From Gweru to Restore Legacy

What goes around comes around.

In December 2017, Zanu-PF held an historic Extraordinary Congress that recalled Robert Mugabe as First Secretary and President of the ruling party, and elevating Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zanu has had some truly epoch-chaning congresses in its 55-year existence.

In 1964 in Gweru, the party that had been born in August 1963 at Enos Nkala’s house, held its inaugural congress.

Ndabaningi Sithole was voted party leader, deputised by Leopold Takawira. Mugabe was elected Secretary-General, deputised by Edson Zvobgo. Nkala was Treasurer, with Michael Mawema was Organising Secretary. The country’s first black lawyer, Herbert Chitepo, was elected Chairman, whilst Nathan Shamuyarira was Secretary for External Affairs.

Edson Sithole – who was to disappear mysteriously in the then Salisbury on October 15, 1975 – became Publicity Secretary with Simpson Mutambanengwe Secretary for Pan-African Affairs. Washington Malianga was Secretary for Youth.

The next significant indaba was the Chimoio Congress of 1977, which confirmed Mugabe as Zanu leader. That Chimoio Congress also essentially gave Zimbabwe its first Cabinet at Independence.

Mugabe was deputised by Simon Muzenda, Edgar Tekere became Secretary-General, Mukudzei Mudzi took the external affairs portfolio whist Josiah Tongogara was Secretary for Defence.

Mayor Urimbo was elected Chief Political Commissar whilst Rugare Gumbo was Secretary for Information and Publicity. Ernest Kadungure and Matuku Hamadziripi came in as secretaries for Finance and Manpower Planning respectively.

Herbert Ushewokunze was elected Secretary for Health whilst Kumbirai Kangai came in as Secretary for Welfare and Transport. Dzingai Mutumbuka was Secretary for Education and Crispen Mandizvidza was elected Secretary for Production, Construction and Development.

Teurai Ropa Nhongo was the only female member of the secretariat, responsible for Women’s Affairs, and one Emmerson Mnangagwa was Special Assistant to the President.

Then came 2014 when a Zanu-PF Congress dismissed Teurai Ropa Nhongo as Vice-President.

Fast forward to 2017, and an earth-shaking Extraordinary Congress saw Mugabe recalled as party leader for diverging from Zanu-PF’s long-standing values.

Mugabe’s recall mirrors that of Sithole, who was replaced for – among other things – placing his family’s interests ahead of those of the party and the nation.

Sithole, upon being informed that an attack had been perpetrated against freedom fighters in Zambia, opted to visit his daughter in the United States.

That decision to fly to America instead of attending to the crisis in Zambia convinced freedom fighters that this was not the man to lead them to the promised land.

Almost four decades later, Mugabe was to be recalled for allowing his wife to try and run the party and Government.

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