PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has conferred national hero status on liberation stalwart Cde Highten Nkomo, who died a fortnight ago.
He was 70.
A former member of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) High Command and first commander of the Mkushi Women Training Camp, Cde Nkomo died at his homestead in the Dengu area of Gwanda District near Manama on September 14.
In his condolence message yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he learnt with “deep grief and sorrow” the news of the passing on of Cde Nkomo, one of the veterans of the war of liberation.
Cde Nkomo, whose nom de guerre was Cde Billy Mazamo, was born to Zimbabwean parents who relocated to Zambia after being forced off their land in Tsholotsho by the settler regime, and never set foot in the then Rhodesia except as a freedom fighter.
“He dropped out of school in Zambia in Form 2 to join the liberation struggle in the late 60s,” said President Mnangagwa.
Cde Nkomo was one of the early ZIPRA cadres that included the likes of the late Major General (Retired) Jevan Maseko, Brigadier General (Retired) Abel Mazinyane, the late Colonel (Retired) Masala Sibanda, and others, who trained at Morogoro in Tanzania in the period 1969 to 1970.
He later trained as a military engineer in the now defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and thereafter, commanded various liberation camps including Chakwenga Transit Camp, through which Zanu PF Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Commander Defence Forces General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, and many others, passed as recruits.
President Mnangagwa said in 1976, Cde Nkomo was sent to Mgagao, Tanzania, as a Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) instructor where ZIPRA and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) cadres jointly trained and worked with the likes of national heroes, Chief Air Marshal (Retired) Perrance Shiri, Lieutenant General (Retired) Amoth Chingombe and Cde Gagisa Sibanda.
In 1977, he was appointed to open and command Mkushi Women Training Camp after which he upheld his illustrious career and contribution to the struggle as ZIPRA Deputy Chief of Training.
“In recognition of his contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe, loyalty to our nation and unwavering membership to the revolutionary party, Zanu PF, I have granted Cde Highten Nkomo national hero status.
“On behalf of Government, Zanu PF party, my family and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the Nkomo family following the loss of their loved one.
“May they take comfort from the knowledge that their loss is shared by the whole nation in whose service he sacrificed and contributed immensely. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace,” said President Mnangagwa.