The Sunday Mail
We publish the final part of the political narrative of Cde Fani Chikomba, whose liberation war name was Cde Sorry Zivanayi. This week, Cde Zivanayi continues to tell our Deputy News Editor, Levi Mukarati, of the transition from ceasefire to elections in 1980 and his life after independence.
Q: Can you tell us more on the events that were to unfold from the time the ceasefire was announced?
A: Many comrades were reluctant to accept that the war had indeed ended.
The radio message by Cde Mugabe, to an extent, managed to convince some of the fighters that the war was over.
But people should understand that the war had been fought for many years and it was unbelievable kungonzi kandai zvombo pasi, hondo yapera.
Hongu taida kuti hondo ipere, muvengi abvume kuti tizvitonge, but we were fighting without a clue on when that would happen.
So, the announcement of a ceasefire was met with different reactions from us and even the white soldiers.
I was still in Nyahuwe and I am one of those fighters who could not believe or trust the announcements that the war had ended.
At that time, I decided I was not going to surrender my gun until I got a convincing assurance that we were safe and should stop fighting.
Panguva iyoyo, mahelicopters eRhodesian Forces akatanga kuuya, in the areas we were operating, painted with a white cross; as a sign of peace, I think.
The ceasefire had been signed on December 21, 1979 and within three days we received orders from our leaders to move into assembly points.
We were not 100 percent sure of what was happening.
As the fighters in Nyahuwe, we moved to the nearest assembly point, Charlie.
In one week, that was from December 28 to January 4 1980, we all moved to the nearest assembly point.
About 16 assembly points had been created and they were manned by the Commonwealth Monitoring Forces.
At the assembly point, we registered our names and weapon serial numbers.
There were daily head counts of the comrades, but it was difficult for the monitoring forces to control our movement, especially at night.
Some fighters would sneak out to nearby villages to get alcohol and entertainment, before returning at dawn.
I remember takapiwa zvima trousers and shirts zvichena. Tayizviti zvima Lord Soames, named after the governor of Rhodesia at that time.
But the white authorities were surprised because the comrades managed to use some natural dyes to camouflage the clothes.
We were of the idea that they were giving us white clothes so that if they want to attack us, we will be easy targets.
At the assembly points, we were addressed by the members of the ceasefire committee, which was made up of the leadership in Zanla, Zipra and Rhodesian Forces.
They told us the country was preparing for elections.
After that, we were taken by a bus, Matambanadzo, to a farm in Acturus, Goromonzi near Harare.
That was after being ordered to surrender the guns, ammunition and any explosives at the assembly point.
It was a sudden change in life.
Imagine, having spent years clutching your gun and then one morning you are ordered to let go of it.
This was the weapon that had seen me through various battles.
I, like other fighters, had become attached to the weapons and it was difficult to let go.
But painful as it was, we had to follow orders.
However, a number of comrades hid some grenades in their bags because they could not understand what they were walking into.
Q: What went on at the farm?
A: At the farm, there was farm one and farm two, we were waiting to be given assignments, either by Zanu PF or the Government.
Ikoko kufarm ndakasangana ne boys dzaibva kuEast Africa. Tayivati boys dzegwaridhe.
I remember there was Cdes Ali, Hitler Muparadzi, Dereck Bvunzawabaya or Solo, Tapiwa and Tiger.
That was also the first time we communicated with our relatives or families.
The first person I communicated with was my father in the rural areas in Honde Valley.
He then came to see me.
While there, I reunited with Cde Communist Kambanje.
I want to mention him because of his sad story.
We were not allowed to leave the farm without clearance.
So, Communist Kambanje had two grenades and managed to sneak out for a beer drink in Mabvuku.
After the drinks, he hired a taxi to take him to the highway so that he finds transport back to the farm.
There was a misunderstanding between Kambanje, who was drunk, and the taxi driver.
The driver stopped the car and the two disembarked before a scuffle ensued.
Kambanje then removed the pin from one of the grenades and threw it into the car, blowing it in the process.
Since they were still in the residential area, people had been awakened by the two in the scuffle.
Kambanje tried to run away but was caught, arrested, charged with attempted murder and sentenced to seven years in jail.
Just imagine, from war and then being thrown in prison. It touched me because the war had bonded us.
So, after my father came, I was to go home and in February we voted with Zanu PF emerging victorious.
