Chief Jeremiah Chirau was born on 6 June 1923 and he died on 27 January 1985. He was an employee of the Ian Smith's led Rhodesian government. He has been referred to as one of the numerous colonial stooges during the colonial period. He served during the Second World War and he was awarded a medal for his service. He was one of the signatories of the Internal Settlement agreement of 1978 together with Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi Sithole. He was subsequently a member of the executive council formed after the settlement together with Muzorewa, Sithole and Smith. He formed his own political party, the Zimbabwe United People's Organisation (ZUPO) which was however an initiative of Smith. He was one of the few Africans to serve first in the Rhodesian government. Despite the fact that he was aligned to Smith, he was declared a national hero and was buried at the national shrine.
Chirau succeeded his father in 1961 and subsequently he became part of the Rhodesian government. This was mainly because traditional chiefs were incorporated into the government because the British had adopted the policy of indirect rule. This was whereby they used chiefs to administer people. By and large they were employees of the Rhodesian government. Those who were not keen to undertake this role were unceremoniously dismissed.
After the announcement of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, Chirau was appointed to be a senator. He was thus denounced as a colonial stooge for he was advancing the hegemony of the white minority at the expense of his own people. In 1973, he became the president of the Council of Chiefs.
Formation of ZUPO
Chirau formed ZUPO in 1976 which was mainly composed of traditional chiefs and headmen. Despite that Chirau was the leader of ZUPO, the formation of the party was Smith's initiative. Smith had envisaged a scenario where Chirau as a revered chief was to gain the support of those who strongly upheld traditional beliefs. Chirau was thus prone to be manipulated and this has been linked to his involvement in the Internal Settlement agreement which largely favoured the perpetuation of the Smith's repressive regime.
Aims and Objectives of ZUPO
Other than calling for universal suffrage and the removal of discriminatory Acts, ZUPO called for the increase of the chiefs power and salaries. Hence it was not concerned about the dismantling of the white minority regime, instead it was prioritising the elevation of the status qou of chiefs. In regard of this, it was mainly composed of chiefs who were 'selfish'.
ZUPO was also advocating the end of the liberation struggle, the Second Chimurenga and the attainment of independence as a result of peaceful negotiations. This was contrary to the views of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).
The party was also opposed to the nationalisation of industries. This was meant to advance the superiority of the minority whites. The only similarity which ZUPO had with both ZANU PF and ZAPU was the end of racial discrimination. This was only used as a pretext to lure Africans to join ZUPO because it was completely absurd to call for the end of racial discrimination whilst at the same time opposing the nationalisation of industries and properties which were largely owned by the whites.
Demise of ZUPO
The party was disbanded before 1980 and many reasons have been put forward to account for the demise of ZUPO. The failure of the party to win at least a single seat in parliament after the April 1979 election which came about as a result of the Internal Settlement agreement caused a major blow to the collapse of ZUPO. Chirau who contested to be the first black prime minister of what was now Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was defeated. Due to the fact that ZUPO failed to get a seat in the parliament and that Chirau had lost the premiership post, the support of the party began to dwindle, eventually leading to the demise of the party.
Before the 1979 elections, Chief Kayasi Ndiweni who was the vice president of ZUPO left the party to form his own political party, the United National Federal Party (UNFP). He left with a huge chunk of ZUPO supporters.
It was reported that Chirau died after collapsing at his place of residence. Smith however opined that he was murdered by his 'own' people. He was a member of ZANU PF and upon his death, he was still the president of the Council of Chiefs. He was declared a national hero despite the fact that he was a close ally of Smith.
Today's Top Pindula News2019-07-17T17:08:36Z
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