The Herald Harare Elita Chikwati
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Zimbabwe today joins Mozambique in commemorating the death of founding president Samora Moises Machel, who died in an air crash on October 19, 1986.Cde Machel died with 33 others on his way back from Mbala, Zambia to the Mozambican capital Maputo when the Tupolev Tu 134 jetliner he was travelling in crashed into the Lebombo Mountains of Mbuzini, near the Mozambican border.

The crash followed a meeting by the three frontline leaders; himself, former Zambian president Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola at Mbala to confront the then Zaire president Mobutu Sese Seko for channelling funds to UNITA, which was destabilising Angola in alliance with apartheid South Africa.

In his commemoration message on the 30th anniversary of the death of Cde Machel at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare yesterday, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the bonds of solidarity between Mozambique and Zimbabwe were cemented in blood and a common cause to rid both countries of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

« The death of Samora, that revolutionary and visionary icon, profoundly affected Zimbabwe as it did Mozambique. »During the liberation war, Mozambique provided rear bases to our guerillas, most of whom were based in the neighbouring country, » he said.He said Mozambicans suffered heavily from Rhodesian army incursions into that country and paid heavily through life and limb.

« Critical infrastructure like roads, bridges, schools and clinics was also sabotaged and destroyed in an attempt to destabilise the economy and curtail Mozambique’s ability to support the Zimbabwean guerilla effort, » he said.Acting President Mnangagwa expressed concern that there were no answers to the cause of the crash, 30 years after his death.

« As I speak today, the Mozambican government is still seeking answers over the death of its first democratically-elected president. A board of enquiry set up following the crash blamed the captain for failing to react to the ground proximity warning system, » he said.Others, he said claimed that the crew had set the very high frequency omni directional radio range, causing them to receive signals from a different airport or even that a false beacon had been set up to lure the plane off course.

An investigation done by South African government remains inconclusive.Cde Mnangagwa said he was part of the investigation team from Zimbabwe and they also could not find the real cause of the crash.He recalled the time he enjoyed with Cde Machel in Botswana 18 days before the tragic crash, saying they enjoyed Jack Daniels whisky and communicated in isiZulu.

Cde Machel was born in Chilembene village in southern Mozambique.He worked as a nurse before fighting for the liberation from the 400-year long Portuguese rule.

« An important attribute about him is that he was clear about creating a culture of discipline and hard, honest work. He included women and people of all races in the nation building project of the ruling Frelimo in stark contracts with Mozambique’s then apartheid neighbour South Africa. »In 1973, Cde Machel said ‘The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude.

« The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a pre condition for its victory’, » said the Acting President.Mozambican Charge De Affairs Adnito Maure said Zimbabwe and Mozambique had blood links that compelled each of the countries to assist each other in times of difficulties.

« This is the reason why Mozambique does not keep quiet when Zimbabwe is in difficulties and vice versa. We have worked together to continue improving our relations. »The Beira Corridor and the N6 road from Harare to Mozambique were designed to meet the needs of both countries, » he said.

He said Cde Machel’s family and Mozambicans were waiting for an answer to his death to have closure over the matter.

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