Ludwig von Gress
Comrade Nkomo was mentioned here yesterday (Nothing New Under the Sun – 4th September 1978) in connection with successful downing of the Rhodesia Airlines Viscount (Flight 825). Shortly thereafter, on 12 February 1979, the terrorists under his control (ZIPRA) shot down another Rhodesian civilian Viscount (Flight 827), killing all 59 on board. Due to amnesty laws passed by both Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe no one has been brought to trial… (as nobody will be brought to trial for downing the Malaysian aircraft MH17 in Ukraine)
Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo (1917 – 1999) had many nicknames, including “Father Zimbabwe” and “Chibwechitedza” (the slippery rock). After his primary schooling he studied carpentry and thus become a driver. He later tried animal husbandry, and became a schoolteacher specialising in carpentry. In 1942 he went to South Africa to further his education, do carpentry and qualify to a higher level. At the Jan H. Hofmeyr School of Social Work in South Africa he met Nelson Mandela. Returning to Rhodesia in 1947, “he became a trade unionist for black railway workers and rose to the leadership of the Railway Workers Union and then to leadership of the African National Congress in 1952. In 1960 he became president of the National Democratic Party, which was later banned by the Rhodesian government. He also became one of Rhodesia’s wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs.”
In 1960 Robert Mugabe joined him in the National Democratic Party (NDP). After the NDP was banned, it was replaced by the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), and also immediately banned. ZAPU split in 1963.
Together with other fellow rebels, including Robert Mugabe, Nkomo was detained at Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp between 1964 and 1974. Following his release, he went to Zambia to organise armed resistance to the Rhodesian government. “Unlike ZANU’s armed wing – the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army –, ZAPU’s armed wing – the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army – was dedicated to both guerrilla warfare and conventional warfare. At the time of independence ZIPRA had a modern military, stationed in Zambia and Angola, consisting of Soviet-made Mikoyan fighters, tanks and armoured personnel carriers.” It also counted in its number at least three companies of South African African National Congress terrorists.
Naturally, Joshua Nkomo was not considered a nice person by the Rhodesian government, and even more so after those two destroyed aeroplanes. The Selous Scouts were to assassinate him, but something went wrong, or rather, nothing went right. Lt. Col. Ron Reid Daly in his book Selous Scouts – Top Secret War mentions a possibility of Nkomo being warned either by British or Soviet intelligence. Then the Rhodesian Special Air Service tried. They destroyed Nkomo’s residence in Lusaka and killed everybody therein, but Nkomo was not there. BBC in August 2011 reliably reported by that Nkomo had been tipped off by the British government.
Sordid behaviour of the British government in Rhodesia in 1965 – 1979 is well known and the Lancaster House agreement in cowardice and treachery easily matched the Munich one.
“Britain persuaded all parties to come to Lancaster House in September 1979 to work out a constitution and the basis for fresh elections. Mugabe and Nkomo shared a delegation, called the Patriotic Front (PF), at the negotiations chaired by Lord Carrington. Elections were held in 1980 and to the surprise of Nkomo but few others, the Common Roll vote split on predictable tribal lines, with the 20 seats in Matabeleland going to ZAPU and all but three of the sixty in predominantly Shona areas falling to Mugabe’s ZANU.”
Beside the tribal divide there was an “ideological” or better a neo-colonial one. Mugabe, based in Mozambique, was financed, supplied and directed by the Communist Chinese. Nkomo, based in Zambia, was financed, supplied and directed by the Communist Russia.
The British behaviour, in retrospect, seems to have been against their own interests. But which British? Left-leaning politicians? The Left infested public service? Or was it just a spite, resentment and plain envy of healthy, wealthy and happy Rhodesians by the pasty-faced, smog-dulled Britons? Or perhaps the ex-Rhodesian I talked to was right when he suggested that the betrayal comes to the British naturally.
Later Mugabe appointed Nkomo was appointed as minister without portfolio, but in 1982 he accused him of plotting a coup d’état. Mugabe said, “ZAPU and its leader, Dr. Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in a house. The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head.” Nkomo, naturally, fled to London and Mugabe, naturally, killed about 20,000 Ndebele civilians in Nkomo’s Matabeleland homeland.
When Nkomo died of prostate cancer in July 1999 he was declared a National Hero and was buried in the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
He did not get a Nobel Peace Prize.