The death on Sunday afternoon of Zephaniah Maiwana Nkomo, a former ZPRA intelligence officer and director of ZAPU’s history documentation centre, Mafela Trust, has been described as a big blow to both the party and its military wing.
Nkomo, who worked closely with the late ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa, died aged 69 at private health facility in Bulawayo where he had been admitted.
“This is so sad; his death is a big blow to both the party and ZPRA,” ZAPU director of communications, Patrick Ndlovu, told CITE.
“He was still documenting a number of ZPRA issues that have remained undocumented. Since it had been agreed that the vetting process be redone, Nkomo was one of the persons with records and we had hoped he would assist. So many ZPRA cadres were not vetted because of discrimination.”
He said Nkomo was an automatic national hero considering the level at which he operated during the liberation.
“He should not be declared a national hero, he is a national hero,” said Ndlovu.
“This issue of declaration is what has compromised the hero status of people. It is unfortunate that many people for political reasons are not recognised.”
He added that the late Mafela Trust director was one of the 86 people who were arrested with Dabengwa during the liberation struggle, adding he served four years without trial.
Family spokesperson, Mandla Nkomo, dispelled rumours that the deceased succumbed to Covid-19.
“I know there have been rumours to the effect that he succumbed to this disease (Covid-19) which has claimed many people,” he said.
“But what I want to explain is that upon admission to hospital last week he tested negative for Covid. He tested negative again as he was being transferred to another hospital. He passed away while admitted to Corporate 24 Hospital.”
Nkomo said as family members, they were still organising themselves to begin burial preparations adding arrangements would be announced in due course.
The late Zephaniah Maiwana Nkomo was born in Ntoli Communal Lands in the then Bulilima-Mangwe District on 1 May 1951.
He did his primary schooling at the local Ntoli Primary School, up to Standard 6, after which he moved to Bulawayo’s Msitheli Secondary School where he did his O’ Levels.
After completing his O levels he found employment at the Supersonic factory in Bulawayo. However the call to join the liberation struggle became too strong, in 1977, resulting in him joining the struggle in Zambia.
“Cde Zeph Nkomo was a humble, diligent, resourceful, tolerant, and respectful cadre who devoted his life to documenting the story and legacy of ZPRA,” said political analyst and journalist Methuseli Moyo.
“The work he was coordinating was very big. He was never tired. He visited every newsroom in Bulawayo to get journalists to understand and write about the role of ZPRA. I doubt Zimbabwe will ever get someone like him.”
More messages of condolences continued to pour on social media,Monday, following the departure of the ZAPU and ZPRA icon.
Meanwhile, the family has also generated an online link https://www.remembr.com/zephaniah.nkomo through which members of the public can convey their condolences.