Josiah Tongogara, Chief of Defence for ZANU, crushed the Badza-Nhari rebellion

The Badza-Nhari Rebellion is the uprising led by war front ZANLA senoir commanders Thomas Nhari whose real name was Raphael Chinyanganya and Dakari Badza against the ZANU High Command in Lusaka, Zambia in November 1974 during the Second Chimurenga. The rebellion was supported by supported by Noel Mukono and Simpson Mutambanengwe. The rebels were said to have been motivated by the belief that the High Command, based in Lusaka, were leading extravagant lifestyles while the war effort on the front suffered and contrary to the party's Maoist principles which the party's ascribed to. It has been suggested that the Rhodesians Security Forces sponsored the rebellion but this has been denied by some witnesses of the rebellion.[1] The rebellion was unsuccessful.


Some observers like Fay Chung have considered ideological reasons as the least of the causes of the revolt, placing the key cause in tensions between the different groups in ZANLA because of the rapid growth of the army from 1972 to 1974. The army reportedly grew from about 300 to 5,000 in this period. Shortages of food, weapons and ammunition ensued leading to the army resenting the leaders, specifically Tongogara as the Chief of Defence.

The High Command also were generally considered complacent and corrupt, especially in the abuse of women: they were regarded as living a life of luxury overseas while junior officers suffered at the front. There was also the resentment of guerrillas who came from ZIPRA who objected to their subordination to less well educated ZANLA officers. There was also what has been referred to as a "mysterious collaboration" of Nhari and his followers with junior officers from the Rhodesian army. Fay Chung didn't see it as infiltration by the CIO but that the two groups simply had similar grievances against their respective superiors.[2]

There were also personal reasons. Tongogara had taken Badza's wife and sent Badza to the front of the war. Chung narrates in her book:

Another case was that of a junior officer, Badza. In a letter found among Tongogara’s papers, Badza declared he would create a “Biafra” of Zimbabwe in reaction to his abuse within ZANLA. This was a Zimbabwean version of the David and Barsheeba story being played out, as Badza had lost his wife to his senior commander, who had sent him on a dangerous mission at the front. This personal dispute led Badza to join in a rebellion against the ZANLA leadership.[2]

According to Chung, the plot hatched by Nhari and his followers, including other junior officers in the Rhodesian army was to take over the leadership of their respective organisations, and to end the war.[2]

Planning & Initial Rebellion

At the time of the rebellion Nhari was a Provincial Field Operations Commander in MMZ (a ZANLA term used to describe the area of operations in the north east bordering Mozambique). It is alleged that planning for the rebellion started a secret meeting near Mukumbura just over the border in Mozambique on September 21 1974. Some reports have alleged that Nhari met Badza and a Rhodesian Special Branch (SB) officer and had subsequent meetingswith Cephas Tichatonga and a senoir SB officer.[3]

It's been reported that Nhari and his followers felt that the High Command in the rear was not responding to their requests for better weapons on the war front. Nhari and other senoir commanders left the war front but were disciplined and ordered to return. Badza was demoted to an ordinary cadre while Caesar Molife was stripped of his rank after an attempt to shoot Rex Nhongo. Nhari however, kept his post.

Taking Over Chifombo Base

However, later Nhari and his followers took over the Chifombo Base, in Mozambique and would reportedly not take orders from anyone except three members of the Dare, Noel Mukono, Henry Hamadziripi and John Mataure. It's said two commanders called Lovemore Chikadaya and Peter Ngwenya who were opposed to the rebellion were buried alive at Chifombo by Nhari and his followers. The rebels abducted Vitalis Zvinavashe (Chimurenga name Fox Gava), William Ndangana, Chief of Operations, Charles Dauramanzi, Logistics, Joseph Chimurenga and Josiah Tungamirai, in Lusaka and took them across Zambezi to Teresera base in Mozambique.[4]

Some accounts have said that Nhari summarily nearly 70 guerrillas who refused to join him.[5]

Meeting & Attempting to Capture Tongogara

In early December, in the initial stages of Detente, Nhari and Badza led a group of army officers from the front to Lusaka to attack the leadership. The leadership was taken by surprise which resulted in misunderstanding and distrust. Some ZANU leaders, particularly Chitepo, chairman of ZANU and head of its external wing, and John Mataure, the political commissar, believed they should listen to the young officers. Tongogara, on the other hand, who was the main focus of the young officers’ criticism, believed that giving an audience to these officers was tantamount to treason and encouragement of rebellion.[6]

