President remembers Samora Machel The late Samora Machel

Political Editor

ZIMBABWE will forever cherish and remember the late Mozambican founding father Cde Samora Machel, who offered the country a base to wage the liberation struggle that ended colonial rule in 1980, President Mnangagwa said.

Wednesday marked the 36th anniversary of the death of Cde Machel, the African liberation icon whose country supported the independence of several countries in the region, Zimbabwe included.

In an interview at the Harare International Conference Centre on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said Cde Machel was a revolutionary and African icon.

“He was one man we in Zimbabwe revered beyond mere understanding. Mozambique became independent, surrounded by South Africa and Rhodesia. We were fighting to liberate ourselves, despite the fact that Mozambique was an infant independent country President Samora Machel took the bold decision to allow us to come to Mozambique and wage our armed struggle from Mozambique taking the risk of bombardment from Rhodesian air force and South Africa air force.

Mozambique attained its independence from Portugal in 1974, and under Cde Machel it soon assumed the role of providing a launch-pad for the liberation of its neighbours.

“He felt that as long as Zimbabwe was not independent the independence of Mozambique was not complete, this was a man whom the imperialists in Salisbury and in Pretoria did not want, they wanted to remove him by any means and on the 19th of October they diverted his plane, as he was flying from Mbala in northern Zambia, where they had gone for a meeting with President Kaunda. We therefore revere and continue to remember him as a gallant hero for our country, for the region and the continent,” said the President.

Cde Machel, the first president of Mozambique, died on October 19, 1986, when a Soviet-crewed Tupolev 134A carrying his entourage back from a regional summit crashed on a hillside in Mbuzini north-eastern South Africa. There were only nine survivors among the 44 people on board.

The cause of the air crash has remained a mystery. On one hand Western governments backed the South African story, that blamed a piloting error, but the Soviet Union and Mozambique believed the plane had been led off course by a VOR (very high frequency omni-directional range) signal, a decoy beacon transmitting on the same frequency as Maputo airport, which had a power failure that night.

Although Mozambique and the Soviet Union demanded an on-site investigation, South Africa, then under apartheid rule dithered, including protests even from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It did not hand over the black box until five months after the crash.

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