AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL FORMER ZIPRA CADRES
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE MTHWAKAZI LIBERATION FRONT
Churchill Mpiyesizwe Guduza (Taffy Carlos, nom de guerre)
13 December, 2020
Greetings to you all!
2020 has been a very challenging year. Many people lost their loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic and others fell ill due to it. But probably the worst impact of the pandemic was its socio-economic disruptions. I have heard many stories of friends and relatives not being allowed to visit their loved ones in hospitals and families not allowed to view the bodies of their departed. To imagine someone dying alone without loved ones because of restrictions is so traumatic.
Millions lost their jobs; and their livelihoods and the livelihoods of those of others dependent on them are now precarious. But humanity has been able to persevere. Within a year scientists have been able to come up with what appear to be credible different vaccines to push back the coronavirus. This shows the unconquerable nature of the human spirit; that even in the midst of a gloomy outlook, a lot of good can still be done.
On my part, I was able to finalise my book which has been recently published. The book is titled The Trials and Tribulations of a ZIPRA soldier. The book was published in Cameroon by Langaa Research and Publishing Common Initiative Group; and is being distributed worldwide by African Books Collective. I am very excited that at long last my story is out there for everyone to read. The book covers my birth in South Africa and my growing up in South Africa and Rhodesia; and it chronicles my journey in joining ZIPRA in Zambia, undergoing military training in Angola as part of the first ever conventional ZIPRA battalion; my deployment to the front and the battles that my unit fought all the way from Binga right through Lupane and finally Tsholotsho.
Yet the book also covers the fight by myself and my colleagues against internal ZIPRA injustices. But the story does not end there. The story of my near death experiences at the hands of the Gukurahundi vampires and my arrest and torture at Stops Camp in Bulawayo is also told. And so is the story of my participation in the planning of Joshua’s Nkomo’s escape to exile and my own eventual escape to Botswana and finally the United Kingdom. But there is a lot more that is contained in the book. I urge all of you to read it and to share it with your families.
I am writing this open letter to you all in my capacity as an ex-ZIPRA soldier, and also in my current capacity as the President of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF). I have been compelled to write to you, wherever you are, because it is about time I did so. Failure to do so would further damage the historic mission of liberating our people from all forms of shackles of domination, subjugation and humiliation, from whatever quarter. Perhaps the first question that I need to pose to you is: what is it to be a ZIPRA cadre/guerrilla/soldier?
Those who were truly trained by ZIPRA, or its predecessor, the Special Affairs Department, should be able to answer this question, even nearly 41 years after ZIPRA was decimated and destroyed as a vehicle for the liberation of our people. Those who can answer it would know that ZIPRA long died as that kind of tool or vehicle. As a matter of fact, ZIPRA died, ceased to exist from the minute that it was rounded up into various concentration camps called the Assembly Points, under the auspices of the authority of the so-called Lancaster House Settlement, whose implementation was championed by the colonial power, Britain, led by Lord Soames in 1980.
Since then, ZIPRA ceased to exist, except in the realm of semantics. Those who have since formed themselves into so-called ZIPRA forums, groupings and the like, are not different from comical characters designed to enthuse and entertain kindergarten kids. Yet even such characters are more real on screen than the real comical ex-ZIPRA cadres/guerrillas/soldiers. Take the character of Spiderman, for example, it projects some heroic efforts of saving lives against the onslaught of evil in those imagined locations.
Those who were trained by ZAPU as ZIPRA would know that our historic mission was to liberate our people (the masses) from all forms of colonialism and slavery. That was the only mission of being a ZIPRA fighter and that is the only definition of being a ZIPRA cadre/guerrilla/soldier. But ZIPRA surrendered that mission in 1980, which immediately led to its death. It was in pursuit of ZAPU’s mission that thousands of real ZIPRA guerrillas, not some of the fake ones we see today, paid the ultimate price with their lives.
Let me be clear for the sake of history. We have today people who masquerade as ZIPRA heroes yet they have been the biggest sellouts who were recruited by ZANU-PF as early as 1980. Some of them were rewarded with officer ranks in the military at a time when their people were being butchered, slaughtered, raped, bayoneted alive to kill their unborn babies, buried alive in mine shafts and various other mass graves. Where were these clowns when their top commanders Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa were languishing in Prison? Where were these clowns when Joshua Nkomo was being hunted down as if he was a rabid dog? Where were these clowns when their people were being raped and killed daily? These are the same people who still behave as if they are former ZIPRA by the day yet at night they are surrogates of the oppressor – the ZANU-PF-ZANLA complex.
