The Sunday News
Last week’s introductory instalment attempted to locate Retired Col Tshinga’s profile within the shifting currencies and contexts of our struggle for independence.
His radical political tutelage emanating from the immiserating effect of colonialism informs the significance of his biography, Quiet Flows the Zambezi.
His training in Russia and long service in post-independent Zimbabwe’s Government under the Late Cde Robert Mugabe makes the story of his life a significant asset in the archive of national memory.
There is no doubt that Rtd Col Tshinga’s life is organically tied the struggle for independence and the enduring values which shape the art of governance.
His continued survival in the political theatre since the time of the struggle is illustrative of a profound wit attached to his political self.
His life serves as proof of calculated contributions to the shifting contestations of power. Tshinga Dube clearly brings this out as he chronicles his political survival when the long hand of infiltration was permeating into the nationalist movement.
His reflections on the March 11, 1971 insurgences within Zapu is telling of how he is a survivor of internal contradictions which were bedevilling the nationalist movement.
He gives highlights of how there were disgruntlements in the ranks of the revolutionary movement as a result of the unfair treatment of junior officers by the high command.
This position cues a break-away from commemorative historiography of the armed struggle.
The stance taken by Tshinga explores deep thematic dimensions which go beyond the rhetoric of political correctness.
This contribution to the history of our armed struggle at a more personal level deeply addresses the erstwhile fears of disclosing concealed taboos of history which were avoided by insiders in the armed struggle.
It must be noted that Tshinga Dube’s contribution comes after the passing on of two senior PF Zapu Cadres namely Misheck Ndunazakovelaphi Ncube and Dumiso Dabengwa.
In my analysis of Dr Dumiso Dabengwa’s untimely departure I recollected how:
“I would not blame Dabengwa (the man) for not penning an auto-biography. His aptitude to speak truth to power was limited under the repressive arms of the First Republic.
It only took individuals like Edgar Tekere, Joshua Nkomo, Cephas Msipa and Wilfred Mhanda among others to produce memoirs which provided a critical position on the establishment.
However, it could have been impossible for Dabengwa to do the same considering that he had a direct experience of the state’s fixation to crushing dissent. After all, he lost his dear counterpart Commander Lookout Masuku to the brutality of the state (The Herald, 01 June, 2019). “
I further posited that:
“On the basis of these assumptions, Dabengwa can be exonerated for not leaving us with a memoir for future generations to reflect on the legacy of the nationalist movement through the lens of his contribution to our freedom.
Perhaps, his life story could have exposed some critical accounts of what landed us to the ‘pitfalls of national consciousness’.
It is obvious that this could have been some evil truth to the old system (The Herald, 01 June, 2019).”
The scarcity of written stories of our struggle from key actors of our armed struggle validates this essential contribution as it creates a narrative balance which contrasts “official history”. It must be noted that colonial historians on the other hand have dissuaded our people from telling our story.
Their obsession about the weak points of our unity against colonial has remained at the centre of validating the unconscious validations of self-hate which the African post-colonial has experienced thus far. Therefore, Col Tshinga’s story is grounded on some key highlights of ethnic engineered divisions in the armed struggle.
The problematic fissures of ethnicity have continued to pervade prospects of long lasting peace in our politics.
Reflecting on Gukurahundi
Col Tshinga Dube also visits the emotive subject of Gukurahundi in his biography. He argues that Gukurahundi was a product of divisions in the amalgamation of armies leading to the formation of the Zimbabwe National Army.
In some circles, especially among ex-Zipra combatants, the call for integration was perceived as mischievously colonial hence the ‘dissident’ resistance it received. Some Zapu cadres regarded the call for integration as a subtle preservation of white monopoly to state security.
As a result, this point of dissent had to be crushed as its major proposition was largely Zapu.
The remnants of Rhodesian intelligence were successful in constructing images of hate and division which were later amplified to expressions of ethnic particularism and hence the umbrella purging of the Ndebele as “dissidents”. Likewise, Tshinga Dube situates the crisis of unity in the historical Zapu split which gave birth to Zanu in 1963.
In this memoir, Col Tshinga Dube recommends the need for Government to continue strengthening its efforts in eradicating the innuendoes of disharmony which are peddled by pretenders who thrive on regionalism.
This is because if even before independence, ethnicity has been predominantly manipulated to perpetuate the colonially instigated “divide and rule” strategy.
Our academic and political discourse have been largely characterised by warring perspectives of national belonging.
To this end, colonial regional divides have also been used as emblematic justifications for the propagations of secession politics.
At the same time, Government efforts to promote inclusive nationalism have also suffered internal and opposition sabotage owing weak ideological persuasion and commitment to values of national unity.
Reactionary historiography has also played a critical role in framing divisive imaginations of national belonging, save to say that the early independence insurgence of 1982 to 1987 has been conveniently manipulated to maintain selective memoirs to misguided entitlement by racist and tribal intellectuals.
Consequently, the punitive thrust to the Gukurahundi crisis has deployed ethnicity as an enabling pedestal for secessionist politics.
Therefore, it becomes encouraging when former PF-Zapu forerunners like Cde Tshinga Dube take the lead in exposing the hidden hand of imperialism in facilitating conflicts which have kept us divided as a people.
Tshinga Dube’s contribution defies the circumvent polemic and punitive logic clumsily touted to frustrate the long aspired values of Black on Black peace and reconciliation terms.
If we managed to dispense with the White on Black peace and reconciliation issues why are we stuck in the impasse of feuds with a meagre atrocious input to the capital dismemberment of Africa by colonialists?
Because they fund us to fight our Governments at the behest of our false projections of prospects to political reform?
Therefore, the contribution by Tshinga Dube is a call for the unity of our people. The author is not too selfish to give a glossy rendition of his exploits, but he mirrors the story of a nation through his sacrifice for independence.
In the last chapter he takes the reader through some intimate details of the processes which gave birth to Operation Restore Legacy in November 2017.
Therefore, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding some hidden operations which occurred leading to the resignation of the Former President, Cde Robert Mugabe (May His Soul Rest In Power).
Richard Mahomva is a political science and literature aficionado interested in architecture of governance in Africa and political theory. Feedback: [email protected]