It is five days before Africa commemorates the death of one of its most illustrious revolutionaries, former Mozambican President Samora Moises Machel. He died in an air crash in 1986.
Political analysts in Zimbabwe have described the late President Machel as a man who played a pivotal role in promoting revolutionary ideologies in African countries as well as aiding the liberation fighters of neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe.
According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Samora Moises Machel was born on September 29 1933 in a farming village of Chilembene in the Gaza Province of Mozambique.
He later trained as a nurse and while working for the then Lourenço Marques hospital (now Maputo), Machel became attracted to Marxist ideologies under whose teachings he began to notice salary discrepancies between black and white nurses with similar qualifications.
Inspired, Machel decided to join the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique in 1962.
Eight years later, he had risen through the ranks to become the party leader following the assassination of party President Eduardo Mondlane.
Takura Zhangazha one of the organisers of the commemorations of the life of Machel, which normally attracts speakers from organisations like the National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Zinasu and other interested individuals, described the late Machel as a man who pursued democracy and freedom at all costs.
“President Machel made a major contribution towards the liberation of Zimbabwe and other liberation movements, including Southern Africa, and in that respect he left a legacy that must be acknowledged and respected by Zimbabweans and people in Southern Africa,” said Zhangazha.
“He fostered solidarity between the people of Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well as freedom, social and economic justice, and gender equality in pursuit of democracy and he continued to touch on these issues in the collection of his speeches,” he said.
A political commentator, Blessing Ivan Vava said Machel was like a brother who gave all to assist another suffering brother.
“He is a man who gave it all in assisting a brother (Zimbabwe) who was still suffering at the hands of a racist settler regime. Mozambique became a second home to the revolutionary fighters during the war of liberation and he was a comrade who never lost his passion and belief in regional solidarity as shown by his role in the formation of the (Southern Africa Development Co-ordination Conference) now Sadc.”
However, Machel was accused of forcing some estimated 200 000 Portuguese out of Mozambique, resulting in serious economic and financial collapse of the country.
The late Mozambican leader died together with 33 passengers on October 19 1986 on his way from an international meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, when his Presidential Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft crashed in the Lebombo Mountains near Mbuzini in South Africa.
The incident was investigated by the Margo Commission set up by the South African government, which concluded it was caused by pilot error.
But, Machel’s widow Graça Machel was adamant then that it was not an accident and she dedicated her life to tracking down her husband’s alleged killers.
In 2007, one of Machel’s confidantes in Frelimo, Jacinto Veloso suspected the death was due to a conspiracy between the South African and Soviet Union secret services, both of which he said had reasons to get rid of him.
According to Veloso, the Soviet Ambassador once asked Machel for an audience to convey the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ concern about Mozambique’s apparent “sliding away” towards the West, to which Machel supposedly replied Vai a merda (Be damned!). This was interpreted to the Russian envoy who was then convinced Machel had irrevocably moved away from their orbit.
The Soviets allegedly did not hesitate to sacrifice the Russian pilot and the whole crew of their own plane carrying Machel.