Mkhululi Sibanda, Assistant Editor
A senior war veteran who was incarcerated with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the then notorious Khami Maximum Prison during the colonial era, Cde George Moyo has described the country’s new Head of State as a warm hearted man who transcends ethnicity and is always ready to assist anyone.
Cde Moyo (75), a former Zipra combatant was captured by the Rhodesian forces in 1968 in the Hwange area and heavily tortured before he was sentenced to 20 years in prison and thrown into Khami Maximum Prison where he met President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa, a member of the famously known Zanla unit, the Crocodile Gang in the 1960s had been imprisoned for among other military operations the bombing of a goods train in Masvingo. In an interview with Sunday News, Cde Moyo described President Mnangagwa as an unflinching nationalist ready to serve all Zimbabweans.
“My message to the people of Matabeleland is that you should embrace the leadership of President Mnangagwa ngoba lo ngumkhokheli woqotho. He is going to do amazing things for this country. He is a down to earth person who does not discriminate people despite their geographical origins,” said Cde Moyo.
“I say this from experience. He has assisted me and other people from Matabeleland when we had problems. If one presents his or her personal problem to Cde Mnangagwa he quickly takes it as his. I remember after my contract expired at the now defunct Stewards and Lloyds in Kwekwe. I was touched by the concern he exhibited towards me. What happened was that after my contract had expired in 1991, I went to the Stewards and Lloyds offices and when I got there I was told that the workers were in a meeting with a Cabinet Minister. I waited and when they came out I then saw Cde Mnangagwa and I was surprised that he still remembered me. He asked what I was doing at the company offices to which I told him that I had come to check whether my contract had been renewed. He then called the manager of the company and told him that we spent a number of years together at Khami and were comrades during the war.”
Cde Moyo said the general manager then asked him to join him in his office.
“I then went into the manager’s office and I was told to go and bring my particulars. When I got out of the office I was surprised to find Cde Mnangagwa waiting for me. He asked what had happened and I told him that they said I should bring my particulars the following day,” he said.
“He told me that if my contract was not renewed then I should travel to Harare and meet him. He said he would organise a job for me. He then gave me some money for bus fare and it was a lot of money as it also covered other expenses that I might have had. However, the following day I was given a permanent job and there was no need to travel to Harare. I’m not the only one who has been helped by President Mnangagwa, I mean people from this part of the country. Richard Ncube who also read law like President Mnangagwa while we were at Khami got a job in Harare after getting assistance from him as well.”
Cde Moyo remembers the warm hug he got from President Mnangagwa at a Zanu-PF rally in the run-up towards the 2013 elections.
“To show how humble he is he came to me and told those around that ‘undoda lo sasisonke empini’. He does not look down upon people. He has empathy and does not discriminate. At White City he urged me to always look for him and not be shy to ask for assistance when I have problems,” he said.
Commenting about the humiliation President Mnangagwa went through during the Youth Interface rallies at the hands of former First Lady, Mrs Grace Mugabe, Cde Moyo said he was not surprised to see Cde Mnangagwa keeping his cool as he is endowed with stoic philosophy.
“He is very patient and is endowed with emotional intelligence. That is why he did not show any emotion because he can keep his cool. If he was weak emotionally he could have lost it during those rallies. He is always cool even in the face adversity, a quality many people lack. Having such a character is a sign of good leadership,” said Cde Moyo.
“Even when we were in prison some of us were rabble rousers but President Mnangagwa was always cool, showing a lot of patience. When he made a decision it was spot on. He and Moffat Ndlovu also read a lot. As for the development of Matabeleland, people should not worry. He set the tone with irrigation projects when he was the Vice-President. At Arda Maphisa in Kezi I have been reading in the newspapers that now there are silos because of good production there. He has been visiting that scheme regularly to check on production and the same has happened at Jotsholo in Lupane as well as Ingwizi in Mangwe District.”
Cde Moyo said some of the freedom fighters they served together with at Khami were Cdes Kembo Mohadi, Moffat Ndlovu, a former Bulawayo Town Clerk, Moffat Hadebe, the late Richard Ncube, Kenny Ndlovu and Rhodes Moyo, all from the Zipra side. From the Zanla side besides President Mnangagwa were Cdes Lloyd Gundu, Shadreck Chipanga, the former Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation and Horrace Nyazika among others.
“We also had Umkhonto Wesizwe comrades like Ralph Mzamo who became a general after South Africa attained their independence in 1994,” he said.
Cde Moyo whose pseudo name was Mjomba, a Swahili word for uncle was born in Tsholotsho District’s Bhemba area on 1 January 1942. His family then moved to Zambia in 1953 where they settled in Chief Mungure’s area, a few kilometres from Lusaka. He joined the armed struggle in 1967 and was trained at Morogoro Camp where the late Cde Albert Nxele was the camp commander. He was deployed to the front immediately after completing training in 1968 before his capture in the Hwange area.