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Nkala denies Gukurahundi involvement

Zanu PF founding member and former cabinet minister, Enos Nkala claims President Robert Mugabe was ready to quit after the party’s electoral setback in the March 2008 general elections but was forced to stay on by the army.

Nkala who quit government in 1989 after being caught up in the Willowgate scandal dismisses allegations he was involved in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and says those responsible should be prosecuted. He spoke to SW Radio Africa’s Violet Gonda for the programme Hot Seat.

GONDA: Let’s start with getting your thoughts on the present political situation in the country.

NKALA: Yes – the present political situation is very fluid; I think I must underline that word fluid. No-one knows what will happen next year or the following year. If I’m talking in respect of Zanu-PF – Zanu-PF was formed in my house in 1963. We were the agitators of the formation of Zanu-PF from Zapu because we felt Zapu could not give us direction for the things we wanted. And what we were concerned about at that time when the split from Zapu came was the liberation of this country and everyone knows the performance of Zanu-PF as a guerrilla movement and what it did in the liberation of Zimbabwe. Its present standing is very (inaudible). You cannot pin it down to one thing because the people who are now controlling Zanu-PF… a lot of them are opportunist, men who came yesterday, men who are self-seekers, men who are not grounded in politics or even the economic administration of this country.

Robert (Mugabe) himself the leader with whom we started Zanu-PF has grown very old. 85 – he should be resting, playing with young children like some of us do with our nephews but he persists. I happen to know that he doesn’t want to continue; he’s being forced because the crowd of opportunists that now control Zanu-PF consist of different factions. There’re two major factions – one controlled by I think Solomon Mujuru, the other controlled by Emmerson Mnangagwa. And each of these groups have assembled a number of opportunists around them – money seekers who are not concerned about the survival of the party – all they’re concerned about is the existence of Zanu so that they can get whatever they can get. A lot of them are looters.

You know the country is on the floor; the economy of the country has so badly gone down that we have no industry, we have no agriculture, and we have no commerce. If we do have commercial shops, they are filled with goods from South Africa – we are no longer able to fill them with goods produced within this country because the economy has collapsed. I know no country in history, which has so collapsed that it has no currency of its own.

The lie that is being peddled by the leadership that it’s because of sanctions – that’s a lie. Cuba is under sanctions, there are many countries that are under sanctions – they’ve survived many years like Cuba, many years of sanctions – they still have their money, they still have their industry, their economy is intact, everything is in place, but Zimbabwe – nothing is in place. So Zanu-PF is no longer the Zanu-PF that I knew, that we organised, that we used to liberate this country.

Zanu-PF is on deathbed, it is in intensive care, Robert Mugabe has grown up, he is old, and I believe he is sick like I am sick – I am old. A lot of them – John Nkomo has just been appointed Vice President – he is old, he is sick, anything can happen to him. How do we expect sick people to attend to massive economic problems?

GONDA: That’s what I wanted to ask you Mr Nkala, earlier on you said Mugabe doesn’t want to continue but he’s being forced. By who exactly? Why is it they keep nominating him for the presidency? He’s been Zanu-PF leader since 1975, he’s 85 years old now and if he is to stand for elections if they’re held in five years time, he’ll be 90 years old. So you mentioned the two factions, you mentioned Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa but who exactly wields real power in Zanu-PF?

NKALA: (laughs) … No-one. When we have factions within the party there is no-one who wields the real power. When Mugabe lost initially, when he received 43% of the total vote, and Tsvangirai about 48, Tsvangirai had received more, of course he was deceived. His votes were stolen. Mugabe wanted, the information I have from within, wanted to resign, had prepared his speech, was ready to go – it was the army officers who intervened who said; ‘You can’t go. You remember the Gukurahundi issue?’ There are many issues that are outstanding for which some of them can be tried so they said you can’t leave us. If the information I collected is correct and I believe it is correct because it was given to me by people, some of whom are closer to those army officers, they said you can go to Malaysia, you can go to China but where can we go to? So that’s where it was offered that the army should intervene on his behalf and organise the election, the re-run election and you know what happened. You know why Tsvangirai had to go and run and hide, you know that he remained with nobody contesting him. He didn’t win that.

