The closed chapter of FROLIZI and the JMC

The closed chapter of FROLIZI and the JMC

Tjenesani Ntungakwa
At the beginning, ZANU and ZAPU could not co-ordinate any meaningful activity.
Within the ZAPU school of thought, ZANU represented a serious attempt by the reactionary forces to divide the people of Zimbabwe. The revolutionary thinkers of modern class struggles like the Russian, Vladimir Illyich Uliyanov had talked at length about the efforts of counter revolutionary agents in changing the course of a revolution.
Uliyanov adopted the code name “Lenin”. He became a critical player in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). At its conference in 1905, an overwhelmingly larger faction of the RSDLP broke away and came to be referred as the “Bolsheviks”.
The Bolsheviks were the foundations of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). After the death of Lenin, the CPSU was led by Joseph Stalin.
The discourse of the CPSU won the admiration and idealism of ZAPU and became part of its adopted ideology in as far as the commissariat work was concerned.
In an independent Zimbabwe, the PF ZAPU 6th Congress was held from October 12-14, 1984. At that occasion, the leadership read from a prepared Political Report of the Central Committee. It was the last of such a gathering before PF ZAPU and ZANU-PF signed the Unity Accord of December 1987.
The statement started off by reminding the participants of what one of Africa’s revolutionaries, Amilcar Cabral had mentioned concerning the rewriting of Africa’s liberation efforts. Cabral, who died in 1972, was quoted as having spoken to the effect that the nationalists did not need to “tell any lies and claim no easy victories”.
It went further and emphasised: “If we are to use history as a weapon for our struggle, we must tell the truth fearlessly whatever the consequences. It must be said therefore, that the decision of certain elements to split the movement in 1963, played right into the hands of the colonial oppressors”.
The speech continued: “In this spirit, we would like to deny emphatically the current claim that the armed struggle began in 1966 at the battle in Chinhoyi. Whilst we in no way wish to belittle the actions of our comrades who died in this battle, the true facts of the beginnings of the armed struggle must be placed on record”.
To begin with, ZAPU had sent cadres like David Mpongo, Philemon Makonese, Zephania Sehwa and Mark Nziramasanga for training. Some of the early operations before 1963 involved the likes of Misheck Ntunduzakoseula Velaphi .
Of course, Boblock Manyonga was very pivotal in reconnoitring the location of arms caches that belonged to ZAPU and meant for the units that were subsequently infiltrated into the country.
On the other hand, ZANU embarked on a policy to entice some of ZAPU’s trained cadres to enlist in ZANLA. Robson Manyika was one of such personalities. Manyika seemed to have crossed over to ZANU in 1971, at more or less the time when ZAPU had its worst internal crisis since the demise of the NDP in 1961.
Robson Manyika had been militarily schooled in the Union of Soviet Republics (USSR) in 1964 together with Dumiso Dabengwa, Ambrose Muthiniri and others. Manyika was followed by Rex Nhongo who had been recruited earlier on by ZAPU in Zambia. Manyika had also served in the ZAPU’s High Command as its Chief of Staff. Such defections tended to strain the sensitive interaction which took place between ZANU and ZAPU.
There were many others who followed thereafter.
Interestingly, the detention of ZANU and ZAPU leaders in 1964 seemed to have paved way for some levels of communication across the hidden as well as confirmed barriers.
In any case, both movements had started off with their bases in the same territory in Dodoma, Tanzania and later on Zambia. There does not appear to have been much of an exchange of operational information between ZANU and ZAPU from 1963 to the early 70s.
Despite such possibilities, the ZAPU’s Vice President and National Treasurer Jason Ziyaphapa Moyo had been a good friend of ZANU’s first Secretary General, Robert Mugabe. In fact, Moyo seemed to have featured prominently at Mugabe’s wedding with his late Ghanaian wife Sally.
In the course of time, it became clear that ZAPU and ZANU would never get to serious round table solutions. In 1964, the high ranking minds in both parties were banished to such detention centres such as Gonakudzingwa, Sikombela, Buffalo Range and HwaHwa. In that case, the armed struggle gave way to probably a fairly younger cohort of politically mentored tacticians.
