The Sunday Mail
Rtd Col Tshinga Dube
National Hero Cde Naison Ndlovu was a true nationalist who got involved in political activism during the early years of our struggle against colonialism.
As we all know, Zimbabwe’s fight against colonial subjugation started from trade unions. As such, Cde Ndlovu joined the likes of the iconic Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and others in an era when trade unionism was at its peak. They morphed into a political party structured along the lines of the African National Congress of South Africa. Cde Ndlovu and company were in the Southern Rhodesia ANC which later evolved into the National Democratic Party.
A formidable political activist, Cde Ndlovu was involved in other formations after the NDP, including Zapu and the People’s Care-taker Council.
And he always took the lead during the struggle. In the 1960s, when we resorted to armed struggle, he, too, helped ensure the party was strong at home in the midst of all persecution. At the time, it was not easy for senior citizens to understand what politics was all about. A number of senior citizens were pretty much unfazed, convinced that the status quo was the way of life. They did not realise, though, that we were an oppressed people.
Very few elderly people were able to stand up after coming face-to-face with oppression. I reckon Cde Ndlovu’s family was politically alert, judging by his political grounding and resolve to free his country from colonial oppression. He was keen to join the liberation movement. When detained nationalists were released, he was among the comrades who went outside Zimbabwe to train and organise the war effort.
He joined JZ Moyo, George Silundika, Edward Ndlovu, Munodawafa and many others in Zambia, becoming an active and a resourceful character in the struggle. He was a Zapu Central Committee member consistently, and was later elected Chairman of the party. After Independence in 1980, he became the first black mayor of Bulawayo. That was no easy feat, but he did a splendid job as Bulawayo has remained one of the well-governed cities in the world.
He built a good legacy and those who came after him have followed in his footsteps. I can confidently tell you that Cde Ndlovu continued to guide those younger than him; like ourselves and many others. When the Unity Accord was signed (December 22, 1987), he became a member of Zanu-PF’s Central Committee and Politburo. Cde Ndlovu, as a mature nationalist, was instrumental in the success of the Unity Accord.
He shared the same conviction with President Mugabe and Vice-President Nkomo that unity was critical for the people of Zimbabwe. Divisions paralyse a people; we had learnt this from some of our neighbours in Southern Africa who had fought each other, destroying cities and so forth.
Yes, I have not forgotten that we had some problems as a country, as a party in the early 1980s, but they were soon quenched. Our leaders came together having found it necessary to unite Zimbabweans and leave no chance for trouble-makers to brew further mischief.
So, Cde Ndlovu was one of the pillars in building the Unity Accord and that’s why he stuck by it until his resting day. He supported many Government projects, and was one of the leaders who advocated land reform. He also became Vice-President of the Senate, which, as you know, is a very senior and demanding job.
He performed his duties in utmost humility. No one complained about him. I know he suffered a lot due to illness. He, nevertheless, endured prostate cancer which is a big killer, especially in elderly people.
Colonel (Rtd) Tshinga Dube is the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators and Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees. He shared these views with The Sunday Mail Reporter Tinashe Farawo in Harare last Thursday