by TZN Correspondent
A FORMER national healing minister Moses-Mzila Ndlovu who led a crusade on Emmerson Mnangagwa for calling the late nationalist Joshua Nkomo a sell-out, has made a surprise remark in trying get to hit out at Mnangagwa.
The former minister defended Nkomo as a war hero citing the downing of the Viscounts Air Rhodesia Flight 825 in 1978.
Newzimbabwe.com reported on Sunday that Mzila, who was the ZIPRA company commander during the liberation war, said ZIPRA had a far much more superior record to ZANLA hence ZANU PF’s hatred for ZAPU.
“The Rhodesians understood that ZIPRA was very powerful. We really hurt them. I won’t even talk of the viscounts shooting but I can talk about how we conquered the air space with the assistance of the Russians.
“It is us that even general Peter Walls was afraid of. Our record is clear. But for ZANU PF what did they do? All they know is to construct their own version of history and destroy the economy,” Mzila said.
On September 3, 1978, the conflict took a turn that outraged even war-weary Rhodesia with Nkomo’s ZIPRA forces shot down a civilian jet carrying 56 passengers.
In 1979, Joshua Nkomo’s troops shot down a Viscount plane thinking that Walls was on board. All those on board were killed. In fact, Walls and his wife were on a plane that took of 15 minutes later. ZIPRA leader publicly claimed responsibility for shooting down the Hunyani on BBC television the same evening, saying the aircraft had been used for military purposes with Smith calling Nkomo a “monster”.[vsw id=”_wEenIcDYPE” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
“Interview with joint leader of the Rhodesian Patriotic Front, Joshua Nkomo about the shooting down of the Viscount aircraft with the loss of all on board. He says his guerrillas could shoot down many civilian planes if they chose, but they do not. He says that it was believed to have had on board the commander of the Rhodesian security forces, Lieutenant-General Peter Walls”
Questions have been raised as to how one could cite such a heinous and despicable act which is abhorred by most – shooting unarmed civilian aircraft.
“Mzila, a senior Welshman Ncube led MDC talks about Viscounts and does not mentions that the surviving civilians were raped before they were killed in a coward and barbaric act that horrified the white world resulting in Mugabe being preferred to Nkomo?”, said a shocked veteran Journalist based in South Africa.
Although the UK is widely believed to have tipped Russian backed Nkomo over Mugabe’s plot to assassinate him, they refused him asylum in Britain but temporary admission. The refusal for substantive asylum cited the jovial interview he did on BBC when he was asked about the shooting down of the civilian aircraft and executed survivors .He ended up having no choice but to return to Zimbabwe and sealed the fate of ZAPU.
However there are some reports that the civilian aircraft is said to have been shot down by rivals in the Rhodesian JOC who wanted to kill General Peter Walls, who decided not to board the plane in the last minute. And when the plane was shot down in the ZIPRA area, they went and robbed survivors and executed them and that is how ZIPRA owned up to this heinous crime.
“It’s an absolute disaster and blemish on those who want to compare ZAPU and ZANLA forces in such a manner. But the sad thing is the supporters are oblivious of its damaging effect hence they talk about it willy-nilly as if it’s an act of heroism. The British saw Joshua Nkomo as a bigger threat than Robert Mugabe,” said a Harare based Political Analyst.
In 2013 Labour MP Kate Hoey moved a motion in UK parliament arguing that shooting of Air Rhodesia Viscount RH827 by ZIPRA forces during the liberation struggle which the House of Commons classified as an atrocity that should be commemorated. Civilians in the flight were killed and there was need to give February 12, the day the plane was shot down, official recognition.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu sent a short prayer and message of goodwill for the memorial service in 2013. The Viscount team state that they see only to unite all of those who suffered in the Rhodesian conflict and deplore the loss of any innocent life “We seek only to heal the wounds of the past and by so doing to build a brighter future for all”