Aged about 30, he comes from the north-east part of Rhodesia. Originally a ZAPU supporter, he joined ZANU in 1971. During the detention of Tongogara (1975-76) he acted as commander-in-chief of ZANU forces. At one time he was reported missing (together with Badza, another leading commander). Subsequently, however, he reappeared and reported that ‘Sadza’ was the name of a man killed in the operational area. His position as a military leader has been fiercely contested by the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, Joshua Nkomo and Bishop Muzorewa (see Africa Confidential, 9 July 1976). It was reported from Maputo in February 1977 that he had been arrested by the Mocambique authorities
The following review of Rex Nhongo’s post-independence career was written by Diana Mitchell and appears in her 2021 memoirs
Nhongo assumed his real name, Solomon Mujuru after Independence. During the war years he, like all the freedom fighters at the time, was committed to burying his tribal and family relationships and had taken a new identity, or Chimurenga name, Rex Nhongo. Long after Independence he remained a powerful figure in Zimbabwe. He transformed himself into a businessman, owning large properties, including farms and was often cited as a ‘kingmaker’ in the ongoing succession struggle in Zimbabwe. This man who had the barest education, had scarcely been heard of inside the country before he returned from ZANLA’s base in Mozambique to take over a commanding position in the newly formed Zimbabwe National Army. I gathered his English was not up to lengthy conversations about his life and I doubt I would have liked too much detail of his war anyway. The image of the man wearing the military beret of a ZANLA commander was by sheer luck included in my Who’s Who, published three years before I set eyes on him.
That same ‘pass’ system seemed to apply when meeting Rex Nhongo in the Audio-Visual Education offices in Mount Pleasant annexed by ZANU (PF). I have no idea why this military VIP, ex-top guerrilla commander, was temporarily ensconced there. Shabbily attired in an open-necked white shirt and crumpled, grey longs, he entered the interview room alone. He simply stared at me. He had nothing to say. I felt that it was as if he was staring at an exotic creature in a zoo.
Postscript: Decades later, Solomon Mujuru died mysteriously, burnt along with a female friend in his private home in Beatrice, not far from Harare.