By Advocate Nelson Chamisa (MP)
On a Tuesday, the 27th of April 1971, a soldier was born in Zimbabwe. To most of us Cde Thamsanga Mahlangu was a loving brother, dedicated comrade, decorated compatriot, solid pillar and excellent leader, all rolled in one.
Cde Tham Mahlangu’s consistency, candidness, loyalty, humility and commitment define his short but revolutionary life contribution. Oh what an illustrious son of the soil he was.
Cde Mahlangu was a founder member of the people’s party of excellence emerging from the Labour background, having proven his leadership prowess, a representative acumen and ambassadorial gravitas in the Zimbabwe Furniture Workers Union.
Cde Mahlangu was one of the first cadres to spearhead the formation of the MDC in 1999.
At the inaugural Party congress, held at the Aquatic Centre, Mahlangu was elected into the youth Assembly NEC, the supreme decision making body.
Cde Mahlangu served as the national executive member, being the representative of Bulawayo province in the National Executive of the Youth Assembly.
He later rose to become the deputy National Chairperson of the youth assembly upon replacing the then Deputy National Chairperson Cde Mathula Lusinga who had gone into exile on account of political persecution.
Cde Mathula Lusinga was placed on trumped up charges together with the late Fletcher Dulini Ncube, Kethani Sibanda and Remember Moyo to mention but a few.
As my deputy and second commander in the youth assembly, we assigned Cde Thamsanga to the lead and head our delegations to Europe and the Scandinavian countries.
In early 2000, we were admitted into the progressive and global youth organization of all social democrats worldwide – the International Union of the Socialist Youth.
‘Nduna’ as we used to call him would also lead the Representation to the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY). He represented us well.
When the party hit some turbulence upon the October 2005 fallout, Cde Mahlangu remained consistent. I remember Cdes, the late Gertrude Mthombeni, Thabitha Khumalo, Lovemore Ndodana Moyo, Thoko and Thamsanga Mahlangu being the leaders from the southern region, who remained as the nucleus leadership to stir the people’s party forward.
Cde Mahlangu understood the meaning of adversity, the struggle and hardship. He did not bury his head in the sand but confronted life’s challenges head on. He perished self for the good and preservation of many and if not all.
We shared a common vision, we shared ideals and values, we shared a collective goal, we shared moments happy and sorrowful, we shared combat, we shared strategies and tactics. Above all, we shared a destiny, that oneness and comradeship. It is that sort of camaraderie which shaped every one of our steps all the way.
Cde Mahlangu would easily shed tears in defence of his principled positions in meetings or private conversations. Such was the character of this passionate and emotional revolutionary. He was a man of great and deep feelings.
Yes, feelings of great love and unity. I witnessed his tears. They were tears of hope; Of a New and better Zimbabwe in which we would have new names, of democracy and liberty from poverty. His sweat and tears constitute the fountain from which we shall all continue to draw our inspiration until the soon to come final victory.
Cde Mahlangu bequeathed us a key Ubuntu lesson that none of us is better than all of us. We are because you are and I am. The democrat further cross pollinated love. Any human being is useful to another.
He taught us that the best way to respond to our haters is to love them. Cde Mahlangu taught and lived love. He taught that giving is an expression of love. He educated that Love is an expression of a gift. He gave his all and gave his life. What a precious gift!!
At the City Sports Centre, Harare Congress of 2006, when I graduated from the youth leadership I paved the way for him to rise to become National youth Leader. His rise was without effort on account of his impeccable record as a loyal cadre of the People’s movement.
Some will recall how badly he was assaulted and survived an assassination attempt by Zanu PF 2008 near the HARARE show grounds and Rainbow Towers. He was arrested several times on politically motivated charges.
At the Bulawayo Babourfields congress in June 2011, Nduna contested for the position of Deputy Organising Secretary against Cde Abedinego Bhebhe. Cde Thamsanga prevailed not but remained loyal to the party ethos and values.
Upon becoming the National Organising Secretary in 2011, we co-opted Tham into the national Organising Committee. Cde Thamsanga Mahlangu did not disappoint as he was on duty and on time all the time building a party and structures of excellence countrywide
Again, when the party lost some of its comrades at the second fallout in 2014, Cde Mahlangu remained fastened and steadfast to the revolution and democratic trajectory we set for ourselves.
At the city sports centre 2014 congress, Cde Mahlangu was elected Deputy Organising secretary, a position he held until his tragic passing on.
In parliament, he served under various portfolio committees. Until the time of this untimely departure Tham was also serving as our official representative to the ACP/ EU in Brussels after I requested him to replace me owing to my other extra-parliamentary commitments.
Cde Mahlangu served exceptionally well and excellently in all stations of deployment including in National standing committee, National executive, as deputy minister of youth in Government and as Nkulumane Member of Parliament.
His record as a people’s soldier is unquestionable. His label as a revolutionary is beyond contestation. His status as a generational and national hero admits no debate.
We the people have lost a true son of the soil. Indeed he was a committed ambassador of the people of Nkulumane, constantly in touch and working on developmental projects with the people.
The genuine and the committed sleep young and green. You have gone to sleep too soon Mufo wethu.
What makes me less anxious though is that you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior of your life. You knew Jesus Christ as the messenger of the new covenant and the power of of His resurrection.
Ngiyakhukhumbula umgani wami. Hamba kuhle qawe lama qawe. Nduna yezinduna. Commander of Commanders!
Advocate Nelson Chamisa is a former ICT Minister in the coalition government of 2009-2013 and the current MDC-T MP for Kuwadzana in Harare.