ZANU was effectively led by its National Chairman in exile, Herbert Chitepo. ZAPU was captained by a delicate combination of James Chikerema, its Vice President and Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, whose post in the party was that of National Treasurer.
As the animosity between the two persisted into 1971, Moyo increasingly assumed the position of Deputy President of ZAPU until Joshua Nkomo and the rest of the National Executive were released in the mid-70s. In that atmosphere, ZANU and ZAPU were presented with a major challenge that would bring them temporarily closer.
In 1971, after some time of squaring up with Jason Moyo, Chikerema came up with a completely new idea. He formed the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI). Though it was convincingly Zimbabwean, it originated in the host country, Zambia.
The FROLIZI chapter is one that the former ZANU and ZAPU following is adamant to talk about in this day. It capitalised on some disgruntled elements from both sides. To the Organisation of African Unity member states, it appeared as a unifying force which was looked upon as a favourable option.
However, the continental body never rushed to recognise it. Meanwhile, James Chikerema began to lobby the OAU for the full recognition of FROLIZI. In principle, ZAPU and ZANU were against the FROLIZI factor and saw it as an impediment to the direction of the armed struggle.
Judging from a paper that was presented by Report Mphoko, one of ZAPU’s guerrillas, Chikerema had left ZAPU in a state near to total disarmament. From ZANU, Chikerema somehow convinced Nathan Shamuyarira to join FROLIZI. ZAPU’s highly trained personnel like Harold Chirenda, also known as Elliot Masengo, was willing to shed some light on FROLIZI.
Masengo had received military training at the Chel-Chel Academy in Algeria during the time of President Ben Bellah. He was in the same company of recruits as Alfred Mangena who was appointed as the commander of ZAPU’s military wing, ZPRA in 1971.
Masengo puts his case in the open, “In those days, it became difficult to know which side to choose. Some of us decided to join FROLIZI.”
Like most of his comrades who had done the same, Masengo rejoined ZAPU when FROLIZI proved to be a defunct vehicle.
FROLIZI had also set up a motley army that was commanded by Shelton Siwela, appointed by James Chikerema. Siwela was looked upon as an intellectual who displayed the Che Geuvara type of charisma. It would seem that FROLIZI was eaten by the realities of time and fizzled out of the Zimbabwe’s nationalist picture. As president of the Zimbabwe Democratic Party (ZDP) in the late 70s, Chikerema participated in the Internal Settlement elections which gave birth to the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa.
The FROLIZI chapter saw a related development, the Joint Military Command (JMC). On paper, the JMC was a noble ambition that impressed some observers in the Organisation of African Unity [OAU] as a genuine step towards unity.
Earlier on, the OAU Ad-hoc committee had been set up to look specifically into the problems that kept ZANU and ZAPU from a unified push to remove to dismantle the political structures of settler colonialism in Rhodesia. In one of the JMC deliberations, the ZANU delegation made up of Henry Hamadziripi, Rugare Gumbo and Mukudzei Mudzi openly stated that they were not in favour of entering into alliance with ZAPU.
According to Report Mphoko’s paper, the ZANU officials described ZAPU as a “sick organization”. Their position seemed to have left no room for compromise. Another entourage from ZANU that comprised of Josiah Tongogara, Richard Hove and Justine Chauke ensured that the proceedings went ahead as originally planned. ZAPU was represented by Jason Moyo, George Silundika, Dumiso Dabenngwa and Phelekezela Mphoko whom many in the ZPRA High Command knew as “Report”.
At that point, ZAPU and the OAU Ad-hoc committee tasked to look into Zimbabwe rejected the demands by ZANU. It is intimated that Robson Manyika insisted on ZAPU dissolving itself so as to be a part of ZANU. However, such hiccups did not necessarily stall the progress that had to be made in the context of the Joint Military Command [JMC].
The Chairman of the external wing of ZANU, Hebert Chitepo presented a report dated 30 March 1972. It was entitled, “Zimbabwe African National Union, Latest Report on the ZAPU-ZANU unity moves” and printed by the Department of Information and Publicity.
It was a basic summary of ZANU’s appreciation of the JMC and its disapproval of the prior existence of FROLIZI. From the onset, Chitepo narrated what had taken place at the OAU Liberation Committee caucus held at Bengazi, in Lybia, on 18 January 1972. At that convention, the ZANU and ZAPU delegates singed a “Declaration of Intention”.
