PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has revealed that he made several efforts to get Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo to become President of Zimbabwe at independence in 1980, but the late nationalist flatly rejected the offer.
The rejection, he said, was a sign of Nkomo’s humility. The presidency, at that time was ceremonial. Mugabe was then Prime Minister, the most powerful position in the country.
Speaking at the unveiling of the statue of the late nationalist who died in 1999 and the renaming of Bulawayo’s Main Street in the late veteran nationalist’s honour, Mugabe said he sent three delegations to convince Nkomo to take up the post of president, but he declined.
Mugabe was in Bulawayo where he officially opened JN Nkomo International Airport, unveiled the Nkomo statue and officially renamed Main Street.
Mugabe said he offered the ceremonial presidency to Nkomo, but due to his (Nkomo’s) humility, he declined to take up the post.
“I sent another delegation, but again he said no. I sent a third delegation to plead with him, but he said no — such was his humility. Perhaps you didn’t know.”
Mugabe became Executive President in 1987 after he signed a peace pact with the former PF Zapu leader following about five years of political hostilities during which time about 20,000 people mostly in Matabeleland are believed to have been killed during the Gukurahundi disturbances.
Mugabe said he believed in peace, which was the reason why he forgave the white colonial masters for the atrocities they committed against the black majority before and during the liberation struggle.