Those celebrations are well documented and I can’t get into their details save to say, we were happy with the result.
It was jubilation countrywide as we prepared for the formal takeover of Government on April 18, 1980.
Q: What then became of you just after independence, what were you doing?
A: I was to return to the farm just after independence, because people were being taken from such points for integration into the army or Government while others went to do party activities.
From the farm, I was taken to Marlborough where Cde Mayor Urimbo lived.
There, I met Cde Herbert Matanga and Pascal Ndarega, he is now called Changunda, they were in the Zanu-PF commissariat.
I was assigned to the Zanu-PF offices at 88 Manica road in Harare to do commissariat work.
There, I joined some guys who included Anthony Muchaparara, who is now late, Francis Nhema, who was a student at the University of Zimbabwe and secretary of the students union; Reuben Marumahoko, who was political commissar Zanu-PF Harare Central District, Charles Utete and Cde Lovegidi.
We were tasked to do fundraising for Zanu PF women’s choir and worked with Kasongo Band on that project.
Our office was next to that of Cde Sally Mugabe, late wife of former president Cde Robert Mugabe.
We were then allocated a house in Mabelreign along 84th avenue, it was number 1.
It was myself, Anthony, Lovegidi and Marumahoko staying at that house.
While there, we received members of African National Congress. They were Geraldine Fraser, who was to later become a minister in South Africa. She had come into exile in Zimbabwe.
There was also another lady, Gloria, and a male, Patrick who had come with Geraldine.
They were doing ANC activities in Zimbabwe and were working closely with Joe Gqabi who lived nearby in Ashdown Park.
Gqabi was a member of the ANC national executive committee.
He was very powerful and tipped to be Oliver Tambo’s successor.
So we used to go and see him.
While we were staying with these ANC comrades, I remember discussing with my colleagues that the security at Gqabi’s house was not water tight.
A few days after that, Gqabi was assassinated by the apartheid hit squad at that house. It was now July 1981.
A few months after the assassination, some white police officers – two males and two females – came to our house.
They inquired if our house was being sold.
We told them the house was not for sale, but what we didn’t know was that it was a reconnaissance mission on the South Africans we were living with.
Within a week, we were at home when Marumahoko decided to go to Feathers Hotel, in the same neighbourhood, to buy some drinks. It was already dark.
Geraldine and another lady who had joined us, Evelyn Gotora, said they would accompany Marumahoko in the Peugeot 404 we were using.
As they got to Feathers Hotel and parked the vehicle, they were suddenly fired at while still in the car and Evelyn was shot on the shoulder.
During that incident, two other people were killed by stray bullets.
Geraldine then managed to take Evelyn to Parirenyatwa Hospital. Marumahoko had crawled his way out of danger and when he got home, his trousers were torn.
During that time, we lived with our AK 47s, so we took them and went outside and gave each other positions anticipating a night raid.
Then Geraldine returned around 2am and told us Evelyn was in a stable condition.
We later discovered that some white police officers were working with the apartheid regime in South Africa and wanted to eliminate Geraldine Fraser.
That same year, I was called for a training programme in Domboshawa. We were being trained as local government promotion officers.
The Minister of Local Government and Housing then was Cde Edson Zvobgo.
The programme was meant to diffuse the powers of the white district commissioners who were seen as the commissars of the Rhodesia party.
The commissioners dealt direct with the masses in the provision or services, so we wanted to cut that link.
But the problem was that at the Lancaster House Conference, it had been agreed that no one would be taken out of employment after independence.
However, with 55 white district commissioners, we needed a strategy to push them out in a smart way.
Our orders were to frustrate them into leaving office.
After the training, I was deployed here in Chinhoyi.
Initially, there was tension with the mostly white employees at the district commissioner’s office because I was above the level of a cadet.
This meant I was to get an office, accommodation and a vehicle.
But I should say I managed to fulfil my mission and the white district commissioner resigned after about eight months in 1982.
In 1991, I moved from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing after our department was disbanded.
I was then appointed Mashonaland West provincial youth officer in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
Then during the adoption of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, we were again left jobless in the mid-1990s as Government tried to reduce expenditure.
I then went to Harare, secured a loan and started to run Rose and Crown bar in Hatfield.
After that, I ventured into farming, which is what I am currently doing.