Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
PAN-Africanist and founding member of the December 12 Movement, Randolph Simms, also known as Cde Coltrane Chimurenga, was laid to rest at the Harare Provincial Heroes’ Acre yesterday. Speaker-after-speaker described Cde Chimurenga as a selfless cadre who sacrificed his entire life to fight for the emancipation of black people.
Zanu-PF secretary for External Affairs Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who worked closely with Cde Chimurenga, described him as a rare revolutionary cadre, a dedicated pan-Africanist and a true son of the soil whose love for Zimbabwe will remain etched in the annals of Zimbabwean history.
“He was a selfless cadre who decided to fight for the interest of Zimbabwe during and after independence,” said Cde Mumbengegwi.
He described Cde Chimurenga as a vibrant pan-Africanist who worked tirelessly to promote the rights of black people from the early 1960s to the time of his death.
“After our independence he was seen in the forefront of those that rejected the negative narrative which was being perpetrated against Zimbabwe, especially as it related to our revolutionary land reform programme.
“Some elements in the US who tried to create an anti-Zimbabwe forum were neutralised by Cde Chimurenga together with the December 12 Movement.
“His untimely departure is a loss to the cause of our country and the defence of the Zimbabwean revolution. Before he died, he indicated that he wanted to be buried in Zimbabwe because he loved the country so much.
“He used to be very angry with us when we referred to him as an Afro- American as he said he was a Zimbabwean,” he said.
Cde Mumbengegwi met Cde Chimurenga in 1990 when the former became ambassador to the United Nations and they worked closely for five years.
The former Foreign Affairs Minister said Cde Chimurenga worked with Cde Tirivafi Kangai, who incidentally gave him the name Chimurenga.
“He decided to promote the interest of Zimbabwe in Europe and the United States of America despite the harsh political conditions in his home country in America.
“The December 12 Movement was considered as an opponent in their own country because of their support to liberate the rights of the black people.
“The December 12 Movement do their best to bring supplies of food and medicines to the less privileged society, whenever they visited the country especially during Zanu-PF’s annual conference,” said Cde Mumbengegwi.
Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Oliver Chidawu described Cde Chimurenga as civil rights campaigner and a staunch ally of the ruling party Zanu-PF.
“The late firebrand civil right campaigner was a staunch ally of the ruling party, Zanu-PF. During the late 1960s at the height of the Black Power Movement, the late Cde Chimurenga organised the struggle in Oakland, California, before teaching at San Francisco State which had developed the first black studies programmes in the United States of America.
“While Cde Chimurenga was there, he met the late Cde Tirivafi Kangai who was our diplomatic representative to the USA, and was given the name Chimurenga,” said the minister.
Zanu-PF Secretary for War Veterans Cde Douglas Mahiya said there is need for the current generation to understand Zimbabwe’s history.
Chairperson of the December 12 Movement Mrs Viola Plummer hailed President Emmerson Mnangagwa for respecting the late pan-Africanist’s wishes in addition to according him hero status.
Family representative Camillo Simms was full of praise for his father for fighting tirelessly for the emancipation of the black people.
He also hailed the President for recognising the role played by his father during and after the liberation struggle.
The late Cde Chimurenga was a key organiser of the West Coast rally for the first African Liberation Day demonstrations held in Washington, DC; San Francisco and the Caribbean in May 1972.
Whilst continuing his political activism, he earned a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University and began work on a Doctorate in Business.
During that time, he was a leading cadre of the African People’s Revolutionary Party and the principal organiser of the Defence Committee formed when its chairperson Muhammad Ahmed was arrested for his political activism.
In the 1980s, Cde Chimurenga moved to the East Coast where he helped to organise the New Africa Freedom Fighters. He also began working closely with a group of black revolutionaries called the Sunrise Collective. This brought him under the intense scrutiny of the FBI which led to his arrest in 1984 in a case which was to be known as the New York8+ against African terrorism. The political trial backfired on the US Attorney Rudolph Giulian by exposing the illegal surveillance of political activists and led to its defeat at the trial.
Following the NY8+victory, Cde Chimurenga urged the black community to be self-determined and to close crack houses by all means.
In 1987, community leaders such as Viola Plummer, Sonny Abudadika, Elombe Brath, Father Laurence Lucus and Cde Chimurenga formed the December 12 Movement in response to the increased murders and attacks on black people across New York State by the police and white sup- remacists.
Under his leadership, the December 12 Movement organised days of outrage which brought New York City to a standstill.
His fearless leadership earned him the title “Field Marshal”.
In 2000, the December 12 Movement organised a historic “Support Zimbabwe” meeting with former president Robert Mugabe, which was attended by 4 000 people in Harlem. The organisation also fought against the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001 that was passed by the USA government to overthrow the Zanu-PF led Government and reverse the land reform programme.
Six members of the December 12 Movement including Plummer and his two sons — Camilo and Amilcar — were at yesterday’s burial.