THE Chimoio national shrine in Mozambique where thousands of Zimbabweans perished during the war of liberation is now in a sorry state due to neglect, it has been established.
LIZZY KUTYAURIPO RECENTLY IN CHIMOIO, MOZAMBIQUE
Yesterday marked the 37th anniversary of the Chimoio massacre where thousands of Zimbabwean liberation war fighters and refugees lost their lives after an attack by Rhodesian forces.
Many who survived the massacre in 1977 always revisit the site in honour of their fallen colleagues. Others visit the site for historical reasons.
War veterans from Rushinga who recently visited the shrine said they were shocked that the site was being neglected unlike other heritage sites such as the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
Tall brown grass greeted the war veterans who walked in through an open and rusty fenced gate.
The shrine’s fence is torn and worn out and hangs precariously on rusty poles. The better side of the fence has collapsed.
A semi-finished building constructed 10 years ago acts as the museum. But the building is almost on the verge of collapsing due to neglect.
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Adjacent to the museum are rusty drums that were used to prepare food during the liberation struggle.
A rusty anti-aircraft gun and five AK-47 rifles lie in muddy water at the centre of the structure.
The shrine lacks water. There is no shelter from the rains for visitors, worse still for the custodians safeguarding the site.
There are no proper ablution facilities, people are welcomed by a strong stench coming from a nearby pit latrine.
In an interview, the director for the National Museums and Monuments Dr Godfrey Mahachi said he was not happy with the current state of all the historical sites.
But he said there was nothing the department could do as they no longer got government grants in the face of low revenue inflows.
“We used to get grants from Treasury, but this stopped in 2005 due to economic hardships. Developmental plans are there, but cannot be implemented as there are no funds,” Mahachi said.
He said Harare Polytechnic had been engaged to design new plans for the Chimoio site.
“We also engaged Zanu PF youths in Hurungwe district who have since raised $3 500 towards the construction of Chimoio shrine. The ball is now left in our court to raise the same amount for the project to commence.”
Custodians of the site, Agushto Manuere (20) and her husband Maritinyo Agushto (27), said they were not being paid anything.
The war veterans donated second-hand clothes and $17 to the young couple.
However, Mahachi said his organisation was, in fact, paying the young couple. He claimed the two were actually getting more than what some museums employees were getting in Zimbabwe though he refused to disclose the amount.
Manuere said the historical site was haunted and strange things sometimes happened at the shrine.
She said when there is political instability in Zimbabwe, voices are heard of people who appear to be doing toyi-toyi.
Manuere claimed that making bad comments at the shrine attracted a swarm of bees.
Some of the visitors wondered why prominent Zanu PF cadres always made reference to the fallen heroes and heroines laid at Chimoio, but never did anything about the shrine.
They also wondered why Zanu PF was not pushing government to release funds for the development of the site.
Newly-elected war vets national chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa could not be reached for comment.