Nhari, Badza and Molife met Tongogara in Lusaka at a bar.[4] Some reports have suggested that Tongogara was presented with a 5 page document proposing new commanders to replace the incumbents High Command. The document also proposed that Nhari himself would be Chief of Defence, a position then held by Tongogara.[3]

On 10 December 1974, Nhari, Badza, Mataure, Chemist Ncube, Cuthbert Chimedza and others, travelling in 2 vehicles, attempted to ambush Josiah Tongogara at his home in Lusaka, Zambia but the mission failed after a shootout ensued when Zambian police fired at the rebels. Ncube and Badza managed to escape but Nhari, Tichatonga, Molife and others were captured. It became news that a group of ZANLA commanders had been arrested by the Zambian government.[4]

It is said they had already kidnapped his wife and children, as well as 19 ZANU officials including three members of the Dare and several members of the High Command. [3]

Taking Back Chifombo & Aftermath

After the failed abduction of Tongogara, the remainder of the rebels went to Chifombo to regroup and thereafter agreed to ask the Frelimo government of Mozambique to intermediate between the rebels and the High Command. Frelimo agreed but later betrayed the rebels to the High Command, whose unit led by Robson Manyika surrounded them at a building in Kaswende and captured them.[4]

Nhari, Badza, Tichatonga and Matthew Ndanga who had been at Chifombo were killed and others suspended and detained, while some are said to have deserted. Ncube survived and later told of the events of the rebellion in an interview with the Sunday Mail in 2016.[4]

Some reports claim that before his execution Nhari confessed to the plot to rebel and his contact with the Rhodesian Special Branch.[3]

After the rebellion, a disciplinary committee to try the rebels was setup comprising Herbert Chitepo as chair, Kumbirai Kangai and Rugare Gumbo. Tongogara was suspicious of Chitepo whom he considered was sympathising with the rebels. The trials took place in the first week of February 1975. The trial was tape recorded. Evidence was presented of the killings that the Nhari group had done. John Mataure was accused of supporting and aiding the rebels. Chitepo then condemned the rebels actions and gave punishments, mainly demotion in military rank and that they be handed over to Mozambique for further punishment. Tongogara was not satisfied with the punishments passed and went on to execute the rebels secretly.[7]

Later the relationship between Chitepo and Tongogara became tense as Chitepo disagreed strongly with the executions of the rebels. Tongogara on the other hand believed Chitepo, Mukono, and Henry Hamadziripi had supported the rebels. As Detente negotiations went on, Chitepo became the fatal victim of a bomb in his car that exploded as he started his engine. Later, the a Rhodesian government CIO, Ken Flower confessed to having planted the bomb. Still, Tongogara was suspected of having killed Chitepo, which resulted in the arrest of ZANU and ZANLA leadership by the Zambian government at Chitepo's funeral.[8]

Fighters who were part of the rebellion

  • Thomas Nhari
  • Dakari Badza
  • Cephas Tichatonga
  • Caesar Molife
  • Chemist Ncube
  • Cuthbert Chimedza
  • John Mataure
  • Noel Mukono
  • Henry Hamadziripi
  • Matthew Ndanga
  • Dumbujena
  • Mutambanengwe
  • Madekurozva
  • Felix Santana
  • George
  • Shebba Gava


  1. Munyaradzi Huni, How I survived Badza-Nhari executions, The Sunday Mail, Published:4 September 2016 , Retrieved: 6 September 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fay Chung, Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "fc" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Chiratidzo Moyo, Détente: When the Nhari rebellion was crushed, The Patriot, Published:23 October 2014, Retrieved: 6 September 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Munyaradzi Huni, Badza-Nhari rebellion: An insider’s story, The Sunday Mail, Published:28 Aug 2016, Retrieved: 6 Sept 2016
  5. Gerald Mazarire, Discipline and punishment in ZANLA: 1964-1979, Journal of Southern African Studies, September 2011
  6. Fay Chung, Re-living the Second Chimurenga, Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe. Page:91. Weaver Press, 2006. ISBN 91-710655-1-2.
  7. Fay Chung, Re-living the Second Chimurenga, Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe. Page: 93 Weaver Press, 2006. ISBN 91-710655-1-2.
  8. Fay Chung, Re-living the Second Chimurenga, Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe. Page: 95. Weaver Press, 2006. ISBN 91-710655-1-2.