Some of these clowns even organised a million men march in support of their master, annihilator of their people, Robert Mugabe and his entire ZANU-PF cabal, while their people were humiliated through untold brutality. Yet a lot more of these clowns participated in land invasions to benefit not their people, but their masters in ZANU-PF. And some have even been involved in political and electoral violence, raping, torturing and killing their own people on behalf of ZANU-PF.
Please note that I can go on and on about the so-called ZIPRA. So, does it exist? Not at all, only in the imagination of these comical characters who masquerade as ZIPRA. The ZIPRA that I know and which trained me was a principled one that adhered to its revolutionary mission and principles of liberating and defending its people, the masses. This ZIPRA is a fake one, comprised of people who were commissioned by their master, the ZANU-PF regime, as majors, captains, brigadiers, generals and all those fake military ranks which have no meaning and effect in real life.
The ZIPRA that I know, of which I was one of its bravest, is long dead. It was a fearsome ZIPRA that made Smith to admit that “it was the finest military organization ever to be assembled by Africans”. What Smith did not know however, was that it was commanded by whiskey commanders based in Lusaka, who had no idea of what was happening inside the country. The ZIPRA that I know was then comprised of brave fighters who prosecuted the struggle alone against all odds, without any senior commanders on the battlefields. No wonder, the ZIPRA senior commanders were outsmarted so easily by the cousins of Cecil Rhodes at Lancaster House while they were busy enjoying their whiskey to the point where they gave up the liberation war. No wonder again that, such commanders could not stand up to Joshua Nkomo when he disarmed ZIPRA, only for it and its people, the masses, to be punished with genocide and ethnic cleansing by the new colonial power, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime.
The ZIPRA that I know and of which I was part would not tolerate this nonsense of humiliation, subjugation and domination from any other quarter. The ZIPRA that I know would not have allowed its properties to be seized by the current colonialists without a fight to get them back and prevail. The ZIPRA that I know was never constituted by comical characters, such as are congregating in filthy bars, listening to fake stories told by fake Generals.
The ZIPRA that I know would have given leadership and focus to the struggle for Mthwakazi, and enlighten those equally comical characters who preach Mthwakazi, but want to sit in the parliament of their masters. The ZIPRA that I know, would have long by now convinced those other similar comedians calling themselves ZAPU, that Zimbabwe belongs to the Shona people, period!
How can people in this day and age seek to try and convince a warrior nation like Mthwakazi to be a minority in Zimbabwe? Are such people not agents of destruction and of the ZANU-PF regime? Are they not paid by their master ZANU-PF to dilute and confuse the struggle for Mthwakazi? Why do they conduct themselves as though they were in a beauty contest simply wanting to be known, when everything they possess in their heads is rotten to the bone?
The ZIPRA that I know was trained to liberate the masses, not to cherish “wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality and politics without principle”. That is the ZIPRA that I know, not the one that today sings Joshua Nkomo’s praises when they could not defend their Commander-in Chief; not the one whose former Chief of Military Operations, Jevana Maseko (Enock Tshangane, nom de guerre) was busy bootlicking Robert Mugabe when his colleagues, Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa were languishing in prison; and Nkomo was running away from his country of birth chased by the very arms that he surrendered to ZANU-PF.
Please note that not all people who participate in a revolution become revolutionaries. Only a few reach that milestone by simply adhering to the teachings and philosophy of their organization, in this case, ZAPU, whose mandate was to liberate the masses. That was never achieved, and today it remains a challenge. Therefore, those calling themselves ZIPRA this and ZIPRA that, must stop being comedians and wake up and smell the coffee. Our people remain in chains and they need you to lead them not in forums, but by challenging the colonial power based in Harare with all means necessary to achieve that goal. Even those who came playing radios from Libya, it is never too late to participate in the liberation of your people.
My final word is that we need you. Stop being comedians and liberate your people. Life is too short. Soon we shall also be gone. ZAPU was never about Joshua Nkomo. It was about the people. ZAPU’s mission was never achieved and it cannot be achieved under the old banner. Nkomo is long gone and he was the first to recognize that he together with his comrades played their part, but that it was now up to us to play ours. There is no use worshipping him now that he is dead, buried in a grave that we have never seen and will never see. Like in any struggle, the conditions necessitate an aggressive renewal of the historic mission of liberating our people in Mthwakazi.
Those in Zimbabwe were liberated in 1980, nearly 41 years ago. It is therefore high time that we prioritized the liberation of those still under chains, our people, the people of Mthwakazi and stop playing fake ZIPRA games. ZIPRA is dead, permanently. Ayisavuki! But ZIPRA’s death did not come as a surprise because it was a project aimed at liberating Zimbabwe, not our people. No wonder we were not even inducted on our own history, but the history of other nations.
I thank you,