By Vusumuzi Dube
Differences have emerged within the family of the late former Vice-President, Dr Joshua Nkomo over the use of his name and legacy.
The clash is reportedly pitting Dr Nkomo’s son, Sibangilizwe on one side and daughter, Mrs Thandi Nkomo-Ebrahim on the other.
This was exposed last week when Mr Sibangilizwe Nkomo released a scathing Press statement where he attacked an organisation going by the name Joshua Nkomo National Foundation (JNNF) for using the late Father Zimbabwe’s name and legacy for what he described as mischievous political and financial gain.
Ironically, Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim is a trustee of the foundation representing the Nkomo family. In the Press release, Mr Nkomo says that Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim has no standing to represent the family in the foundation as she is not the head of the family.
“On behalf of the Joshua Nkomo family and the Nyongolo clan, we have been following some disturbing events and developments where we have witnessed the abuse and political exploitation of our father and icon, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo’s name, by some unscrupulous and dubious characters and individuals in the Joshua Nkomo National Foundation who allegedly claim that they have the blessings and approval of one of our family members and sister, Mrs Thandiwe Nkomo-Ebrahim.
“A case in point is the manner in which a so-called 2020 Joshua Nkomo Memorial Lecture that was clandestinely virtually delivered was organised and handled. The same people in the JNNF deliberately hijacked an on-going programme to use it as a platform to settle their political scores with the Government,” said Mr Nkomo.
He accused the foundation of bringing Dr Nkomo’s name into disrepute, and also being bent on destroying and tarnishing the Dr Joshua Nkomo brand and image, for their “selfish gains and sinister motives”. Mr Nkomo’s sentiments came after a virtual Joshua Nkomo Memorial Public Lecture was held by the foundation on Independence Day.
The public lecture’s main speaker was Mr Siphosami Malunga, the executive director of South Africa-based Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa Initiative (Osisa). In his statement, Mr Nkomo singled out Mr Mmillili Evans Tapela, who was once part of the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust, which he said was recognised by the family.
“For the uninitiated, the lecture series the JNNF has tried to hijack and purport to have initiated, are a product of the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust of which Tapela was once a member but was unanimously dismissed due to transgressions he did which in the end, brought a lot of trouble for the organisation.
“So, in essence, he has simply stolen ideas that he was exposed to and is now trying to use it for his selfish personal gain, chiefly, in financial terms. The said lecture that Mr Malunga delivered was organised that the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust only learnt of the said lecture via social media and otherwise,” said Mr Nkomo.
Contacted for comment, Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim said while she was aware of Mr Nkomo’s Press release she had nothing to say on the matter. “I have no comment on that matter,” she said.
Sunday News managed to get in touch with Mr Tapela who hit back at Mr Nkomo saying the foundation was working with all the blessings of the Nkomo family, who were also part of the board of trustees.
“I am the director-general of JNNF working under a permanent contract reporting to the Board of Trustees of JNNF of which Mrs Thandiwe Nkomo-Ebrahim is an executive trustee. The mentioned Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project, was in fact, a project started by joint collaboration between the JNNF and the Joshua Nkomo Cultural Movement which they then hijacked to form a Trust.
“As far as intellectual capital, the trustees and all stakeholders know my capabilities and my track record — mine is to deliver on the mandate and we are working, that is what we do. If you look at past reports on the public lecture, it was my doing,” said Mr Tapela.
He expressed shock that Mr Nkomo was distancing himself from the 2020 public lecture by Mr Malunga, claiming that he (Mr Nkomo) had actually made a call to Mr Malunga commending him for delivering a powerful lecture.
“We will continue to deliver on our mandate — offering a platform for dialogue on pertinent societal issues. Look out for another powerful lecture on Africa Day,” said a defiant Mr Tapela. Sunday News