HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsIs the end of the war veteran nigh?

Is the end of the war veteran nigh?


A few months back I wrote about the dilemma of the African liberation warrior.

Develop Me with Tapiwa Gomo

I discussed the dilemma they face between leading their countries right from the trenches or handover the power baton to technocrats.

The second option was for theoretical purposes, as history has shown that African war veterans are not willing to leave power. In Africa, to fight is to lead and that is the premise that has arrested Africa’s development for the past six decades.

It is the same in the opposition parties.

Those who fight dictators think they are the same people who should lead. Leadership and fighting are two different attributes but they can still be found in the same person even though it is rare.

Zimbabwe too has been caught in the same quagmire with the war veterans being the only ones allowed to lead and script the policy directions of our country especially at the turn of the millennium.
Some war veterans have been good leaders, but the country paid dearly because of the war veteran policy mentality.

However, a closer look at the current Zanu PF frontline leadership shows an interesting development. The war veteran is fast disappearing from the frontlines of serious political and government business.

The number of those who went to war has gone down in the current set up. The future of some of those who remain is also uncertain, if media reports are anything to go by.

The first warning shot was the dismissal of the war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda from the party for allegedly undermining the President (Robert Mugabe) and threatening to mobilise war veterans, youths and women to march to State House to have a discussion with President Mugabe.

The Squealers of the party will unconvincingly tell us that the depletion is not human-made but due to age and death.

But the last Zanu PF congress signalled that the war veteran’s time may just be nigh. It may read like a trite as certainly death and age are taking their toll, but whether it was by design or default, the last purge deleted most of those who were on the frontlines and has continued to bar them from securing leadership positions thereby allowing the academics and freshmen to call the shots.

Change is good, isn’t it? One reason our country has not done well is because of the military mentality with which policies were developed and implemented.

This does not take away the fact that war veterans have a justifiable reason to feel used and dumped and unprotected by their system.

People who fought hard for the rights of the war veterans to be recognised and allowed their space must be turning in their graves.
Those who sit in leadership positions today owe it to freedom fighters who risked their lives to free the country, while some of them were pursuing academic qualifications.

And the same leaders who own farms today after year 2000 also owe it to the war veteran who took the bold and dirty step of moving into the farms to demonstrate the need for black people to own the means of production.

Bad as it might have been, the cronies have become both the beneficiaries and masters at the expense of the war veteran.
Unless there is a good explanation on the last Zanu PF congress, there is justifiable reason for them to feel used as political tools. The war veteran has become the labour that serves the masters who have made themselves the king makers.

Their status has been turned into nothing but ordinary members of the society whose value is nothing worth more than the wartime stories and those black and white fast fading photos.

Events preceding the Zanu PF congress were played out as pre-positioning for the throne but the ultimate result was an ouster of the war veterans from the system.

Those who remain in this system today, except the President and his Vice-Presidents, are on the fringes of power and will only survive at the whims of the new ‘leadership’. They are specifically on those positions for no other reasons apart from being public relations evidence that the system still accommodates the war veterans.

I am not in any way suggesting that we should have more war veterans in government or leadership positions, but considering how Zanu PF has used them, they surely deserve respect from their party and not the fear they are being subjected to.

They are not going to be here forever as age and death are surely taking a toll on them.

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