By Prosper Ndlovu
The body of national hero and former Cabinet Minister Enos Mzombi Nkala arrived in Bulawayo yesterday ahead of a funeral service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds.
Nkala’s body was received at HQ One Brigade at 2pm by outgoing Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathema, Zanu-PF Matabeleland South chairman Andrew Langa, Politburo member Richard Ndlovu, senior police and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officers.
The veteran nationalist’s body was escorted by his wife, Thandiwe, close family members and outgoing Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives, Sithembiso Nyoni. They were aboard two helicopters from the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
At exactly 2.30pm the funeral procession, which included church members and members of the Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial executive, was joined by other mourners on the journey to Nkala’s farm in Esigodini.
The long winding funeral cortege led by the police arrived at the farm at 3pm where scores of villagers who are neighbours to Nkala were gathered.
The mourners were welcomed by outgoing Matabeleland South Governor Angeline Masuku, outgoing Deputy President of the Senate Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu and Politburo member Abednico Ncube.
A brief funeral service for Nkala, who was now a born again Christian, was conducted at the farm by pastors from his church, Harvest House International in collaboration with ZNA Bulawayo district senior chaplain Major Elphas Dube.
After the service villagers in the area were afforded the opportunity to view the body.
Provincial Administrator Mr Midard Khumalo announced that the Government has availed five buses to ferry mourners from different parts of the province to the National Heroes Acre where Nkala will be buried tomorrow.
He said the buses would transport mourners from Nkala’s home area in Silalatshani, Insiza district, Gwanda, Umzingwane, Bulilima and Mangwe.
Nkala’s body was later on taken to his Woodlands House at Number 9 Eastwood Road where scores of mourners who included Zanu-PF Politburo member Joshua Malinga were gathered. Zapu leader Dr Dumiso Dabengwa later on joined the mourners.
In an interview, the Nkala family spokesperson, Mr Hebert Nkala, expressed gratitude to the honour given to their father and thanked the mourners for supporting the family in its moment of grief.
“Everything is now working according to the programme. We are glad that we are here at home and that we were met by senior dignitaries from Government and the party who escorted us all the way to Esigodini,” said Mr Nkala.
He said it was important for Nkala’s body to pass by his Esigodini farm saying the place had spiritual significance.
“Most family members including baba Nkala’s parents Ugogo uMaDube and khulu Mzomubi were buried there. If he was not going to be declared a national hero he was going to be buried at that farm.
“We are in Bulawayo now and baba’s body will lie in state at his house and tomorrow we will be giving him a big send off. We expect large crowds to attend his farewell funeral service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) grounds at Hall Eight between 8am and 12noon,” said Mr Nkala.
He said Nkala’s body will be flown back to Harare at about 3pm today for burial at the national shrine tomorrow.
The outspoken Zanu-PF founder member and former Defence, Finance and Home Affairs Minister, Nkala, succumbed to renal failure at Avenues Clinic in Harare last week at the age of 81 and was declared a national hero.
Nkala, who was born in Filabusi, Matabeleland South, was one of the founders of Zanu as the party was formed at his house, 4449 Highfields, Harare in 1963. He was the party’s first treasurer and held the post until his resignation from politics. During the war he served in the party’s high command.
He was detained by the Rhodesian government for 12 years with leaders such as Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopold Takawira, Edgar Tekere, Morris Nyagumbo, all late and President Mugabe.
At independence in 1980 Nkala was appointed Minister of Finance and later Minister of National Supplies. He also served as Minister of Home Affairs and then Defence.
Nkala resigned from Government in 1989 at the height of the Willowgate scandal, which involved the acquisition of several motor vehicles from Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries by individuals in Government.
The vehicles were then sold at exorbitant prices in a market that was starved of new vehicles. Last year Nkala said he was bitter about the way he was forced to leave politics in 1989 insisting that he chose to resign rather than appear before the Wilson Sandura Commission because he was not wrong.
Since then he was not active in politics until his death.
Nkala is survived by wife, Thandiwe, eight children, six grand children and two great grand children. The Chronicle