President Mnangagwa, a life of struggle, sacrifice and service
Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa
Yesterday on the occasion of his 81st birthday celebrations at State House, His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa narrated the story of his life.
Here is a man who was born some 81 years ago in Zvishavane to peasant farmers Mafidi Mnangagwa and Mhurai. Mafidi the father was a son to Mubengo / Kushanduka a warrior who served in Mzilikhazi’s regiments.
It is Kashanduka/ Mubengo who named his grandson Nhlupeko, a Ndebele name which Mafidhi, the father, translated to the Karanga name Dambudzo.
According to President ED Mnangagwa’s narration he named himself Emmerson after he read a book with a character Emmerson.
While at Hodgson college in Zambia, he was involved in student politics and was a member of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Youth league structures as early as 1959. Together with fellow youth members they protested against colonial administration and were expelled from school.
He worked at the UNIP Headquarters in Zambia Lusaka where Zimbabwe nationalists frequented. Since he was the only UNIP member who could speak Shona, ChiChewa and English he became a go between ZAPU officials from Zimbabwe and UNIP officials.
One of ZAPU leaders whom he interfaced with was the late Willie Musarurwa who recruited the then young ED to join ZAPU. ZAPU organised military training for the new recruits briefly at Iringa in Tanzania and Egypt. While in Egypt, back home in Zimbabwe there were contradictions in the nationalist ZAPU resulting in the formation of splinter group under the leadership of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole.
The group of students in Egypt also split into two groups with some supporting the leadership of Dr Nkomo and the other group fully supporting the new splinter group. President ED supported the newly formed ZANU. They returned from Egypt and proceeded for another military training in China under ZANU.
On their return they were deployed in different areas of Rhodesia to conduct sabotage missions against the racist colonial administration. Unfortunately President ED was betrayed by some of his colleagues and escaped death sentence due to young age.
Instead he was sentenced to 10 years in prison as a D class. He utilised his time in prison to further his studies through distance learning.
He served at Khami Prison in solitary confinement. Upon his release he went to independent Zambia where he stayed with the Cde Tongogara and eventually ended up in Mozambique where he was elected Special Assistant to the late RG Mugabe. He was also responsible for Intelligence and Security.
Post Independence, he occupied many positions in government from State Security, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Acting Minister of Finance, Speaker of Parliament, Rural, Housing and Social Ammenities, Defence, Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Here is a veteran of Zimbabwe’s politics, a master of statecraft, a polished leader. With this history, it will be foolhardy for anyone to underestimate this grandmaster of Zimbabwe’s politics. Those who want to lead should take a que from this decorated veteran who started his political journey in 1959 and only became President decades later. Long live Cde President! We remain inspired!