi who later became the commander of ZPRA Tank Regiment. He remained as the commander of the area until 1978 when the new command structures and regional re-organisation took place. By this time his forces had infiltrated up to Sipolilo now Guruve.
He was then tasked by the commander of ZPRA Lt Gen Lookout Masuku to reorganise the operational regions from the previous coded regional designations to more organised fronts. He was joined by two deputy chiefs of operations, namely Richard Mataure (Col P Ngwenya), late Mike Reynolds (Brigadier General Gray), late Mpondo, (Major Khumalo), Logistics Zwafa Ellias Moyo, communications and John Nyampikidza (Lt Col Watson Tshipa), who had just completed his course in an academy.
Rtd Brigadier General Collin Moyo chaired the meeting and new designations of 2 operational front areas were established. The northern front and the Southern front, both with 3 regions each commanded by a regional commander falling under a front commander. From there on the previous designations like BL1, BL2, DK areas etc. ceased to exist. After that he was appointed as the commander of the Northern Front.
He was appointed the front commander in the Northern Front an area spanning from Kazungula to Feira in Mana Pools. The boundary between the two established fronts was the main road from Plumtree to Salisbury now Harare. He commanded a very expansive area comprising 3 independent regions designated Northern Front 1, 2, and 3.
He was a hands-on commander who participated in major operations against the enemy. One that comes to mind is when they attacked the Mana Pools Camp and in this battle, he was injured after he was shot in the arm during the exchange. He survived and went for treatment and was back again. I envied his bravery and he truly had the support of his men. Many ZPRA battles were in his area of operation and under his command, major achievements that led to the independence were noted.
In 1980, after ceasefire he went with his troops to Papa Assembly point, thereafter, he was attested into the National army. He went to 4 Brigade area in a team of ZPRA and ZANLA cadres headed by Brigadier Abel Mazinyani. He was a serving member of Zimbabwe National Army until retirement. During his service, he was to prove his mantle as he received many accolades related to his service. During his time as an instructor, he trained many people including General P. V. Sibanda, Major Gen Nicholas Dube, Brigadier Chancellor Diye and many more who were later to receive higher posts in government. He remained humble until his passing.
Rodwell Nyika (Brigadier General Collin Moyo) a brilliant devoted and principled ZPRA commander was by far a deserving hero, we can liken him to General Zhukov, a Soviet Union division commander during the battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War. He planned all battles that he participated in and that was how Brigadier Gen Collin Moyo was when he wanted to be satisfied that his orders were followed to the letter. The Northern Front was a thorn to the Rhodesian Government such that they feared a major assault as planes were falling off the sky, hence their effort to completely disrupt any form of reinforcements by attacking the rear bases in Zambia. That did not dampen the spirit of commander Rodwell Nyika and his men as some of them were already in Salisbury and outlining areas such as Zvimba, Mhondoro areas and Chihnoyi just west of Harare.
I was to work with him later as my commanding officer, at Mbizo Barracks even though we both had been front commanders during the war and I bear witness to his courageous character in which he displayed moral strength in facing danger or difficulties. He had a refined mental quality of an officer and gentleman. May his family and comrades he worked with take a cue from Brigadier General Collin Moyo whose last words to me on the Christmas day the 25th Dec 2020 were Kolema, a Kalanga word to imply that the situation is difficult in Zimbabwe. These were words that he would not utter during and after the struggle. We have lost a purely dedicated hero of Zimbabwe who would have preferred to see Zimbabwe different from the state it is in now. May his deeds remain with us all as an example of what heroism should entail.
“The best of men cannot suspend their fate unfortunately my Brigadier, the good die early and the bad die late.” Farewell my comrade in arms, may your resting place be endued with flame lily flowers in longevity for our memories.