Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu of Filabusi who died this Saturday morning at the age of 86 should be declared a national hero, for his role in fighting the colonial Rhodesian government and principled stance against oppression and marginalisation.
Chief Maduna faced torture from the colonial regime, which affected his wellbeing and was recovering from a stroke he suffered in August 2019.
He was one of the unsung heroes of the country’s liberation struggle, which earned him years in detention for his involvement in the nationalist movement.
Chief Maduna was also vocal about the Gukurahundi atrocities that occurred in the 1980s and even lobbied the United Nations to set up a special commission to investigate the mass killings, after writing a damning letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa urging him to resolve the matter.
Secretary General of pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo, told CITE the country has lost an illustrious chief whose counsel, wisdom and leadership would be missed.
“Undoubtedly, he is a national hero. Maduna’s courageous leadership dates back to the days of the liberation against the settler regime, he led his people from the front against the Rhodesian government,” he said.
“He remained unmoved by the threat on his life and the withdrawal of privileges by the Smith regime, his heroic acts inspired his people, surrounding areas and the nation at large to join the liberation struggle.”
Fuzwayo also praised Chief Maduna’s commitment to defend people against abuse that was also perpetrated by the government.
The activist said Chief Maduna’s exemplary leadership and wealth of wisdom would be needed more now when Zimbabwe continues to search for truth and peaceful solution to the Gukurahundi genocide.
“His desire to see finality to the Gukurahundi genocide was evident in our several engagements. As Ibhetshu LikaZulu we commit to pick up the spear and struggle on. We believe as Chief Maduna did that true peace and reconciliation is central to national prosperity. We are gravely concerned that genocide survivors continue to depart while government prefers window dressing than victim centred solution of this national tragedy,” he said.
Social and cultural activist, Bernard Magugu described the paramount chief, as “the face of human rights, face of culture,”not only for Matabeleland and Midlands people but the whole of Zimbabwe.
“Chief Maduna spoke about the cultural rights fearlessly along the likes of former Ntabazinduna Chief, Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, he knew without the installation of a Ndebele king, cultural rights of the people were incomplete,” Magugu said.
“The Chief knew white colonialists destroyed the Ndebele kingdom and after independence, the black government came in and adopted that system where chiefs fell under the local government ministry instead of having them reporting to the king.”
Leader of the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), Mqondisi Moyo, concurred said Chief Maduna’s death was a sad chapter to people of Matabeleland.
“The chief always narrated his contributions during the liberation struggle where he spent much of his time in Khami Prison and other prisons. He narrated how some AK rifles were hid behind his home during the liberation struggle and that the colonial regime failed to ocate them. He further narrated the abuse on him by the current Zanu PF government,” he said.
Moyo claimed Chief Maduna was also unhappy with the unfaithfulness of some of the country’s leaders.
“Chief Maduna informed us that soon after the coup, General Constantine Chiwenga and his crew visited him and asked for his advise on who would be a good candidate from Matabeleland for the Vice presidency representing Zanu PF government under Mnangagwa. Out of honest, he raised the name of Simon Khaya Moyo, a suggestion appreciated by Chiwenga and his crew and assured him Moyo was going to be the next Vice president. When news that the wise Chief had suggested SK Moyo to be the next Vice president filtered to SK Moyo, he was overjoyed and delivered a nice car to Chief Vezi Maduna as a thank you,” alleged the MRP leader.
“Chiwenga and his crew wanted to test the Chief as they settled for Kembo Mohadi , much to the disappointment of the Chief who said to me, ‘if they had chosen their own person why come to him for consultation.’”
Moyo recalled how Chief Maduna was vocal about locals losing land and mines to outsiders including Chinese nationals.
“To the Insiza Community, friends and relatives we say MRP is mourning with you. We have lost a fighter, we have lost a selfless Chief, we will continue to fight for his wishes and aspirations as he reaffirmed his position on the stance taken by us on the restoration agenda of Mthwakazi, as he said this was the only permanent solution to the woos of Mthwakazi,” he claimed.