Region mourns VP Nkomo
Harare – Leaders from across Southern Africa joined thousands of Zimbabweans at the National Heroes Acre in Harare last Monday for the burial of Vice President John Landa Nkomo (79) who succumbed to cancer a week ago.
The leaders included South Africa ’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Zambia’s Vice President Dr Guy Scott, Botswana’s Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Tanzania’s Vice President Dr Mohammed Bilal and Namibia’s Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob.
Dr Scott described VP Nkomo as a “fine and friendly” man.
“We came here to show that we are with you as you mourn such a great man that we have known for a long time,” he said.
VP Bilal added this was a great loss to the people of Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.
“Zimbabwe has lost a great patriot. A great lover of the people for he did so much for the people.”
VP Nkomo was born on August 22, 1934 in the then Gwaai Reserve (present day Tsholotsho) in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North Province.
He trained as a teacher in the 1950s and was involved in the formation of trade unions to press for the improvement of working conditions for black workers during the colonial era.
He entered the political field as a founding member of Zimbabwe’s African National Congress between 1958 and 1959.
When it was banned by the white settler regime he then joined the National Democratic Party in 1960 before joining the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1961.
VP Nkomo was arrested on several occasions by the Ian Smith regime after the latter’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965 and was detained between 1966 and 1968.
In 1971, he joined the African National Council where he was Deputy Secretary-General.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Patriotic Front, a union between ZAPU and ZANU that prosecuted in the liberation war.
VP Nkomo was seriously injured by a parcel bomb that killed another hero of Zimbabwe’s struggle for Independence, Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, in 1977 and he continued to suffer from the effects of the incident up to the time of his death.
After the country gained Independence in 1980, he joined the new government and served in various portfolios.
He was part of PF ZAPU’s negotiating team with ZANU that resulted in the Unity Accord that ended disturbances that had affected Zimbabwe’s southern provinces after independence.
The Unity Accord led to the formation of ZANU-PF.
He was elevated to the Vice Presidency in December, 2009.