President Robert Mugabe who was taken by Tekere to Mozambique to join the liberation war did not attend as he is in South Africa attending a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Afrca (Comesa) meeting which is expected to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis on the side lines.
“He was a man of courage, the courage to confront what he did not like, he defended the dignity of the people and had the courage to stand up for the oppressed and rights of other people,” said the Tekere family spokesperson, Stephen Kada.“Any abuse of the people was met by a violent reaction from Two-Boy.”
Kada also broke the news of Nkala’s illness much to the surprise of Zanu (PF) members, most of whom have been out of touch with Nkala.
Nkala and Mugabe are among the few surviving founding members of Zanu (PF) at a house in Highfield, Harare.
“Enos Nkala is one of Tekere’s great friends, he was meant to be here but he is very ill and we miss him here,” said Kada.
Zanu (PF) spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said of Nkala’s sickness. “I have heard it today that Comrade Nkala is not feeling well. I shall make a follow up and find out how he is feeling,’’ said Gumbo.
Nkala was a close friend of Tekere. The two wrote books about their liberation experiences. Tekere’s biography, A Lifetime of Struggle, has already been released. It led to his expulsion from the party after his readmission in 2005. Nkala has written a book which will be released after his death. In his eulogy, Kanda said the Tekere family wanted to thank Nkala for remaining a true friend of Tekere.
Acting President John Nkomo who delivered the key note speech admitted that Tekere deserved to be a national hero despite Zanu (PF)’s hesitation to accord him national hero status.
“The question upper most everyone’s mind was how Zanu (PF) would react to his death. In between Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the nation waited anxiously to hear what Zanu (PF) was going to say. There was jubilation and celebration when he was accorded national hero status,” said Nkomo in a speech dominated by careful remarks about a man who for many years proved to be a pain for Zanu (PF).
“He deserved to be a national hero. He was the people’s hero. How could Zanu (PF) be expected to decide otherwise, the history of Zimbabwe can never be written without chronicling the life of Tekere. Zanu (PF) knew everything about him in spite of everything that might have happened in his later life,” said Nkomo.
He described him as not a sell-out during the liberation struggle and a principled man.
“There was no way Zanu (PF) could deny national heroes status to Tekere as he has rich liberation history and was jailed for 10 years in different prisons around the country.
Tekere was re-admitted in Zanu (PF) in 2006 after his expulsion in 1988.
Thousands attended Tekere burial at national heroes acre among them were several senior Zanu (PF) and MDC officials including Athur Mutambara.
Tekere, a maverick character was a close ally of Mugabe during the early years of independence and worked in his government as Minister of Labour and Manpower planning between 1980 and 1989.
Tekere was never shy to criticise the status quo. He criticised Zanu (PF)’s heavy handed rule since 1980 and was expelled from the party from being outspoken.
Despite his colourful history, Tekere at one point in his life lived a life of a pauper depending on cash handouts to survive. He made this revelation at a Quill Club Speak two years ago.
Tekere popularly known as “Two Boy” was Mugabe’s ally during the Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle during the fight for independence against the Rhodesian forces of Ian Smith. He formed his own ZUM in the late 90’s after he denounced Zanu (PF) plans for a one party state.
Tekere repeatedly said he did not want to be buried at the national heroes’ acre where war veterans from Zanu (PF) are buried. He said he did not want to be buried amongst ‘thieves and crooks’, referring to officials from Zanu (PF) buried at the national heroes’ acre.
Tekere died on Monday at Murambi Garden Clinic in Mutare after a long battle with prostate cancer.