Liberation stalwart David ‘Sharpshoot’ Moyo dies

Renowned former ZPRA warrior who fought gallantly in the liberation movement, David Mongwa Moyo, popularly known as Sharp Shoot, died early Saturday morning at the age of 98.

Moyo, who had been unwell for some time, died at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, where he was receiving treatment for a prostate related problem.

Many veterans will remember Moyo for his superb marksmanship, defiance against colonial settlers, and participation in the battle of Wankie, widely regarded as a watershed battle in the history of Zimbabwe and South Africa’s military liberation struggles.

It was during the Wankie struggle that the ZPRA joined up with Umkhonto WeSizwe under the Luthuli detachment to fight the racist apartheid regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa.

Although Moyo and other former ZPRA freedom fighters played a crucial role in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, they received little recognition when the country attained independence.

It was in December last year that a South African based businessman, Mpumelelo Phiri renovated Moyo’s home in  Emganwini Suburb in recognition of his contribution in the liberation struggle.

In an interview with CITE at Moyo’s home, his widow, Irene Moyo nee Mseza, said the former fighter has been in and out of the hospital since 2019.

“Since 2019, Moyo was fitted with a catheter, which had to be changed regularly. After the last catheter, he began to bleed and his condition deteriorated. The doctor changed it and inserted a small catheter because he couldn’t sit or walk but would cry in pain,” she said.

“We went to the hospital thrice but due to his advanced age, he was not admitted. When he felt sick this time, he was put on drips, given glucose because his sugar was low. His privates had also become swollen.”

Moyo stated she informed Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube, who arranged for him to be transferred to the hospital.

“At the hospital, we were told he had an infection and had to go to the theatre. On Tuesday, he went to the theatre and we expected him to be discharged when he was stable. I had already purchased his prescribed medicine and transport to bring him home. Yesterday, I saw and fed him at the hospital but around 12 midnight, received a phone call about his death,” she said.

The family is currently working out the burial details.

His son, Diliza Moyo, who turns 60 this year, characterised his father as a “hero and a fighter in many battles that he fought.”

“Most prominently was the resistance against colonial rule, to the extent that the Ian Smith regime wanted him dead before I was born,” he said.

Diliza said ZAPU during the ‘Zhi’ movement gave him a motorbike, which he as one of the ‘Zhi’ movement leaders used to move around.

“Of late, my father was now talking about his scooter whenever his memory came back,” he said.

In addition to the name ‘Sharp Shoot’, Diliza said his father was also known as ‘Hunter’ at school.

“At Inyathi Mission, he made some historic feats. As a junior, he beat all of his peers in running, especially the 400 metre race. When he was given the opportunity to challenge the seniors, he prevailed as champion. One day, a rabbit appeared from nowhere and my father chased it until he caught it and became known as Hunter, ” Diliza said.

“As fate would have it, he became the hunted by the Smith regime, so the hunter suddenly became the hunted. When he hunted, he would catch his prey but when he was hunted he was never caught.”

Diliza described how, just before crossing into Zambia, his father and others were ambushed by Rhodesian soldiers but miraculously escaped.

“Having crossed to Zambia, Moyo went for training, he was in the forefront, and wherever he was posted, he excelled. Regrettably, he was hit in the pelvis during the fight of Wankie and has been disabled since 1967. His courageous ZPRA teammates carried him, not wanting him to be captured. Because his pelvis had been pulverised, he was now on crutches.”

Moyo had five children, three of whom passed away.

Diliza stated that three children from his first union, all joined the liberation war.

“The first born, male, joined the struggle, trained and fought in the front until independence. But he was killed by a black man at the assembly points – shot dead in Harare. This was before Gukurahundi but during the ceasefire where there were some upheavals in the camps,” he said and lamented that this issue, the same as Zimbabwe’s history had not been told.

“The second born, female, also joined the struggle, trained and fought in the front. She died after independence.

Diliza said as the third born, he also joined the liberation struggle, crossed to Botswana, then Zambia, moved to  JZ1 camp, then relocated to JZ2 and JZ3.

“After my father’s injury, ZAPU deployed him to Zambia, where he met another woman from Midlands there and had two more boys. Unfortunately, the elder one is late, leaving my younger brother, who was here and only left early this week to Zambia and is now preparing to return.”

Moyo had six grandchildren.

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