On Saturday 12 April 1986, before a crowd of tens of thousands who had gathered to pay their last respects to former ZIPRA Commander Lt Gen Lookout “Mafela” Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku in Bulawayo , the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo delivered a powerful and emotional speech.
It was a speech of how Zimbabwe was losing direction, and most parts of the speech remain relevant today:
“Those who rule our country know inside themselves that Lookout played a very big part in winning our struggle.
And yet they let him die in prison.
I say he died in prison because he died on that bed on which he was detained.
It was not possible for him to leave that bed and it was not possible for you to see him.
Therefore, I say he died in prison.
Why should men like Lookout and Dumiso, after being found innocent of any wrongdoing by the highest court in this land remain detained? When we ask we get the same answer from the Minister as we used to get from the Smith regime.
Mafela, Lookout, after all his sacrifices, died a pauper in our own hands.
We cannot blame colonialism and imperialism for this tragedy.
We who fought against these things now practise them.
Why? Why? Why? We are enveloped in the politics of hate.
The amount of hate that is being preached today in this country is frightful.
What Zimbabwe fought for was peace, progress, love, respect, justice, equality, not the opposite.
And one of the worst evils we see today is corruption.
The country bleeds today because of corruption.
It is appropriate that the site chosen for Lookout’s grave lies near a memorial to those who fought against Hitler.
Lookout fought against fascism, oppression, tribalism and corruption.
Any failure to dedicate ourselves to the ideals of Masuku will be a betrayal of him and of all those freedom fighters whose graves are not known.
Our country cannot progress on fear and false accusations which are founded simply on the love of power.
There is something radically wrong with our country today and we are moving, fast, towards destruction.
There is confusion and corruption and, let us be clear about it, we are seeing racism in reverse under false mirror of correcting imbalances from the past.
In the process we are creating worse things.
We have created fear in the minds of some in our country.
We have made them feel unwanted, unsafe.
Young men and women are on the streets of our cities.
There is terrible unemployment.
Life has become harsher than ever before.
People are referred to as squatters.
I hate the word.
I do not hate the person.
When people were moved under imperialism certain facilities like water were provided.
But under us? Nothing! You cannot build a country by firing people’s homes.
No country can live by slogans, pasi (down with) this and pasi that.
When you are ruling you should never say pasi to anyone.
If there is something wrong with someone you must try to uplift him, not oppress him.
We cannot condemn other people and then do things even worse than they did.
Lookout was a brave man.
He led the first group of guerrillas who returned home at ceasefire.
Lookout, lying quietly here in his coffin, fought to the last minute of his life for justice.
It is his commitment to fair play that earned him his incarceration.
Some of you are tempted to give away your principles in order to conform.
Even the preachers are frightened to speak freely and they have to hide behind the name of Jesus.
The fear that pervades the rulers has come down to the people and to the workers.
There is too much conformity.
People work and then they shut up.
We cannot go on this way.
People must be freed to be able to speak.
We invite the clergy to be outspoken.
Tell us when we go wrong.
When Lookout was in Parirenyatwa he requested to be able to say goodbye to his friend Dumiso.
The request was refused.
“No!” By our own government!
He is not being buried in Heroes’ Acre.
But they can’t take away his status as a hero.
You don’t give a man the status of a hero.
All you can do is recognise it.
It is his.
Yes, he can be forgotten temporarily by the State.
But the young people who do research will one day unveil what Lookout has done