Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda yesterday described national hero Cde Stanley Nleya as a humble, dedicated and selfless cadre who contributed immensely to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Cde Nleya was one of the finest Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) commanders during the liberation struggle.
His nom de guerre was Elish Gagisa.
The national hero succumbed to a heart ailment at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) on Tuesday last week.
He trained several high-ranking military officials, including Gen Sibanda.
Gen Sibanda said Cde Nleya was a selfless and true soldier who wanted nothing for himself, but was focused on ensuring Zimbabwe’s independence.
He narrated his first encounter with Cde Nleya at Morogoro Training Camp in Tanzania.
“I met the late Cde Nleya in 1974 when we arrived at Morogoro training camp in Tanzania. It was late February or first week of March.
“We were transported from Zambia overnight and spent two nights on the road. Gagisa and the late national hero Major-General Jevan Maseko (Retired) were part of a group of instructors at the military training centre,” he said.
“Gagisa was responsible for physical training and tactics. He had a small body, but was very active.”
He said the national hero was a dedicated and decorated military instructor, who was committed to producing the finest military cadres.
“He would wake us up at 3am or 4am for physical training. We used to do our runs during that time and then around 6am there about, and he would then do the actual physical exercises. The running was to warm us up. Stanley would wake up anytime when he needed to and do what needed to be done,” he said.
Gen Sibanda said after training he was deployed elsewhere and returned later as an instructor.
“I got to know him a lot better, when I became one of the instructors until 1976 when he left Morogoro for Zambia. He had been elevated into the ZIPRA High Command and he went on to hold many positions up to the time of our independence,” he said.
“In 1980 when we came home, we went to the assembly points and again Stanley remained humble, hardworking and patriotic.”
He commended the Government and Zanu PF for declaring him a national hero.
“This is a befitting recognition of what the late hero did during his time.
“Yes, he didn’t join the army after the assembly points. He was demobilised and went on to do other things, but he played his part. What the Government has done is very much welcome,” he said.
He challenged the young generation to emulate the good works of the national hero.
“We need to come up with strategies to educate our youths. I think we made some mistakes in 1980, we were supposed to undertake a proper national youth service.
“If we had undertaken a proper national service strategy in this country our youths would have been properly educated. We lost an opportunity there. Our educational system was good at producing a lot of people who could speak very good English, but not at educating youths to be patriotic. We were not educated to be self-reliant. We were educated to become employees of other people and not employers or entrepreneurs.”
He also said there was need to properly document the history of Zimbabwe and that of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“It is true that we have not adequately documented the history of the liberation struggle and this is an area that we need to address. We need to correct that. We are trying to get the history of the liberation struggle and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces articulated properly,” he said.