The Sunday Mail
This week we continue with a narration by Cde Jane Lungile Ngwenya who speaks to our Deputy News Editor Levi Mukarati from her home in Bulawayo. An indefatigable revolutionary, Cde Ngwenya recounts events leading to the kidnapping of Cde Ethan Dube and the assassination of Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.
Question: You mentioned a conference in Moscow, what was this conference about?
Answer: I think another important chapter in my travels to these international conferences was my participation at the first United Nations World Conference on Women.
It was held in Mexico in 1975 and it led to the adoption of the World Plan of Action and the Declaration of the Equality of Women and their Contribution to Development and Peace.
I attended many conferences representing our liberation movement.
Unfortunately, you young people are now trying to dig the country’s history when our memories are now not very sharp.
We had people like Willie Musarurwa who passed on without having fully documented his own history.
We now have a sad situation where some people are lying about past events to get political posts.
That is why corruption is rampant in Zimbabwe because these people want to amass wealth before they get exposed.
I am not saying I am the start and end to Zimbabwe’s history, but it should be known that I am among some comrades who are not happy about how history has been distorted. Many people died before independence, but today they have been erased from our route to independence.
We have people like Ethan Dube and many others who disappeared and today no one talks about them.
These are people with relatives who want to know what happened to them.
It is unfortunate that Robert Mugabe concentrated much on politics and failed to address critical social problems we had.
During the first years of independence, Mugabe showed the social and economic will, but that was to be overtaken by politics.
We are too much into politics, that is why we see people start campaigning just after an election and before thanking the people who would have voted.
Question: You mention Ethan Dube, what happened to him?
Answer: Whilst in Zambia in October 1974, I was assigned, together with Ethan Dube on one of our usual duties to go to our Zapu camp in Francistown.
Ethan was our director of intelligence and as officers we used to set up camps.
I was assigned to work with Ethan Dube. I don’t know if it was planned within our organisation or not that we were to be kidnapped.
A lot of people have told me it was an inside job but I would not like to believe it and I do not know or have proof of such allegations.
The two of us were sent and arrived in Botswana and were received by our representative who was also looking after our camps in that country.
We used to call our representative by his surname, Matswaha.
He later joined the prison services after independence.
We were received well and went to have our supper at Matswaha’s house.
After supper I was taken to a Mrs Sithole’s house where I was to sleep for the night.
When I got there I found the place had already been prepared for me.
The following day we were supposed to wake up at 4 am.
I remember going to Mrs Sithole’s place around 6pm.
Because of the travel from Zambia, I was very tired and decided to take an early sleep.
Just before 8 pm, a team from the Botswana police came and asked me to quickly dress up and follow them.
They told me that Ethan had been kidnapped. I think this happened around the same time I arrived at Mrs Sithole’s place.
The police said people had seen Ethan being carried on the shoulder of one hugely built white man.
They said no one had bothered to ask what was happening or taking place.
You see, the Batswana are culturally not nosey, so they did not bother themselves over what was happening.
Question: Sorry to interrupt, but after supper didn’t Ethan tell you where he was going before you made your way to Mrs Sithole’s house?
Answer: I don’t want to bring a lot of new conspiracies now. But people are free to draw conclusions over what I know or what I can say about Ethan’s disappearance.
We had a woman contact in Francistown.
When I joined other cadres in Zambia, she was already there and many people in the leadership knew her.
I had not met her, but I knew she was there because she would accommodate some of our leaders when they went to Francistown and provided critical information.
Ethan drank alcohol and I knew that the woman contact also drank alcohol.
After supper, Ethan wished me a good night but indicated he was going to cool off over one or two beers with an ‘old friend’.
He did not mention he was going to this woman’s house but I suspected that is where he was going.
Like I said earlier, I knew there was a woman contact who I suspected to have fellow women friends who would join in at some of the drinking meetings.
But I will not bring in any conspiracy theory as to why Ethan chose to see this woman because I was not with him at the place.
But the Botswana police concluded that our comrade had been kidnapped by the notorious Selous Scouts from the woman’s house.
When they questioned the residents, they said Ethan had been carried away like a sleeping baby.
