By Daniso Sibanda in Bulawayo
The controversial statue of the late vice president Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo will be re-erected in Bulawayo’s city centre after Zanu PF bigwigs agreed to put up the giant North Korean designed effigy.
Zanu PF officials said President Robert Mugabe appointed Environment Minister Francis Nhema who is Nkomo’s son-in-law to be in charge of the raising of statue along Main Street.
The statue was removed last year following widespread outcry by the Nkomo family but latest details show that the family has backtracked following Nhema’s persuasion. The soft-spoken Nhema is married to Louise Sehlule, one of the late nationalist’s daughters.
In the past two months, sources said Nhema, who chairs the Joshua Nkomo Foundation, has been making frequent visits to Bulawayo where he also met senior politicians to lobby for the re-erection of the statue, which drew anger from the Nkomo and Bulawayo community because it was made in North Korea—a country known for training the notorious 5th Brigade soldiers who killed over 20 000 civilians, raping 60 000 women.
Nhema met vice president John Nkomo, politburo members, Joshua Malinga, Eunice Sandi and Angeline Masuku as he drummed up support for the statue to be re-erected.
After the uprooting of the statue, it was later agreed that it would be put at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport on the outskirts of Bulawayo but there were reservations that the public would not be able to view it since it will be kilometers away.
“It’s a matter of time before the statue is put back along Main Street. Zanu PF doesn’t want to be seen as failures by conceding to pressure from the Nkomo family and the people of Matabeleland,” said a top Zanu PF official.
The latest revelation to re-erect the statue comes against a backdrop of efforts by former Zipra commanders to block the move, saying Mugabe, 87, should first return Zipra buildings to its rightful owners. Some of the buildings include Magnet House, which houses the dreaded CIOs in Bulawayo.
Although Nhema was not answering his mobile phone Thursday, a politburo meeting Wednesday vowed that the statue would be erected again.