ZAPU has mourned the untimely departure of Mafela Trust director, Zephaniah Nkomo, Sunday afternoon, describing him as one of the “finest soldiers from the liberation struggle.
The director of Mafela Trust, a ZAPU and ZPRA history documentation centre, passed on at the age of 69 at a private hospital in Bulawayo.
“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the untimely departure of one of the people’s finest soldiers from the liberation struggle,” said ZAPU spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa, in a statement.
“Comrade Zephaniah was a Russian trained intelligence officer of the National Security and Order (NSO), who offered distinguished service to ZAPU and ZPRA during the liberation struggle. After independence, Cde Zwe continued as head of ZAPU security department.” Maphosa said it was unfortunate that like the rest of ZPRA fighters, his immense contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe was never acknowledged or recognised by the powers that took over after the war.
“A humble man by nature, he never went about boasting about his contribution to the armed liberation struggle,” said Maphosa.
“However, his closeness to and trust bestowed upon him by the late President (Dumiso) Dabengwa spoke volumes about how highly regarded in the intelligence circles of the ZPRA’s NSO. His selection to head Mafela Trust, whose role is to document ZAPU and ZPRA history gave further evidence of the trust ZAPU and ZPRA had in him.”
Nkomo, Maphosa said, is an unquestionable hero of the liberation struggle who refused to be drafted into Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) by the late former president Robert Mugabe, whom he said wanted only to abuse his skills for the purpose of persecuting ZAPU and ZPRA.
“He (Nkomo) would later be punished for the snub when he was falsely accused of trying to assassinate Mugabe and served four years of detention without trial in Zimbabwe’s notorious prisons,” explained Maphosa.
“He was tortured but upon release; there was no reason given for his incarceration or apology for the wrongful arrest and the terrible treatment he received. The words of the late (ZAPU) president (Joshua) Nkomo apply equally to Cde Zwe as they did to Comrade Masuku: “You don’t give a man the status of a hero. All you can do is recognise it. It is his.” His deeds and choices, Maphosa further explained, made during his tumultuous life entitled him to the status of “best among the brave.”
“It is unfortunate Comrade Zephaniah died just when ZPRA was just about to break through in the lobby to have its veterans who had been denied their rightful pensions and other benefits for the selfless contributions made towards the liberation of Zimbabwe,” said Maphosa.
“His deep knowledge would have helped in the pending exercise. We convey our deepest condolences to Mama Thoko Nkomo, children and family. Our sorrow is extended to the ZAPU, ZPRA family and especially the Mafela Trust, CITE and all who worked with our comrade in different spheres of life. To the people of Zimbabwe, a void has been created and it will be difficult if not impossible to fill it.”
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.