HARARE – Michael, the elder brother of the late Zanla chief and national hero, Josiah Magama Tongogara died in Mt Darwin last week, but Zanu PF snubbed his burial on Saturday, it has emerged.
By Saturday evening, Zanu PF officials were yet to pay their condolences to the Tongogara family. Family spokesperson and one of Josiah Tongogara’s sons, Granger said his uncle succumbed to hypertension and died on Tuesday last week at the age of 75.
He said the Tongogara family had lost a pillar of strength.
“Mike shall be remembered as a husband, father, brother, grandfather, unifier and a comrade to many,” said Granger. “Mike played a father figure to all of Josiah Tongogara’s children. He is survived by his wife, several children and grandchildren.”
Michael had recently told The Standard that he was still an active Zanu PF member although he did not hold a position anymore. He was based in Zambia during the liberation struggle and used to house many senior Zanu PF officials at his residence in Chingolo.
The late Michael died a bitter man complaining that his party, President Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru and others who used to be close to Tongogara had neglected the late hero’s 10 children, most of whom were struggling to make ends meet.
Recently he showed The Standard several letters from Tongogara asking him to take care of his children in the event that he died. In one of the letters, dated December 4 1978, Tongogara wrote from Mozambique to his elder brother outlining his war trials and his concern for Zimbabwe and his family.
Michael had written to his young brother explaining how he had been “tortured” by the Zambian authorities as the fallout between Zanu PF leaders and Kenneth Kaunda’s government continued well after Tongogara and others had been exonerated by the courts for the death of Hebert Chitepo.
The late Zanu chairman was killed in Lusaka in 1975 in a car bomb which the former liberation movement blamed on Rhodesian agents.
Michael also told The Standard that he was still in the dark regarding the death of Tongogara in a mysterious car accident on December 26 1979 saying the family still longed for answers.
Granger said while some senior government and military officials were recently seen supporting a distant relative of one of Tongogara’s family members who had died; the same treatment had not been accorded to Michael.
“They provided security and cars [name withheld] playing a divide and rule game to the family,” said another relative.
Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Dickson Mafios yesterday said he was not aware of Michael’s death.
“We have not been informed yet,” Mafios said. “Maybe we will be informed at today’s (Saturday) central committee meeting which we are rushing to now,” he said.
Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he could not answer any questions as he was in a meeting while Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha said he did not know Michael.
“One of the family members called telling me about it [the death] but I did not confirm,”
Dinha said. “The problem is I have not been around as I am studying thus, have to frequently take days off.
“I had to rush down here for the burial of Chief Chiweshe and I also had two funerals within my own family.” Zimbabwe Standard