The Zimbabwe People's Army (ZIPA) was a Zimbabwean liberation war army formed in 1976 as a coalition of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), the military wing of PF ZAPU, and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the military wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). The army was formed with the strategic intention of transforming itself into a political movement.
ZIPA was a creation of the Organisation of African Unity Liberation Committee, meant to resume armed struggle against the Rhodesian white minority government. The OAULC had been asked by ZANLAcommanders to let them resume armed struggle on the grounds that détente had failed. ZIPA was regarded as a terrorist organisation by the Rhodesian government.
ZIPA was formed as a merger of ZIPRA and ZANLA with the purpose of:
- Rescuing the Zimbabwe liberation struggle from the chaotic situation chat had been created by ANC Zimbabwe, ANC leadership.
- Resuming the armed struggle, intensifying this armed struggle and carrying it to its logical conclusion and finally establishing a just and popular socio-political order serving the interest of the people of Zimbabwe." - Dzinashe Machingura
ZIPA was opposed to efforts by the Rhodesian government and Western powers (Among the the United States of America) to concede to some liberation war fighters' demands in exchange for economic guarantees for the whites. ZIPA said the economic plan in 1976 fell short of their objectives to totally transform Zimbabwean society.
ZIPA's Joint Military Command was comprised of 9 commanders from both Zipra and Zanla. It's commander was the late army commander General Solomon Mujuru (Rex Nhongo). Alfred Mangena was the ZIPA political commissar and the late Dzinashe Machingura (his Chimurenga name. His real name was Wilfred Mhanda) as deputy political commissar.
Role of ZIPA in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle
ZIPA under Mujuru’s command, filled in the political vacuum of arrested political leaders as well as the military task of remobilizing for the war. ZIPA, some authors have written, was instrumental in positioning Robert Mugabe as Ndabaningi Sithole’s replacement with the specific permission of the imprisoned Josiah Tongogara and the ZANLA's High Command.
Arrest of ZIPA leadership
Some of ZIPA leadership were arrested in Mozambique by Samora Machel's government. The arrests were made after a meeting in Beira called by Macheal to discuss ZIPA's lack of support for the Geneva Conference. Some of those arrested include, Chrispen Mataire, Dzinashe Machingura, Augustine Chihuri and Rugare Gumbo. Mujuru was not arrested along with the others.
Mataure wrote in a 2014 article that Machingura was immediately released out of benevolence but he chose to be imprisoned with unless the same benevolence was extended to his colleagues resulting in him serving the time.
These prisoners spent 3 years at Cabo Del Gado in northern Mozambique and were released after Zimbabwe had attained its independence from the Rhodesian government.
- Chrispen Mataire, Dzinashe Machingura deserved better, Zimbabwe Independent, Published:6 June 2014, Retrieved:8 June 2014
- The Zimbabwe People's Army: An interview with Dzinashe Machingura, Mozambican Information Agency, Published:22 September 1976, Retrieved:8 June 2014"
- The Zimbabwe People's Army: An interview with Dzinashe Machingura, [page 4, Mozambican Information Agency, Published:22 September 1976, Retrieved:8 June 2014
- Takura Zhangazha, Dzino, Rex and the legacy of the Zimbabwe Peoples Army (ZIPA), Personal Blog of Blogspot, Published:20 August 2011, Retrieved:8 June 2014