Opinion / Columnist

Bennett's error of judgment in his posthumous attack on John Nkomo

by fingaz
24 Jan 2013 at 04:16hrs | 3366 Views
IT was one mistake too many.

That is what it was, Roy Bennett's egregious error of judgment in his posthumous attack directed at the late Vice President John Nkomo who passed on last week on Thursday after battling cancer for some time.

At a time when all and sundry in Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations as well as in churches, private organisations and ordinary Zimbabweans were saluting a departed liberator, Bennett thought otherwise.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai rightly said Nkomo was a hero.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube described Nkomo as a unifying force while ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa saw him as a "stabilising force".

The United States embassy in Harare said the late leader was a "patriot who dedicated his life to Zimbabwe's sovereignty and prosperity."

But from a dark horizon appeared a single political dissenting voice in the name of Roy Leslie Bennett.

"Excuse me. We may not like to speak ill of the dead, but let's not tell lies. How can anyone with any sense say that John Nkomo dedicated his life to Zimbabwe's prosperity? Since the 1980s, he has sat at the heart of the beast that has destroyed Zimbabwe's economy," said Bennett.

"He has held the hand of the dictator that has obliterated our hopes and freedoms.

"He must now be remembered by the choices he made. He chose to oppose the people, rather than serve them. He walked around in tailor-made suits while Zimbabweans walked in rags. He received private medical treatment in South Africa, while Zimbabweans in South Africa were dying in the townships."

In those misdirected lines, Bennett emerged, not as a democracy activist as he has wanted us to believe all these years, but as one other bitter Rhodie, no doubt angry at the loss of his nobility through the land reform process in which Nkomo signed some of the offer letters.

For the record, Nkomo goes to the grave a hero to all patriotic Zimbabweans: He may have erred at some point in history, as all man are liable to error, but his brave fight that saw every eligible Zimbabwean being enfranchised in 1980 cannot be expunged from our memories.

During the colonial period, Bennett together with some sellout blacks were on the wrong side of history as servicemen in Ian Smith's genocidal regime, while Nkomo chose to be on the side of the people.

For starters, where does that place John Landa Nkomo in comparison to Bennett?

There can never be any greater betrayal!

It has been a matter of public record that years after independence, Bennett became a member of Zanu-PF.

In a sworn affidavit he submitted to Parliament in 2004 before he was jailed for an effective year for flooring Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Bennett stated in his own words that he had been a member of President Mugabe's party, only leaving after he was barred from standing as one of its candidates in the 2000 general elections.

Yet he has the temerity to say: "Since the 1980s, he (Nkomo) has sat at the heart of the beast that has destroyed Zimbabwe's economy."

The second question that begs an answer is: if the late VP was a villain for seating at the heart of a beast since the 1980's, what of Bennett who was part of that beast in the 1990s and worse still a defender of the political dinosaurs' of the years prior to 1980?

As a politician, Bennett must know that there is no political benefit or mileage in seeking solace in petty escapism for the sole purpose of forgetting unpleasant realities.

There is no denying that Zanu-PF has departed from what it fought for; its disposition to political violence; its actions that are disruptive of individual enterprise; its scorched earth policies when sensing defeat, attest to that.

The party's poor governance record is in part the reason why the MDC-T was formed in 1999.

But with members such as Bennett, it is about time the MDC-T leadership undertook a thorough self introspection as to whether what they are fighting for is in sync with what their treasurer general is also fighting for.

Indeed is the new Zimbabwe that the premier, Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa and others have in mind the same as the one that Bennett envisages for this republic?

Do they all have the same axe to grind with Zanu-PF?

In some respects, Bennett's unAfrican attack on Nkomo was an attack on what the liberation of Zimbabwe was anchored on.

But that struggle was not a doddle process. It was only possible because of man who exhibited considerable endurance such as Nkomo.

The late vice president experienced the harsh exigencies of war, surviving a bomb blast in 1977 that claimed the life of his dear comrade Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo.

His acceptance to forgive men who not only jailed him and nearly killed him but also went on to massacre those who embraced the cause of freedom is a mark of unquestionable heroism.

From his bases in the United Kingdom or South Africa, Bennett needs to realise that Nkomo belongs to a league of extraordinary men and women who never ran away, like antelopes at the slightest sign of approaching trouble or sought ephemeral pleasures during critical times for Zimbabwe.

Some of his sacrifices benefited the greatest of numbers of our people.

To indigenous Zimbabweans, he remains a gentle politician and a nationalist and his sacrifices cannot be dwarfed by the musings of men he defeated prior to 1980 or those who seek to be latter day saints when they gave the majority blacks their backs when they needed them the most.

A comment by a Zimbabwean on the subject on one of the country's various media outlets encapsulates that.

"He (Nkomo) did have his wrongs but many of us are more grateful than we are angry at him. You (Bennett) and us cannot and will never share the experience of having been liberated by Chimurenga. That is an experience that will always give you and us a different perspective on the current and past national leaders," reads the posting.

"Again many things went wrong, and horribly wrong over the last 30 years but in the eyes of a normal black Zimbabwean who tasted apartheid and understood its macro implications, the man and women who brought independence will always have a special place in our hearts. We know and would like to correct what they did wrong but we will not forsake them."

Source - Attack,Bennett
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