It specified the areas of interest to both sides. Some of the clauses stated that the JMC aimed at uniting the people of Zimbabwe through the armed struggle. In other words, the process would develop into a joint mobilization as well as supportive deployment of the fighting forces.
However, it was also very likely that such new initiatives would definitely not be a speedy achievement. After all, ZAPU and ZANU had come a long way and had developed completely different military strategies altogether.
The Bengazi Declaration was followed up by a meeting that was held at Adis Ababa, Ethiopia at which ZANU and ZAPU presented a joint document. The idea was to take the Bengazi Declaration a step further and bring it closer to effective implementation.
At Adis, ZAPU and ZANU laid down the specific actions as well as a framework within which their co-operation would take place in relation to the Bengazi Declaration. It was agreed that ZAPU and ZANU would in the interim seek to achieve unity through joint action whilst they both retained their separate identity.
Within that period, the ZANU and ZAPU negotiators met at Mbeya, in Tanzania, with the intention of taking the whole process to a higher level. The specifics of the Mbeya session were such that the implementing structures of the JMC were clearly drawn out.
In a way, ZANU and ZAPU did not seem prepared to lose control for the objective of operating as separate entities. It was explained that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Joint Military Command [JMC] would be the political heads of the external missions of ZANU and ZAPU respectively.
In that regard, Herbert Chitepo was selected to chair the JMC deputised by Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo. Inevitably, for the purposes of secrecy and security, the composition as well as the personnel manning various designations of the JMC would be kept confidential.
In the same report, ZANU was quick to take a position that the organs of the party such as the DARE re Chimurenga General Council, the High Command, provinces and districts of the party would remain intact. In addition to that, Chitepo’s minutes explained that the joint action would begin only after the necessary steps had been accomplished.
The 8th point in the document stated that: “Nor is it true that the coming into existence of FROLIZI acted as a catalyst in development of unity, quite contrary FROLIZI was an attempt by certain ambitious individuals to hijack the unity developments for their own ends”.
The JMC became one of the closest advances that ZANU and ZAPU had ever made in trying to bring about an effectively representative voice for the people of Zimbabwe. Later on, ZAPU’s internal problems came to pass and its operations resumed in full force.
Most probably, ZAPU had learnt from the experiences gained in the 1967 Wankie and the 1968 Spolilo campaigns. In 1973, ZAPU embarked on what was codenamed “Operation Xhoxhoza”.
Operation Xhoxhoza caught the Rhodesian military and Intelligence strata sleeping. By the first half of 1973, it had disrupted the carriage of rail stock across the Victoria Falls Bridge from Zambia into the Rhodesia.
The generality of the militants who were involved in Xhoxhoza were largely a ZAPU force that had developed combat as well as sabotage capability. The operation’s participants were John Dube whose original name was Sotsha Ngwenya, Tapson Sibanda who was known by the pseudonym Gordon Munyanyi, Report Mphoko, Roger Matshimini Ncube, Brigadier Abel Mazinyane and Maketo Ndebele.
Ndebele was also called Jack Mpofu, though most of ZAPU’s guerrillas knew him as “Darkie”. Darkie became one of ZPRA’s much talked about instructors.
Operation Xhoxhoza seemed to have changed the confidence levels in ZPRA and shifted the focus away from internal nitty-gritties that affected ZAPU. It also put to test the command hierarchy in the Zimbabwe Peoples’ Revolutionary Army [ZPRA] and led to the closure of the Rhodesia-Zambian border.
By then, the likelihood of a pact between ZAPU and ZANU was no longer as topical as it had been in the days of the JMC. Xhoxhoza came after a spell when Kaunda’s government had placed some restrictions on ZAPU. During then, Chikerema and Jason Moyo clashed over some matters pertaining to how the party conducted its business.
The Rhodesian Prime Minister reacted quickly and started to complain about the existence of what he termed “terrorist camps” Rhodesia’s northern neighbour, Zambia. He took his side of the bargain and ordered the frontier closed. The fate of the ZANU, ZAPU coordination remained an open ended failure.
Tjenesani Ntungakwa is a researcher

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