By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
29 May 2014
Former guerrilla commander Wilfred Mhanda, known by his liberation war name Dzinashe Machingura, has died, his close friend said on Thursday.
Happyson Nenji, a Zimbabwe Liberation Platform board member confirmed to SW Radio Africa that Mhanda died at Parirenyatwa hospital on Wednesday evening.
He said Mhanda, a liberation war icon, who is best known for opposing Robert Mugabe taking over the ZANU PF leadership in Mozambique, had been suffering from cancer.
‘He finished his chemotherapy sometime back, but he had accumulated bodily fluids from the chemo which his doctor suggested should be drained. As a result he checked himself in hospital on Tuesday and on Wednesday we had a chat over the phone mid afternoon, only to be told four hours later that he has passed away,’ Nenji said.
Burial arrangements would be announced when his younger brother arrives from South Africa and consults other family members. During the liberation war, Mhanda worked alongside former ZANU PF chairman Herbert Chitepo, General Josiah Tongogara, General Solomon Mujuru, and Air Marshall Josiah Tungamira.
The current crop of the service chiefs surrounding President Robert Mugabe were all his juniors. He joined the war in 1971, trained in China and became a military instructor, before he was promoted to political commissar and then a ZANLA commander.
In 1975 he joined the ZANLA high command and was in charge of both political and military training, but his famous disagreement with Mugabe on January 21st, 1977 saw him being detained until January 1980.
He remained a sworn enemy of Mugabe since Independence, a relationship that saw him failing to gain any employment in Zimbabwe. Mhanda, in his book Memories of a Freedom Fighter, he revealed his life in Mozambique and how he felt betrayed by both the late Solomon Mujuru and Mugabe.
In 2000, along with other ex-combatants, Mhanda helped form the Zimbabwe Liberators’ Platform to organise and fight for the rights of the country’s genuine war veterans.