By Bill Saidi
NOBODY has ever told me what eventually happened to Tasiyana Mtizwa, a Zanu official in Lusaka in the 1960-70s.
I have never personally tried to establish his whereabouts after independence in 1980.
We had met in Lusaka to talk, not only of the struggle, but also of the essence of life.
If we had met in 1980, we would have resumed our contacts.
Unfortunately — for me as well as for him — we had preoccupations, settling down, making a new life in a new country.
I hope he is as well as can be expected.
But I know what happened to Tennyson Makiwane. I met him in Lusaka too, again in the thick of the liberation struggle.
Makiwane and I lived in the relatively new township of New Kabwata in Lusaka.
He was a top official of the external wing of the African National Congress of South Africa.
I was then with The Central African Mail, as weekly columnist and news editor.
I got to know of his death only after South Africa had become democratic in 1994.
He had been murdered in the Transkei in 1980. Why?
I asked my informant.
I was on a visit to South Africa and had been curious about all the South Africans I had come to know in Zambia during the struggle.
My informant seemed stunned that I had no idea why he had died.
In so many words, he alluded to a “betrayal”.
My thoughts of Tennyson returned again when the world was joining Africa in celebrating Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
I went to the internet and decided to find out the truth about Makiwane’s death.
There was a September 29 2008 article by Paul Trewhela in Politicsweb-by-email.
It asked the loaded question: Did anyone in a senior position in the ANC give the order in 1980 to kill Tennyson Makiwane?
I realise that, for many South Africans, this is unpleasant, digging up dirt that should remain buried.
Paul Trewhela’s introduction: “Tennyson Xola (TX) Makiwane was a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC in exile, as well as of its Revolutionary Council. He had been appointed Deputy Director of External Affairs in London in 1972, in the new External Mission of the ANC.
“It seems unlikely that the decision to kill such a senior former leader of the ANC would ever have been taken without instructions from senior leaders of the ANC, the SACP and Umkhonto weSizwe.
“But what was the chain of command?
Who gave the order?”
The article goes into detail about the relationship between the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa.
You gain the impression, in the end, that this relationship must have had something to do with Makiwane’s assassination.
An application for amnesty for the murder of Makiwane was made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by a certain David Simelane, a member of the ANC.
The TRC report (Vol.2 Chap. 4) states: “49. Mr Tennyson Makiwane (EC0258/96STK) was one of the “Gang of Eight” who had sought to launch a “reformed” ANC and was expelled from the ANC in 1975.
“Makiwane joined (Chief Kaizer) Matanzima’s Transkei government in February 1979.
“He acted as a “consultant and roving Transkei ambassador” and was believed by ANC members to be revealing confidential information.
“He was shot dead in Umtata in July 1980. Mr David Simelane (AM5305/97), a member of the ANC, applied for amnesty for this killing, as well as for the killing of other police officers and askaris.”
Trewhela’s article raises serious questions about the decision to murder Makiwane.
I know that, for me, such a conclusion is perfectly understandable: I knew and admired him.
But I also know that the liberation struggles in southern Africa created strange alliances and even stranger emotions among the combatants.
I lived in Zambia for 17 years — a time when the fight for freedom was conducted, partly, from that country.
I must confess there were developments which I didn’t understand, even using my reliable contacts.
But I remain convinced Tennyson Makiwane was a good man.
There must be others out there who probably feel the same way.
Bill Saidi is a veteran writer based in Harare