I know in Matabeleland less that 6000 people voted and I don’t know who they voted for because people were fed up, Zanu-PF no longer exists here in Matabeleland. If Mugabe himself came here and stood as a candidate in any place he would never win. If Mugabe himself stood in Harare our capital city, he will never win. People do not like him, I think you know about that and so he was kind of politically forced to continue. Even now, this re-election (at ZANU PF congress) is a false one. It’s because there is no-one to replace him and who can sustain Zanu as Zanu because if Mugabe goes, Zanu goes with him. So if he dies tomorrow, Zanu will die with him because Zanu as I know it now is in intensive care, is on the sick bed, it can die anytime.

GONDA: But what about the army, is the army aligned to any of the factions you’ve mentioned?

NKALA: Well ha, ha, ha, you know that there were a lot of problems in the army during the time when there was no food, no money and when inflation was going up almost every hour. You know that some army details were arrested for demonstrating or doing something, which they shouldn’t do. We happened to know that the army consists, mind you don’t forget, of Zipra, Zanla, former Rhodesian army and so on, it’s not real weld together but those at the top are using it to support Zanu-PF. Now I don’t believe that any one of the leaders of the two factions do actually control the army, the army has its own sentiments. There was a time during the re-run and after when the army officers were running this country and I believe they are still running this country because Zanu leadership spends most of the time in factional quarrels and so forth. It is no longer the Zanu that I know.

GONDA: What do you think will bring Mugabe and his Zanu-PF down eventually because the way you’ve explained things, you’d think that the party is really down on its knees but they’re still standing? What is the most effective strategy to defeat Robert Mugabe?

NKALA: Well as an old man who has done so much for the country, both its destruction and survival during the guerrilla warfare, he’s able to sustain one-legged sustenance of the party. And SADC, don’t forget that SADC consists of former combatants, they support him, they sustain him, they’ve been raising money for him and everything, they are calling for removal of targeted sanctions and the sanctions that are being talked about are not really sanctions, are targeted sanctions, they’re not economic sanctions, it’s all a lie, it’s all falsehood that is being said to the population that is unable to know things on its own. So wait and see what happens as we go on.

If he called for an election tomorrow, he would lose again and someone will have to intervene and sustain him or sustain Zanu-PF in power. Zanu-PF is no longer capable of sustaining itself as a political party. You know it lost the election, they had to steal the elections, they’re not the legitimate party that should be ruling. Tsvangirai should be ruling but because he doesn’t control the army and I think the army is frightened of him that he might bring trial to some of them – so they will do everything to prevent him. As to when Zanu-PF will collapse should be left to speculation and time but Zanu-PF is no longer the party that is ruling this country. Because if there was no inclusive government, shops would be completely empty, we would be hungry, we were hungry before the inclusive government, our own money was incapable of buying anything. Now we are using other peoples’ foreign currency and so forth and the little strength that is there now is because of the inclusive government, without the inclusive government, Zanu-PF on its own cannot stand, would collapse as I see it, from within itself.

GONDA: Now Mr Nkala you were part of this party that some have described as having been historically evil, since independence. If this is the case what do you consider to be the worst evil Mugabe and Zanu-PF inflicted on Zimbabweans?

NKALA: (laughs) Well I think the worst evil apart from Gukurahundi and other things that took place is the destruction of the economy. A lot of our people are not in this country, they’re where you are, they’re in South Africa, they are all over, they are in total dispersion and a lot of frustration, our people do not know where they are going. So I think the worst evil is destroying the economy and causing the departure of young people. Mind you, don’t forget that people who were born in 1980 are now 30 years, they don’t know about the war, Zanu-PF continues to talk about the war, talk about the victories of the past, we should be talking about the victories of today, not of the past. You cannot put on your table the victory of 1980, people have no food, people are suffering. I think that’s the worst kind of evil – hunger is not something anyone can be proud of. Economic collapse is not anything that anyone can be proud of so I think that is the worst evil that Mugabe has committed together with those who work with him.

