ZAPU has been thrown into mourning following the passing of party elder Abraham Dumezweni Nkiwane, (93), whom they described as an international liberator for Southern Africa.
Nkiwane passed away early Tuesday morning from prostate cancer after he had been admitted at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), a few days earlier.
He was the first person to smuggle weapons from Zambia into Southern Rhodesia in 1962.
“Known affectionately as Bro Nkie, Cde Nkiwane pioneered Zimbabwe’s armed struggle for independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s,” said ZAPU national spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa.
Maphosa said Nkiwane’s leadership was recognised by leaders such as the late Zambian president, also founding then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Kenneth Kaunda.
Maphosa noted that Nkiwane also worked with the African National Congress’s military wing- uMkhonto weSizwe, and operated with comrades like Joe Modise both in Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.
“Bro Nkie in 1962 was the very first man to smuggle arms of war into Rhodesia, marking the beginning of what would be the war to liberate Zimbabwe. He was an international liberator for Southern Africa. He also worked and operated with SWAPO of Namibia,” Maphosa said.
Nkiwane was also one of the Zapu officials who were persecuted by the Zanu government after independence.
“A principled man to the core, Bro Nkie never wavered in his support for Zapu; he remained a dedicated member right up to his passing. He was not one to give up the vision of empowerment for all in exchange for the ‘get rich quickly’ corruption that many fell for.”
Maphosa said at one stage, Nkiwane, was once employed in the education sector of the country but was fired from his job.
“He was fired for what the reactionaries termed, ‘involvement in politics,’ a euphemism for anyone opposed to the disastrous course the ruling party was pursuing,” he highlighted.
“I need not mention and narrate Gukurahundi and the pain and suffering that Bro Nkie went through. All is on record.”
The Zapu spokesperson also noted how Nkiwane did not waiver in his beliefs but was a down to earth individual with who people related with.
“Neither did he sacrifice freedom and development of his people by placing his personal comforts before them. He remained steadfast, with and among the ordinary folks, always displaying his commitment to equality, fairness, freedom and justice as ingredients for sustained development of a people,” Maphosa said.
“Bro Nkie with his unflinching commitment to service, freedom, justice, peace and sustainable development is an example to us, that these things do not come free and cheap. He showed us that when these aspirations are achieved, we need to remain alert that they are endangered.”
Maphosa added that through Nkiwane’s teaching, people knew the importance of the armed struggle and fighting for independence.
“Bro Nkie also taught us that sometimes, the bloodshed for our liberation could be the same to defend the resultant freedom. His life was such. He fought for our collective freedom and with the same tenacity that he defended and guarded it,” he said.
“A life committed to and dedicated to Zimbabwe’s and Southern Africa’s freedom. Soldiers never die but take well-deserved rest.”
Nkiwane was born on January 6, 1928, in Ntabazinduna.
He worked for Bulawayo Omnibus Company then moved to Lupane Sawmills limited.
In 1954 he was moved to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) where his political ambitions grew.
Nkiwane leaves behind his wife, Ntombizodwa and three children (two sons and daughter).
Mourners are gathered at Joyful Farm in Umguza District.