Tendai Mugabe and Abigail Mawonde
Government has agreed to honour Zanla’s military commander and liberation war hero General Josiah Magama Tongogara by renaming King George VI Barracks after him.
In a speech read on his behalf by Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi in Harare yesterday to mark the 35th anniversary of the death of Gen Tongogara, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said a monument would also be erected in Mozambique in his honour.
This comes at a time when consultations are underway with the Mangena family to rename the National Defence College after Zipra commander Cde Alfred Nikita Mangena.
VP Mnangagwa described Gen Tongogara who was affectionately known as General Tongo as an inspirational leader.
“In remembrance of the great work he did, we have agreed that KGVI Barracks will be named after him,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“In addition to this, a cenotaph will soon be erected in Mozambique, in memory of this great warrior.
“The late General is a source of inspiration to all of us. No words can thank him enough for the role he played for the liberation of this country.”
VP Mnangagwa said Gen Tongogara played a central role in the establishment of sound relationship between Zanla forces and Frelimo of Mozambique.
He said it was important to introspect on whether the country was doing enough to fulfil General Tongogara’s aspirations.
“As we so cherish his vision and leadership, we need to question ourselves whether we are candidly living up to those expatiations,” he said.
“We need to reflect on what should be done to achieve full consolidation of our independence as he would have so wished.”
VP Mnangagwa presented a glowing account of the late General’s history describing him as a great tactician whose prowess and fighting dexterity led to the independence of Zimbabwe.
He said ironically, Gen Tongogara once stayed at a farm owned by Ian Smith’s parents where he was exposed to diabolic white racism and repression.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, who also attended the commemorations, said Gen Tongogara was a revered commander.
He said Gen Tongogara’s legacy would continue to live amongst Zimbabweans.
“Heroes do not die, they just fade away,” he said.
“To us Cde Tongo will always remain with us. Everyday which passes by, we think we are having him, when we do something good we refer that to his good command and to the dedication which he demonstrated.”
In line with Gen Tongogara’s principled stance, Gen Chiwenga urged Zimbabweans to remain resolute and jealously safeguard the country’s independence.
He called upon the remaining nine members of the Zanla High Command who worked with Gen Tongogara not to compromise the country’s rich legacy for the love of money.
“To the colleagues who are former members of the High Command, we are nine of us now left in the entire Zanla, you should never tire and never sell the revolution, never under any circumstances,” he said.
“It does not matter how much you have been offered, it does not matter what you can be promised to be in life. Let us keep the legacy of our commander and then we pass on the baton to the next generation so that Zimbabwe remains Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin also paid homage to Gen Tongogara.
“Gen Tongogara, a son of this country, has strong links with China,” he said.
“I am told he was one of the best students to train in China.”
He said during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle Beijing assisted Harare with both moral and material support.
The commemoration of General Tongogara was organised by the Josiah Magama Tongogara Legacy Foundation.
The foundation was established in 2012 by Gen Tongogara’s widow Mrs Angeline Kumbirai Tongogara and its trustees comprise prominent people who worked closely with the late General including Ambassador Simbi Mubako.
Ambassadors, several senior Government officials and members of the Tongogara family attended the event.