GONDA: What about on the issue of rights abuses, if you were to use a scale on abuse of human rights when was it worse, in Matabeleland, the Midlands in the ‘80s or on MDC from 2000?

NKALA: Well it was worse in Matabeleland and in the Midlands but it is now widespread. You know the re-run, during the re-run, many people were killed in Mashonaland, homes burnt down, people whose hands were cut and so forth – in order to enable Mugabe to continue to rule. So the evil has not only been in Matabeleland, it has also been in Mashonaland. You know that during the Congress of Zanu-PF, the Manicaland chairman of Zanu-PF resigned in protest because what they expected to get they did not get. I hear even Masvingo they are very unhappy. There are very strong tribal sentiments now in Zanu-PF than in any other party or during the life of Zanu-PF when we were fighting for this country.

GONDA: Right, if we may talk a bit about what happened in the 80s with the Gukurahundi massacres, you actually served as the Minister of Defence around that time and you were involved in the notorious Gukurahundi massacre…

NKALA: Ha ha ha, my dear, have your history put straight. I left the Ministry of Finance in 1983 and was in Ministry of Supplies, National Supplies up to 1985. And after 1985 I was appointed Minister of Home Affairs and I did a lot to alleviate the massacre of my people. That’s why I’m here in Matabeleland, no-one has ever come to me and said you massacred us because they know the truth and then I was appointed Minister of Defence after the Unity Accord – get that straight. And then the Gukurahundi issue had been solved when I was appointed Minister of Defence. I know there are many people who go round saying I was Minister of Defence during the massacres, that’s a lie, a massive lie, an unfortunate lie.

GONDA: OK so you were the Minister of Home Affairs during that period?

NKALA: Yes – up to ’85. You know the Gukurahundi issue started in 1982 right up to ’85. 1985 we had elections, after those elections I was appointed Minister of Home Affairs. It was during this time that through my influence in Cabinet we made many attempts to stop what was happening, so the deployment of Gukurahundi and what instructions were given to them I was not involved in that. You better ask Mugabe, Mnangagwa and someone else. I was not involved in that.

GONDA: But who…

NKALA: You can ask me from 1985 and it was me who went around removing the curfew.

GONDA: But before we go there, who planned this and why? Why was the Fifth Brigade formed in the first place?

NKALA: Well you better ask Mugabe.

GONDA: What was your understanding?

NKALA: I was not part of the formation of the Gukurahundi. The Gukurahundi was trained and armed by the Koreans; I was not involved in that. You know defence people are not reported in Cabinet. It’s the Minister of Defence, and the man in charge of the whole army Robert Mugabe. If there was to be a commission of enquiry involving the issue you are asking, then I would state my case quite clearly. I’m not frightened of anything, I am not the author and finisher of Gukurahundi. That question must be put to Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa who was in charge of CIO and the late, what his name who was the Minister of State, I’ve forgotten his name – he’s dead now. So I was not involved either in the massacre or in the instruction to carry out the massacre.

GONDA: But surely Mr Nkala as having been Home Affairs Minister and Defence Minister… (interrupted)

NKALA: Defence my dear….

GONDA: I’m not saying around that time, can I just finish the question? Since you were Home Affairs Minister and Defence Minister even after the massacre, surely you could have enquired as to why it was planned and why it happened and who was behind it because 20 000 innocent people from Matabeleland and the Midlands were slaughtered. What was your understanding of why this happened?

NKALA: Well we used to ask my dear! This is why Mugabe himself after, when I was in Home Affairs, appointed me to lead a team of Ministers to go and remove curfew and remove all the bitter things that were taking place. This was because I had been challenging him as to why it was happening because rumours were coming to me. I was not in the field to see what was going on but people used to come and tell me of what was going on and I would discuss this with Mugabe himself. So you better put that question to Mugabe whether I was involved in the massacre of my own people.