Judging by the time I had left him, he could not have been drunk to be carried away like that. We suspected he was injected with an unknown substance that made him unconscious.
As we were trying to come up with various answers, we arrived at the police station and I was to be kept there for the night.
I had gotten out of the house in my night dress and slept at the police station before I was escorted to take my belongings at Mrs Sithole’s house the following morning.
The authorities feared for my safety and that morning I was put on a plane back to Lusaka. When I got to Lusaka, I explained to the leadership what had transpired in Francistown.
The Zambian Government and police came together with some OAU officials and it was recommended that we go back to Botswana and carry out investigations on Ethan’s kidnapping. But even up to this day, we don’t know where Ethan was taken and what happened to him.
Question: You were one of the last persons to see Ethan Dube and I understand you were in the same office with the Zapu Vice-President Jason Ziyapapa Moyo on the day he was killed. Can you narrate this incident?
Answer: There was an OAU meeting in Lusaka in 1977 and a lot of delegates and permanent representatives from the United Nations wanted to meet leaders of the liberation movements before the start of the conference.
We were waiting to receive a schedule to know what time Zapu was set to meet the OAU leaders.
Jason Moyo went to Maputo for a liberation movements’ caucus meeting on a Thursday and came back the following day.
On the day he left, our chief administrator in the Zambian office, Jack Amos Ngwenya, received a note to collect a parcel from the post office that had been sent to Jason Moyo.
We had worked with Ngwenya from the days of NDP (National Democratic Party). He was a seasoned administrator.
When Jason returned, Ngwenya did not hand over the parcel. The parcel was supposed to be a small book and a Parker pen.
On Saturday morning, as Zapu leaders we were supposed to join Jason Moyo in a meeting with Sierra Leone’s permanent representative to the United Nations, a Mrs Bangura and Mrs Mohammad from Mali.
I am sorry I no longer remember their first names. Besides, back then we related to each other more on surnames than first names.
So we first had a meeting at our Zapu office to strategise on the engagement we were supposed to have with Mrs Bangura and Mrs Mohammad.
When we got to the office, Ngwenya told JZ he had forgotten to give him his parcel upon arrival the previous day.
In that office was myself, John Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa, vice-president Jason Moyo, Ngwenya and two security guys – Dingani and Carlos.
I was the only woman in the office.
We were supposed to leave for the meeting with only Jason Moyo, Jack Amos Ngwenya and the two security guys.
Dabengwa and Nkomo would carry on with our work at the office.
Before we left, Jack Ngwenya got up and handed JZ his parcel.
It was not something new as JZ and other leaders frequently received parcels from sister liberation movements and organisations in solidarity with us.
Again, we all knew Jason had received a parcel. But it later dawned on us that our phone line was being tapped by people aligned to the Smith regime.
I think the Zambian Government was relaxed on this one and the Rhodesians took advantage.
Again the Zambian Government did not think there were dangerous parcels that could be shipped through their postal services.
Jack Ngwenya was responsible for collecting our mail. We were later to convince ourselves that our phones had been hacked.
The interceptors of our communication knew we received parcels frequently and that is why they opted for a parcel bomb targeting JZ.
So when JZ got the parcel he immediately opened it. I remember seeing a small flame on the parcel and a thudding sound.
I was thrown out of the office as a result of the force from the bomb explosion and temporarily lost my hearing.
I remember later getting up and going back to where the explosion had erupted.
All the people in the room were injured. Dabengwa sustained burns on his face while Nkomo also got some burns. Jack Ngwenya was bleeding while lying on the floor and JZ Moyo was also on the floor with his intestines exposed.
JZ’s abdominal flesh had been ripped off in the explosion.
It was a terrible sight.
JZ was not decimated into pieces of flesh as some might think. It was only his intestines that were out but the rest of his body was intact. We then had some people saying Ngwenya knew of the bomb, but how could he be so stupid to give JZ the parcel and remain in the room.
During the liberation struggle people always tried to apportion blame to each other but in JZ’s case I believe our telephones had been hacked by the Rhodesians.
To be continued next week…