MDC-T leader Mr Nelson Chamisa’s attempt to ride on the legacy of the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo backfired spectacularly yesterday after the Nkomo family dismissed as false claims that they endorsed and offered the disputed MDC-T leader the veteran nationalists’ intonga (sceptre).
Addressing an MDC-Alliance rally in Bulawayo, made up largely of people from outside Bulawayo, Mr Chamisa falsely claimed that the Nkomo family had told him that he was the first “national leader” to visit the Joshua Nkomo Museum in Matsheumhlophe suburb since Dr Nkomo’s death in 1999.
“I was so touched when I went to Dr Nkomo’s Matsheumhlophe house. I was going there to see the history of this nation. However, the family told me one thing, they said ever since the death of Dr Nkomo I am the first national leader to visit the house, they even offered to give me Dr Nkomo’s traditional sceptre (intonga),’’ Mr Chamisa claimed.
However, Dr Nkomo’s son, Mr Sibangilizwe Nkomo, said none of the family members knew about Mr Chamisa’s visit to the museum while dismissing as an abomination claims that they offered the MDC-T leader the late VP’s intonga.
The sceptre became synonymous with Dr Nkomo as he carried it everywhere he went.
“There is nothing like that. Chamisa went to the Matsheumhlope house, which is now a museum, at the invitation of the chief executive officer of the Joshua Nkomo Foundation, Mr Jabulani Hadebe. None of the family members knew about his visit,” said Mr Nkomo.
“I live in the Pelandaba house and it is a lie that he met any of the family members unless he came here as a ghost. In actual fact, I have never met Chamisa in my life.”
On claims that the family offered Mr Chamisa Dr Nkomo’s intonga, Mr Nkomo said he was shocked: “that a young man like Chamisa can speak such an abomination?”
“It’s not a matter that you can joke about. It’s an abomination that he can talk cheaply about intonga ka baba. That’s no ordinary stick, but it carries so much significance in terms of culture and tradition.
“It’s the property of our ancestors. It represents our family’s ancestry and it is unacceptable for him to joke around with such matters,” said Mr Nkomo.
“In our African tradition, we do not offer intonga ka baba to anyone one who is not a member of the family. None of the caretakers at the museum know where that stick is, so we really do not know what he is talking about.”
Historian and culturalist Mr Phathisa Nyathi said it was impossible for intonga to be given to anyone from outside the family.
“Firstly, the children are not the ones who give the stick to the next person but another relative who was at par with the deceased. It could be the older or younger uncle and the stick strictly follows a blood line. It is impossible that it could be given to a person outside the blood line.
“The stick is then given to the qualifying son in the blood line. The determinant of qualifying son does not necessarily follow that the eldest son gets it first but the chosen one.”
Mr Nkomo warned Mr Chamisa against seeking political mileage at the expense of Dr Nkomo.
He also dismissed Mr Chamisa’s claims that he was the first “national” leader to visit the Joshua Nkomo Museum, opened in January 2012, saying many leaders had visited the monument.
“Even claims about his visit to the museum are not true. The likes of Dumiso Dabengwa, Simon Khaya Moyo and many national leaders have visited that museum. He must not mislead the people with lies.”
Meanwhile, MDC-T functionaries yesterday distributed pictures Mr Chamisa visiting former war veterans’ leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda at his Nkulumane home on Saturday creating a false impression that he was in support of their cause.
However, sources privy to the meeting disclosed that Mr Chamisa desperately tried to woo Cde Sibanda into the MDC-T but failed.
“He tried in vain to convince Sibanda to join them. He promised that they would reward Sibanda if he joins them with more benefits than those he got in Zanu-PF. However, Sibanda made no commitment towards Chamisa, he just listened but did not respond,” said the source.