When someone like Dzinashe Machingura dies we wish we had known them more, much more. We wish he had lived longer and given us more time to get to know him a little more. I had the once in a lifetime chance to talk to him after we started ZUNDE. In his illness and quaky voice he could not hide his excitement. It felt like ZUNDE was the moment he had been waiting for the last 34 years. He had sympathies for the MDC but had never joined them. When we suggested to him that he becomes the leader, he was humbled by it but insisted he leaves it to the younger generation with vibrant minds and fresh ideas. He preferred the National Chairman role instead. What a born leader. To some people, it comes naturally.
I first heard of Comrade Dzino as he was known during the struggle for our independence, from slogans. I was told Dzino had rebelled (akapanduka); that he belonged to the “Vashandi” click of revolutionaries in ZANLA who wanted the revolution be directed and led by the “workers”, to be a proletariat revolution in the language of Vladmir Lenin. Because of that I was told “pasi naye!” (Down with him). It is quite ironic that Zanu can claim to represent workers. The only reason they want to associate with workers is so that they can control them. To prove me wrong let the workers stand-up for freedom and the full venom of Zanu PF will be released against them!
I was confused; wouldn’t anyone be? I had thought rebellion entailed working for the enemy who was Ian Smith and his internal settlement puppets. I could not understand how someone who had been the Supreme ZIPA and ZANLA Commander for years, who had achieved such huge successes in the war, with liberated zones everywhere in Zimbabwe, could be a sell-out, a rebel, for advocating for a Proletariat revolution. Was that not what Marxism said, Marxism that was part of our ideology at the time?
No one told me about how Mugabe with his mafia of nationalists had with the help of Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru) and Tongogara, usurped control of the armed forces from Dzino and his team and took full charge using their credentials as founder members of ZANU. (For this Rex had earned the title of “Kingmaker”). For over 5 years, the boys had secured the North-east (Mt Darwin and Rushinga) area. They had opened the Eastern (Manicaland) front with the coming into power of FRELIMO in Mozambique. Mugabe was in detention and cannot claim credit for it. Dzino was in charge. He was talking to the frontline States, Presidents Kaunda, Nyerere, Samora Machel etc. He prosecuted the war with such dedication and gallantry. Dzino was the man. Mugabe could not stand it and so after his release and had made his way to the camps he put in motion, as he has always done, a plan to gain control of the war machinery. Selfless as Dzino was always, and in good faith he let him. Mugabe was interested in securing control of Zanu PF than in fighting the Smith regime. Mugabe would have killed all the commanders who stood in his way had Samora Machel not come to their rescue and kept them in what was believed to be “detention” until Independence Day in 1980 when Samora flew the boys back home safe and sound. Dzino was never a sell-out. Mugabe was the problem, a power hungry monster.
Rewinding back a couple of years, in the camps, no one could speak or inquire about Vashandi without drawing attention of the Intelligence. Those were issues that no one could discuss freely about. Addington Mukanga, (alia Oliver Chombo) literally pleaded with me once to never say the word again when I had “spoken out of tune” (kurasha muromo) asking what it was Dzino had done wrong. Oliver did not want to see me get hurt. He had been part of the Vashandi group who had escaped serious censure.
Mhanda’s story is the story of the revolution that was high jacked at the last minute by Mugabe. I never saw Mugabe in the camps during the war. I knew Tongogara, Rex Nhongo and Mark Dube (Joshua Misihairabwi). Not Mugabe. He stayed away safe flying around the world as he still does today. Dzino is the typical and true hero of our liberation struggle. He was true and humble. He did not love power for the sake of it like the well-known commander-in-chief of pretenders Robert Mugabe.
May Dzino’s soul rest in everlasting peace.
Judge Ben Paradza –
Interim Vice President ZUNDE