GONDA: You know I’ve been talking to several journalists who covered these disturbances during that period and I’m told that you, at one time, threatened Zapu at a rally in Stanley Square…

NKALA: Where?

GONDA: At Stanley Square and you are accused as having said that Zapu must be eclipsed and gave Zanla forces instructions on how to carry out that plan, and apparently this led to the Entumbane fights (the first disturbances that led to the Gukurahundi massacres). What can you say about that?

NKALA: Eh my dear, you better ask those journalists to give you the script. There are a lot of words that were put in my mouth which were not true. So what you are now asking me about is something that I am unaware of. I did talk at a meeting because I knew that there was a lot of conflict between former combatants of Zanu and Zapu, that should stop, the nonsense of those former combatants should stop and so on. But Zapu felt provoked and they were the first to attack Zanu-PF camps. I didn’t command them to attack Zanu-PF camps. That’s a lie that is being peddled.

GONDA: So you were not involved in plans to destroy Zapu?

NKALA: Political destruction yes but not military destruction. I wouldn’t be living here in Matabeleland if that, if what you are saying is true. I am working with Zapu people here, I am working with former combatants of Zapu here, they are always at my place, and we talk. Why are they not attacking me? Why is that lie being peddled by white journalists?

GONDA: No I didn’t say anything about white journalists. Actually they are black Zimbabwean journalists that I’ve been talking to, researching for this interview. What about the Dumbutshena Commission, Mr Nkala? Whats…(interrupted)

NKALA: Why don’t you ask him?

GONDA: What happened to the Dumbutshena Commission of Enquiry into the Entumbane disturbances?

NKALA: (laughs) I didn’t see it. I know there… (interrupted)

GONDA: Why wasn’t it made public?

NKALA: Just a minute. I know there was a report about it, I didn’t see it and Mugabe didn’t publish it. Why didn’t he publish it if he was free, if I was responsible for it? Why doesn’t he publish it even now? That question should be put to Robert Mugabe. If there was any evil committed it was committed by Robert Mugabe. He knows, how about this issue of killing people for elections? That he wins elections by burning homes, in Mashonaland this time, Tsvangirai going to hide and so on, was it me? I think that what you are asking me my dear, it’s a total lie. I’m prepared to stand anywhere…

GONDA: So you never said in Kezi, mocking Ndebeles saying that ‘we can stop drought relief from coming to Matabeleland South. Lizabona. Lizakudhla UbuNdebele?’ (You will see, you will eat your being Ndebele).

NKALA: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha my dear! Get that tape if it is there and repeat it to me.

GONDA: Do you have any regrets though?

NKALA: I have no regrets because I have nothing to regret about.

GONDA: Now Mr Nkala you claim to have written a book chronicling all that has happened in Zanu-PF since its inception… (interrupted)

NKALA: No, no, no let’s leave the book.

GONDA: No but… (interrupted)

NKALA: Let’s talk about what you want to talk about.

GONDA: No I just wanted to find out – is there a book, is there going to be a book? Are you writing a book about this?

NKALA: Ha ha ha. Why should I sing songs about it? Why does it concern anyone? Why should I be cross-questioned as if I am in court? Let me do my own things in my own way.

GONDA: We just wanted to find out if it is true that you are writing a book about what happened.

NKALA: Let’s leave it. Many have been phoning me because what they want, those people who want that book – is that I should write and say Mugabe did this, Mugabe killed so and so or I killed so and so, or so and so killed so and so, that’s not what I am writing about, it’s all nonsensical. I would be mad to write that way.

GONDA: So what are you writing about, just briefly?

NKALA: Eh no, that’s not for public debate.

GONDA: OK, there were some people who were saying that you have said the book would be published when you die. Is this true though?

NKALA: When I first announced that I was doing something in that area I said the publication will come after my death. I did say that.

GONDA: Are you scared for your life?

