Cde Cain Nkala: A fighter who epitomised principle
Chairman of the Bulawayo Province of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) Cde Cain Nkala was abducted from his Magwegwe West home in Bulawayo and his body was later found buried in a shallow grave on November 15, 2001. Cde Nkala’s decomposed body was exhumed from a shallow grave at Norwood Farm near Solusi University, Matabeleland South, on November 13, 2001.
The same group which killed Cde Nkala is also alleged to have killed Cde Limukani Luphahla, a Zanu-PF youth leader in Lupane, on October 29, 2001, by strangling him with a twine string before burning his body beyond recognition.
This circumstance of his death, and the manner of his brutal murder, made Cde Nkala a martyr.
In his condolence message to the Nkala family, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF, Cde Robert Mugabe condemned the abduction, torture and killing of Cde Nkala and vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to book.
The President described Cde Nkala as a freedom fighter who epitomised the finest qualities of those who dedicated themselves to the struggle for independence, and campaigned for an equitable distribution of the country’s resources.
Cde Nkala was born on the November 9, 1958 at Mtshabezi Mission Hospital, Gwanda District. He did his primary education at Sitezi Primary School and attended Mtshabezi Secondary School for his secondary education. He later received two years of training in metalwork and agriculture from which he obtained a certificate.
On completing his training, he moved to Bulawayo to join his parents. While there, he became a member of the Inyathi Youth Club in Mpopoma.
Subsequently, he got a job with G & D Shoes as a machine operator.
Following an inspirational address by the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo at a rally at Mahova Shopping Centre in Mpopoma in 1977, Cain Nkala and other youths of his age left the country to join the liberation struggle. They went to Zambia through Botswana.
His first stop was Nampundu Recruits Camp but later moved to Freedom Camp (FC) where he received basic military training. It was there that he was appointed Medic of a group of 300 ZIPRA cadres.
He was among the first group that received military training from Cuban instructors at Angola’s Boma Training Camp and was made Infantry Platoon Commander for Company 2.
At the end of October 1977, his group was selected to undergo further training, specialising in military strategy and administration.
When he returned to Zambia he briefly stayed at the CGT2 and was later deployed and operated in Kariba.
He was integrated into the First Regular Battalion.
By then, he had risen to the position of commander, anti-aircraft battery attached to the battalion. When the battalion was attacked by the Rhodesian forces, Cde Nkala commanded resolutely and defended the battalion’s position and the enemy suffered heavy casualties.
Upon the announcement of the ceasefire just before Independence, Cde Nkala crossed into Zimbabwe and was assigned to the Gwayi River Mine Assembly Point. He was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army as a full lieutenant. He was demobilised from the army in 1983.
Cde Nkala worked for the Ministry of Education as a temporary teacher from 1983 to 1984.
During this period he had also become a member of the Magwegwe Residents Association where he played an important role in alleviating the living conditions of residents of Magwegwe and mobilising them and war veterans to support the historic Unity Accord.
Cde Nkala joined the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association at its inception and rose through the ranks to become chairman of the Bulawayo province in 1998.
It was during this period that he masterminded farm demonstrations in the Matabeleland region.
It was because of his leadership ability and resoluteness on the land issue that he was re-elected to the same post in 2001.
In addition to his responsibilities with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, he was also a committee member of the Bulawayo Zanu-PF executive committee.
As the provincial chairman of the war veterans, he was also a member of the Provincial Land Committee. He spearheaded the formation of the War Veterans Widows Association for the Bulawayo province.
Cde Nkala’s rejection of imperialists, neo-colonialists and racists was total and uncompromising. Even when facing death, Cde Nkala remained uncompromising, telling the terrorist abductors and would-be killers who were torturing him that they would not succeed in whatever mission they imagined they had.
Indeed, the terrorists will not succeed because they must not succeed.
Cde Nkala will be remembered most for the role he played to ensure that black Zimbabweans reclaimed their land from the white settlers.
From February 2000 until the time of his death, he provided brave and determined leadership in Bulawayo that was required for the war veterans to demonstrate on farms throughout the country.
At the time of his death, Cde Nkala was survived by wife Sikhumbuzo and five children.