OPINION | Rugare Gumbo: ‘We know who our true heroes are’

Heroes Acre: 'Today’s ZANU PF is a far cry from the Chitepo Dare'

By Rugare Gumbo

We have learned with sorrow and sadness of the death of Cde Mukudzei Mudzi (94) the former Executive Secretary (General Secretary) of Dare reChimurenga of ZANU.

Cde Mudzi’s death followed that of Cde Moton Malianga (91). The two were genuine war veterans. Our prayers and thoughts are with them. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

Cde Mudzi and Cde Malianga were pioneers of the national liberation struggle, first as nationalists in Zimbabwe and later as guerrilla leaders outside the country. Malianga played a pivotal role in the formation of all the major political parties from National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960, the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) in 1962 and later the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1963.

I first met Malianga in 1962 in Salisbury Prison where we were jailed under the Law and Order Maintenance Act with Simon Muzenda, E. Dembedza, Goodson Sithole and others.

When ZANU and PCC were banned in August 1964, Malianga was detained in Salisbury, Gweru and Connemara detention centres. In 1974 he was one of the seven coup plotters against Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole in favour of Robert Mugabe at Connemara Prison.

In November that year, he accompanied Mugabe for the abortive talks with frontline state leaders in Lusaka, Zambia. Mugabe and Malianga were dismissed and sent back to Zimbabwe when frontline leaders decided that Sithole was the legitimate leader of ZANU. He was released from prison in December 1974 when all Zimbabwean nationalists were released by the Ian Smith regime under the Zimbabwe Unity Accord.

Malianga remained in the country until independence in 1980 and held several ministerial posts in the new government. When he retired, he lived in abject poverty with little support from the party or the government.

Mukudzei Mudzi was an instrumental member of the Herbert Chitepo Architect Team that laid the foundation of ZANLA and was also a leader of ZANU’s external wing as Executive Secretary from 1971-1976 in Lusaka, Zambia.  

Unrecognised: struggle stalwart Mukudzei Mudzi

Mudzi represented a rare breed of young students who sacrificed the comfort and benefits of student life that accrued to Africans who had achieved high academic and professional qualifications to join Herbert Chitepo, Henry Hamadziripi, Noel Mukono and others to wage war against the colonial settlers from 1964-1966.

From there, he rose through the ranks of the party to become a member of the revolutionary council and then a member of Dare reChimurenga in 1971 and 1973.

Mudzi will always be remembered for his honesty, humility, selflessness and strict adherence to the party line and discipline. His faithfulness and sincerity were recognised by the leadership and the entire party, and they entrusted him with the resources of the movement and handling the party’s funds. He never took anything for himself and if anything was needed he would even dig into his personal pockets to support the movement.

Chitepo, Hamadziripi, Mukono and even Josiah Tongogara relied entirely on Mudzi’s stewardship and integrity.

“Mudzi is another one on the long list of our true National Heroes who have not been recognised…”

In retrospect, we now recognise that the British imperial power was always unforgiving of all true stalwarts of the revolution and we believe that the imperial power set in motion forces that would eliminate the true leadership of the struggle and replace them with acceptable personalities.

We honestly do not know whether the frictions that we experienced in Zambia and Mozambique were wittingly or unwittingly effected against Chitepo and the remnants of his leadership by Mugabe. But they resulted in the brief detentions of the whole Dare in Zambia, the incarceration of ZIPA commanders in Mozambique and, later on, the incarceration of the whole of Chitepo’s Dare and its senior commanders by Mugabe after a kangaroo court in Chimoio that saw Mudzi and others sentenced to death by Mugabe.

That sentence was never carried out, because the frontline states led by Julius Nyerere demanded the immediate release of the Chitepo leadership remnant.

Gumbo: ‘Robert Mugabe built a foundation of greed and self-centeredness’

Today, Mudzi becomes another one on the long list of our true National Heroes who have not been recognised as such by the ruling regime.

These include:

  • Henry Hamadziripi (Member of Dare reChimurenga)
  • Noel Mukono (Member of Dare reChimurenga)
  • Mathias Gurira (Chief Protocol Officer and Member of Dare reChimurenga)
  • Cletus Chigohwe (National Security and Intelligence)
  • Joseph Chimurenga (Member of High Command, Field Commander Mozambique Front)
  • Wilfred ‘Dzino’ Mhanda (High Command ZANLA Commissar)
  • Saul Sadza-Magaya (High Command and Administration)
  • James Nyikadzinashe (High Command, Security and Intelligence)
  • Baya-Chihota (Commander Military Headquarters Mozambique)
  • Chimedza (High Command)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the leadership and rank-and-file comrades who gave their all for the liberation of Zimbabwe, but have been denied recognition and support from the party and the regime.

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All these comrades survived into independent Zimbabwe with the exception of Sadza, Baya and Chimedza who died just before independence. But the common thread linking all of them is that they were neither recognised nor supported by the Mugabe regime.

The families of those that died just before independence never received any support at all and were refused livelihood up until they died.

Mudzi and a ‘distorted history’

I also take this opportunity, while mourning Cde Mukudzei Mudzi, to draw attention to the distorted history of the liberation of Zimbabwe that presents the masses who sacrificed and their fighters as benefiting from independence.

The Mugabe regime conflated the party and the state to serve the individual interests of an elite group driven by personal greed and political careerism. The character of today’s ZANU PF is a far cry from the ideals and true leadership of the Chitepo Dare, High Command, General Staff, and rank-and-file that are Chitepo’s legacy.

It reflects only Robert Mugabe and what he built on a foundation of greed and self-centeredness.

Many of us who remain are deeply disturbed by the shabby, hypocritical, and discriminatory treatment of genuine war veterans, in particular members of the Chitepo leadership, and how they are never awarded National Hero status.

They say that history is written by the victors, but we know who our true heroes are.


Rugare Gumbo was Secretary of Information in the Dare ReChimurenga, and is its last surviving member. He served in various capacities in the Zimbabwe government and in ZANU PF