NKALA: No, no, no. Ha, ha if I was scared I would not be talking the way I am talking to you about Robert Mugabe. I don’t fear anyone. I fear God. I am a Christian, I’m a born-again Christian. I don’t fear Robert Mugabe, I don’t fear anyone on earth, I fear God and that finishes the matter.

GONDA: Right but why would the book be released after your death though? Because it’s pretty strange and some people will say you may be scared for your life or it’s part of an insurance-thing just for your security.

NKALA: No. It’s for reasons best for me, they don’t have to be known to the general public, there are a lot of things I know, I have lived longer than you and longer than some of those people who want me to publish it now. I’ve known many things, I have gone through many difficult situations – that’s for me, and it’s not for public consumption. If the public wants to consume it, it will consume it when it is revealed.

GONDA: Right, and if you had a chance to talk to Mugabe today, what would you say to him?

NKALA: Why should I talk to Mugabe? I don’t like him. Why should I talk to him? He’s not my boss, he doesn’t run my life, why should I bother talking to him? We have talked sometimes, he has called me to talk, we talk, and we know each other. I know his strengths, he knows my strengths, he knows what I like, and he knows what I don’t like. Why, why, who is Mugabe? What is he to me? I was ten years in detention with him, living closely. I was with him in government, close on to ten years. I know him. I know what many people don’t know about him. Why should I go talking about him? Why? I wouldn’t consider ever doing that. If it meant death I would die without saying a word about him. But I don’t like him. I don’t like the way he administers things, I don’t like his politics, and I am among the three who put him in that position when we removed Ndabaningi Sithole. Myself, Maurice Nyagumbo, Edgar Tekere – we put him there, he’s a very eloquent man and he is very deceptive if you are not careful and so on but I don’t like to go into his personal life, that’s not my role.

GONDA: And finally Mr Nkala can you give us your thoughts on how this whole land reform programme has been handled by Zanu-PF?

NKALA: Well I think it was the worst kind of thing any human being could do. We are the only country that has done what Mugabe did – taking away people’s properties without compensation, some of them were killed. A lot of them used to come here to appeal to me to intervene. I addressed 500 of them, reassuring them that not every former fighter is in agreement with the way the farms were taken and the farms were taken in a funny way, using primitive former combatants. Some of them were not combatants like this man, what’s his name? – Chinotimba. He never fought any war – he’s just, we don’t know where he came from but he makes himself a combatant.

So if it had been me redistributing the land, I would not have gone the way Mugabe went. That one is a madman exercise, no mature and Christian person would condone that. So it’s a Mugabe way of doing things and I think if he dies and Zanu-PF goes out of power, there must be another redistribution of land and compensation to those who lost their land because they had worked on them for many years. Now we have no food, we are no longer as productive as we were and sanctions, so-called sanctions, targeted sanctions have been imposed on him. And I support that they should not lift sanctions because I happen to know that the Treasury had a lot of gold, a lot of money, our currency was very strong. Once I left and he was able to run that Ministry through his appointees, things disappeared. We hear some of the gold is in Malaysia, somewhere else and so forth.

And I support the prosecution of Robert Mugabe, both for Gukurahundi, if I did do anything I would be happy to be prosecuted but Mugabe must be prosecuted with some because I know the facts of what happened and I was not given any farm, I don’t need it, I don’t want stolen land to be given to me, I am a Christian. I’m a born-again Christian, I don’t want it. If I have no food, I will eat leaves.

GONDA: Oh you’re not a beneficiary because we had, there were reports saying that you now live on your farm. So you bought that farm?

NKALA: Ha, ha, ha, ha. You know 220 acres cannot be described as a farm. I bought it when I was in government with my own money. That’s the only farm I have, I don’t live in the farm, I am in town. I go there to do one or two things, I am a cattle rancher, so if anyone tells you that I have a farm, please check on his intentions to because there are a lot of people just go about peddling lies which they can’t prove. I have nothing.

GONDA: All right, thank you very much Mr Enos Nkala for talking on the programme Hot Seat.

NKALA: Thank you. 

SW Radio Africa