Tongogara family speaks out
The family of Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) Commander General Josiah Magama Tongogara has said details disclosed by Defence and War Veterans Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Acting Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo had enlightened them on what actually transpired during the road accident that claimed the hero in Mozambique.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri and Lt-Gen Chimonyo explained what happened on the day during the 2018 annual commemoration of Cde Tongogara’s death at the National Heroes Acre on Wednesday.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri was in the same vehicle as Gen Tongogara when he died in the accident, which occurred in Massinga District, Inhambane Province, Mozambique, on December 26, 1979 soon after the Lancaster House Agreement which gave birth to independent Zimbabwe, while Lt-Gen Chimonyo was the first to open the vehicle after the accident.
She dismissed claims that she killed Gen Tongogara, saying there was nothing sinister about the accident.
Claims that Gen Tongogara was killed by fellow party members were escalated by the CIA through a briefing on December 28, 1979 and Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith who wrote in his memoirs that “Tongogara’s own people killed him”.
In an interview with ZBC News, Gen Tongogara’s widow, Senator Angeline Tongogara said such information will help bring closure to the narrative.
She said she was happy that the key witnesses had made revelations on what transpired on the fateful day.
“Yaingova yekunzi, aaah vakaita accident, aaah vakaita accident asi kuti unyatsowana kuti tsanangudzo yacho yekuti accident yacho yakambofamba seiko, zvigagozodini zvigagozodini,” she said
Sen Tongogara paid tribute to the new Government for efforts made so far in honouring Gen Tongogara. Gen Tongo’s children — Hondo, Tichafa, Bvumai and Nyaradzo — said they never had a chance to be with their father during the liberation struggle, adding that the revelations made gave them an opportunity to appreciate their father better.
They said the revelations made were very informative.
Bvumai said: “They kind of shed light on how our father passed on and everything. I think it was very informative.”
Nyaradzo chipped in: “We had a one-on-one account from the witnesses that were there. So it was really touching and quite emotional and it made the day more special for us.”
Tichafa said: “We heard a few details about the passing of our father that we hadn’t heard before. Some of those details we never knew and it’s good that at least some of the stuff has been said.”
Social media platforms had been awash with claims that Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri had a hand in Gen Tongagara’s death.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri, who broke down as she narrated how the accident occurred, said the accident was caused by a truck which was towing a trailer that was in front of their vehicle.
“The truck was in the middle of the road and heading in the same direction,” said the Defence Minister.
“As our driver was about to overtake, our vehicle was blocked by the trailer resulting in the accident that killed Cde Tongogara. I didn’t kill him,” she said.
She said history has been distorted for long, hence the need to set the record straight.
Lt-Gen Chimonyo also poured his heart out on the great loss Zimbabwe suffered as a result of the death of Gen Tongo.
He said he was the first person to open the door of the vehicle that the general was travelling in after the accident.
During an interview in April last year, Cde Emelda Musanhu (born 1954), whose Chimurenga name was Cde Suzan Rutanhire, narrated what transpired when Gen Tongogara died. She was a member of General Staff stationed at Chimoio Camp in Mozambique.
“The day that Cde Tongo died, his son, I think he is called Bvumai, had actually spoken about it. Cde Tongo had been given the responsibility after Lancaster to go around bases informing all the comrades about the ceasefire. So as he was leaving, his son, Bvumai said ‘Baba musaende, mukaenda hamusi kudzoka’.
“I think he was around three years by that time. Cde Tongo said ‘aiwa kani Bvumai, ndinodzoka mwanangu’.”
Cde Suzan added, “Yes, he said ‘baba musaende, mukaenda hamusi kudzoka’. After this, Cde Tongo delayed leaving vachiti ‘Regai mwana atange atomborara nekuti ndiri kuti ndikangoda kusimuka ari kubva amuka achiti baba musaende’.”
“I don’t even know kuti ‘mwana akanga afemerwa nei? Later Bvumai fell asleep and Cde Tongo and his team left. We then heard that Cde Tongo had died in an accident. I remember maiguru Mai Tongo saying ‘Asi nhai Bvumai mwanangu, ndizvo zvawanga uchireva here kuti baba mukaenda hamudzoki? Ndizvo here izvi mwanangu?’ Mai Tongo was in pain so I was told ‘kuenda kunovanyaradza’.”