HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsReal war vets, please stand up!

Real war vets, please stand up!

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Chinese nationalist Mao tse Tung taught that a “fish and water” symbiosis between people and guerillas was essential for the success of any revolution.

And indeed, this advice underpinned the success of the Zanla fighting forces.

There evolved a homogeneity between the forces and the masses, blending into a formidable and indomitable fighting machine that the settler forces just couldn’t deal with.

Resultantly, victory was certain…

Now over 32 years have elapsed since the guns stopped blazing.

Many things have changed. The “fish and water” symbiosis lesson seems to have been lost along the way.

An “us”, and “them” syndrome seems in vogue now and pervades the political landscape.

There is a clear separation between the people and the former fighting forces – with the former regarded contemptuously as lame ducks and civilian hostages who need to be chaperoned and directed at every turn and the latter, the sanctimonious guides.

This is the attitude of our “war veterans” – at least a portion of them.

They are clearly arrogant and disdainful and have this “we know better than everyone else and we will tell you what is good for you” attitude.

The majority of real war veterans have been demobilised and taken their place in society, eking a living like the rest of us.

They are satisfied they achieved what they set out to attain – freedom from white rule and the right to self-determination.

I don’t think they ever want to hear of another war, least of all, a black-on-black encounter.

War is not a picnic, and if anyone tells you that they want to go back to war, they were never there in the first place.

But then there is a type of “war veteran” in our midst…the type that thinks that people owe them something, yet the contrary is true.

This is the type that has come back, time and again, asking for this or that payment.

In spite of having been given all sorts of consideration and payments, they come back to extort the people or government, on threat of destabilisation, should government or the people not yield.

Unscrupulous politicians have also found a ready-made militia in this extra-legal group and mobilising it on a whim, every now and then, for good measure.

Every time there is talk of clearly civic issues like a referendum or an election, the virulent so-called war veteran is activated and assumes a certain malignancy to intimidate and “guide” the masses in a certain parochial direction!

We hear of mayhem in the towns and the rural areas, with people being beaten up, maimed and even killed; we hear of villages getting torched and property looted or destroyed.

Recently, there has been an alleged threat to “crush the Prime Minister like a fly”.

Just what kind of “war veteran” would be so brazenly extravagant?

Where is the discipline learned in war?

Where does he get the courage to challenge high office in such treasonous manner? Might such utterances be mere ventriloquism from some “official” source which is, itself, somewhat encumbered from making such noises?

Why do such “war veterans” get away with it all the time?

We know that when Chenjerai Hunzvi crossed the line, at some point, he was arrested and had to appear in court.

When Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, before assuming the premiership, made extravagant statements about removing the President “violently”, he was arrested.

Where does this current war veteran who threatens to crush a whole prime minister get such powers and why isn’t he arrested for such treasonous statements?

Where is Theresa Makone, who gallivanted from one police station to another in a bid to free Didymus Mutasa’s son, Martin, who was in police custody, when threats to crush the Prime Minister are issued?

Not long ago, President Barack Obama fired a top soldier for making dangerous comments about the high office!

To think this blabber-mouth “war veteran” is merely an appendage, yet he lives a charmed life! Whose agenda is he pushing I wonder?

To whom do war veterans belong? Do they belong to a political party or the nation?

There are far too many heroes and war veterans after any war.

Vice-President John Nkomo once asked whether “throwing one or two stones at the enemy” during the liberation struggle made one a war veteran.

There is a lot of romanticism about being a war veteran today.

Have we ever bothered to question the credentials of some of the “remarkable” characters who claim to be war veterans?

Work out their ages and voila. The truth will lay bare in front of you. Distortions in the psyche of the war veterans’ thrust often comes from people who were nowhere near any war.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary describes a veteran as “a person who has had long experience in a particular field”.

The late Dr Christopher Mushonga was an orthopaedic veteran. Charles Chikerema, Gilbert Mawarire, Bill Saidi and Willie Musarurwa are/were veteran journalists.

But, how does one become a war veteran without having had any experience in a real war?

It’s not enough to have been trained as a soldier in Angola for instance and not be deployed.

There are those individuals whose war history is beyond reproach like the late Josiah Tongogara, Solomon Mujuru, Perrence Shiri, the late Lookout Masuku and the late Alfred Nikita Mangena etc, etc.

Their war exploits precede them.

How many of us have ever inquired the war credentials of the likes of Jabulani Sibanda?

We hear he was trained in Angola, but where was he deployed? Fighting among which other comrades and under whose command?

We, in the media, are inundated with such questions and we have no answers.

Surely these issues are easily ascertainable.

Real war veterans transcend party politics.

They certainly will not be turned into cannon fodder by unscrupulous politicians with agendas.

Unless you were told who they were, you wouldn’t think that Mujuru or even Justice Charles Hungwe are war veterans.

They are so humble and unassuming. They carry their war credentials with such admirable dignity and so are the majority of war veterans now living civilian lives.

Now, those are the true war veterans- the Real Deal – and we are proud of them.

Not some of these gangsters-for-hire, masquerading as war veterans, intimidating the same people they purport to have liberated.

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