BULAWAYO — Late vice president Joshua Nkomo’s son, Sibangilizwe Nkomo (pictured), has said politicians have lost their way unlike his father who united Zimbabweans across the political divide during and after the liberation struggle.
Affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe, the late vice president was instrumental in the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord between ZANU-PF and ZAPU, which ended years of political instability in the Matabeleland and the Midlands regions.
He died 17 years ago on July 1, 1999 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
The former ZAPU leader is remembered every year on July 1.
His family has since made a request to government to have the day declared a national holiday.
This year’s commemorations were held at Stanley Square in Makokoba where people from all walks of life were in attendance.
Nkomo took the occasion to draw parallels between his father and politicians of today.
He said while his father had lived an exemplary life, today’s politicians seemed to have lost it and were at odds with what the nationalist had stood for.
“He was building this nation without tribal or racial discrimination and he led his party, as his own family…I never heard on a single day, my father and those who were following him fighting in public, but today I am very sad with modern day politicians. They fight and insult one another in public,” he said.
Infighting, which cuts across the country’s political parties, has seen politicians attacking one another especially in the media.
The nationalist’s son said today’s youths were not an exception either as they also insulted their elders in public, against the spirit of peace and unity espoused by Nkomo.
Recently, Acie Lumumba insulted President Robert Mugabe using unprintable words while launching his party, Viva Zimbabwe, in Harare.
“My father never did that and he did not like it; my father would build the nation as one united country. My father never divided the people. My father Joshua Nkomo left us the beauty of unity and love,” he said.
Zimbabwe People First interim national chairman for the information and publicity sub-committee, Methuseli Moyo said Joshua Nkomo was in a class of his own and had no equal during his generation.
“We have been dwarfed by Nkomo’s spirit of love, nationalism and anti-racialism,” said Moyo.
“However, Nkomo continues to be an inspiration to us young politicians, though most of us have been drawn into the politics of hatred that we grew under in the last 36 years of ZANU-PF’s rule.”
ZAPU alternate secretary-general, Strike Mkandla, said while it was true that some politicians insult each other in public, there were still a few who were exemplary.
Welshman Ncube-led Movement for Democratic Change’s deputy national spokesperson, Mbuso Siso, said there were few politicians in Zimbabwe who could match Nkomo’s standards.
He cited the ruling party’s factions code-named Lacoste and G40, which are fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe, as examples of the deterioration in the country’s politics.
Political analyst Anglistone Sibanda concurred that politicians had lost focus and were thus out of touch with the people’s expectations.
“I think his assessment is accurate; today’s politicians only care about themselves and amassing wealth at the expense of the suffering masses. They are not willing to sacrifice and serve the people.”
Sibanda said it was high time political leaders developed a heart of service to the people, listening to their needs while remaining accountable, otherwise they risked becoming irrelevant.
Sipho Nyoni, another political commentator, said today’s political leaders lacked the moral diligence and sacrificial leadership qualities that were exhibited by stalwarts such as Umdala Wethu, as Nkomo was also affectionately known.
“A political position in our country is now seen as a ticket to loot State resources and that applies to leaders both in government and opposition. As things stand, almost every minister in our government has a corruption scandal starring at him. The selflessness of leaders like Nkomo, who put the nation first, is no more as we are surrounded by people who think they are entitled to personal aggrandisement at the expense of those they are supposed to be leading,” said Nyoni.