Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Government has officially named the cantonment which houses the Zimbabwe National Defence University and other institutions the Rodgers Alfred Nikita Mangena Barracks. Presiding at the ceremony yesterday, President Mnangagwa said similar events would be held across the country. He said 3 Infantry Brigade in Mutare headquarters would be named after the late national hero Cde Herbert Chitepo and Fylde Airforce base in Chegutu after the late Cde Jaison Ziyaphapha Moyo.
“The naming of this institution after one of Zimbabwe’s gallant military heroes is in line with provisions in our Amendment (No 2, Act of 2013 and Section 23 (1) which exhorts the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level, to accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle,” he said.
“Today’s ceremony is the second of its kind, following the renaming of former KGVI Barracks to Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks. A good name is more desirable than great riches”, hence it is indeed befitting after the late Cde Rodgers Alfred Nikita Mangena, who was a very fine gentleman and a commander in Zimbabwe’s war of liberation who paid the ultimate price for country.”
“He was indisputably one of the towering figures in the history of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle as the Commander of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA).
“The late Cde Rodgers Alfred Nikita Mangena was an embodiment of military professionalism, unity of purpose and a chief strategist par excellence.”
President Mnangagwa said Cde Mangena was one of the pioneering guerrilla cadres who laid the foundation for the formation of a formidable guerrilla fighting machine known as ZIPRA and was credited with introducing flotillas across Zambezi thereby easing the logistical problems associated with moving personnel across the mighty river.
He said Cde Mangena was also credited with coordinating a strategy involving intelligence, training and reconnaissance as well as deployment and logistics support.
Cde Mangena, he said, did not take kindly to cadres who lost their weapons as he ordered them replacement from the enemy.
“On the academic front, he was instrumental in ensuring that his cadres got academic scholarships to study worldwide. This was in addition to ensuring that ZIPRA sent its cadres abroad for officers’ and conventional warfare training as early as 1977,” he said.
“This short chronicle of the military acumen and tactical prowess of the late Cde Mangena portrays a man who lived well beyond his time, and is amply testimony that shows why, as Government, we found it befitting to name this cantonment in his honour.”
“This is the kind of leadership and vision that those who pass through this barracks should strive to emulate. They should be further inspired by the life and the ideals of the late Cde Mangena. I further urge all men and women who come through here to be highly innovative and self-actualised individuals who can survive under the severest of conditions and deliver results ‘beyond military horizons’ for the benefit of the country.”
Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), who also administers the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, commended President Mnangagwa for holding the ceremony before the country celebrates its 38th Independence next week Wednesday.
He chronicled Cde Mangena’s exploits in the liberation struggle.
“We are happy that your defence forces who are currently serving, and those who were demobilised in the early 80’s will rest in the solace that one of the gallant fighters and commanders of the liberation of Zimbabwe has finally been honoured,” he said.
A representative of the Mangena family, Mr Lotshe Mangena thanked President Mnangagwa, Government and the people of Zimbabwe for honouring his father.
“Your Excellency, we thank you most sincerely for having spared time on your extremely busy schedule to be able to come and preside over the renaming of this prestigious campus.
The renaming of this cantonment after my father is a very humbling honour to the Mangena family,” he said. “We are indeed humbled remain grateful for this befitting honour.”