The one-time United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe cleric died in 2000 aged 80.
He was in 1975 dislodged as ZANU leader in place of Robert Mugabe, then party secretary-general, who would later become Zimbabwe’s sole ruler for 37 uninterrupted years from independence attained in 1980.
As opposition ZANU-Ndonga leader, Sithole found little success in politics post-independence with his political base narrowing down to his native Chipinge enclave where he was MP from 1995 to 2000.
Under Mugabe’s rule, Sithole was at some point arrested and charged for attempts to assassinate his former ally.
Even in death, Mugabe failed to forgive his former comrade to a point of denying him national hero’s status.
Fast forward to 2022, Mnangagwa has inadvertently admitted his former boss erred in denying his allies-turned-enemies the highest honour of the land.
Writing in his weekly column, in The Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said Reverend Sithole was one of the key pillars of the liberation struggle.
One man who looms large in the ranks of early leaders of our nationalist movement, but is not at our National Shrine is Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, the inaugural leader of Zimbabwe African National Union at its formation, after the 1963 split in the nationalist movement. Whatever his mistakes and missteps later in the Struggle, he deserves mention and acknowledgement in national annals.
Mnangagwa described Sithole as a “leading nationalist, scholar and firebrand in fact gave our Struggle its intellectual grounding and depth” who theorised the struggle.
Mnangagwa said there should be no binary characterisation of people under “good and bad, heroes and villains” when appreciating the country’s past.