WAR veterans have described Cde John Munodawafa Gwitira as an outstanding freedom fighter who contributed immensely to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Cde Gwitira (73), whose pseudonym was Gundingwi Kenneth, died at the Murambi Garden Clinic in Mutare after being ill for some time.
He is credited with being one of the commanders to train freedom fighters at Mgagao training camp in Tanzania.
At the Mgagao training camp, he reportedly worked with Vice President Dr. Constantino Chiwenga and the late national hero Cde Perrence Shiri, among others.
The President of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa – who heard the news of Cde Gwitira’s death while in Bulawayo to attend the ZITF – said Cde Gwitira was one of the joint military commanders to train guerrillas at Mgagao camp in Tanzania.
“As President of the ZNLWVA, we are shocked and saddened by the death of one of our outstanding historical cadres, Cde Gwitira. His name was Guddingwi Kenneth during the war and was one of the guerrilla pilots in to be trained. He trained in the Indian subcontinent and returned to become one of the commanders of Mgagao camp in Tanzania,” Cde Mutsvangwa said.
“This group of cadres from the Mgagao camp changed the history of Zimbabwe, they were the ones who became the backbone of the Zimbabwe military, the state apparatus as we know it today.”
He said that thanks to the determination of freedom fighters like Cde Gwitira, the country managed to defeat the Smith regime.
Cde Mutsvangwa said that through guerrilla tactics the enemy was easily defeated as the freedom fighters would easily blend in with the common people.
“Eventually, when they (the freedom fighters) fired, the Rhodesians could not identify who the enemy was because the enemy had become part of the people. So the Mgagao cadres learned the lessons from the northeast and developed our own guerrilla theory which was very crucial when the large number of young cadres started to leave the country in 1974 and 1975 after the independence of Mozambique,” he said.
Cde Mutsvangwa said that Cde Gwitira among other commanders used the technical skills they learned and blended them with their personal experiences to wage the war of liberation.
He said that at Mgagao training camp, the forces of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) decided to create an independent Zimbabwe which is cherished today.
“This is what we owe to this generation of Mgagao guerrillas and some of them later became outstanding commanders in the Zimbabwe Defense Force.
“These commanders include, among others, Vice President Chiwenga and the late Perrence Shiri. They are a product of the Mgagao guerrilla training school and Kenneth Gwindingwi was one of the camp commanders at that time” , said Cde Mutsvangwa.
He said Mgagao’s decisions contributed to what Zimbabwe is today.
“So in the formation of the Zimbabwean state, this is a very crucial period. The decision of who would become the future leaders of Zimbabwe was made by the guerrillas outside of the Rhodesian political system, outside of Western political influence through the young cadres who were at the Mgagao camp,” he said. declared.