FORMER Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) combatants have claimed that over 20 000 of their colleagues were languishing in poverty after they were allegedly sidelined during the war veterans vetting exercise.
BY SILAS NKALA
ZPRA Freedom Fighters’ Association secretary-general, Petros Sibanda, made the remarks yesterday, where he also announced plans to hold separate Heroes Day commemorations at Lady Stanley cemetery in Bulawayo today.
“The vetting process of the war veterans has been discriminatory and we have over 20 000 members of Zipra and Zapu, who were sidelined and never benefited from the process,” he said.
Sibanda said that ZPRA cadres contributed immensely during the liberation war and in post-independent Zimbabwe.
“Whereas Zimbabwe commemorates heroes and celebrates their prospects in liberating the country and contributions to its development, ZPRA freedom fighters note with sadness that the current establishment is selective in recognising the roles played by Zapu and its military wing Zipra in the liberation of the country,” he said.
“We note with sadness the deliberate distortions of the history of Zimbabwe’s liberation and development by the current divisive government. The narrative has been turned into a Zanu and Zanla conquering affair, while the role of Zapu and ZPRA is totally erased from the face of the earth. The government, today, only commemorates and mentions those heroes whom they deem to have been politically correct in the eyes of Zanu PF itself collapsed into one man band.”
Sibanda said it has been norm that ZPRA and Zapu’s outstanding fighters have been reduced to villains at every opportunity, while Zanu PF villains are accorded hero status.
“During annual heroes celebrations, we are not spared the humiliation of watching the nation honouring those who never contributed anything to the creation and development of this nation, while the gallant heroes are ignored simply because they belong to a different political conviction,” he said.
“As an example, we could contrast Swazini Ndlovu, who was overlooked, and Border Gezi, who lies at the National Heroes’ Acre as a national hero, that is, not mentioning General Lookout Masuku and others. In our commitment to contribute to the proper definition of a hero and in our quest to correct this country’s distorted history, ZPRA, in conjunction with Ibhetshu likaZulu, will this heroes’ holiday commemorate and honour all unsung heroes of Zimbabwe, most of them being Zapu and ZPRA freedom fighters.”
Sibanda said the celebrations will start at Lady Stanley Cemetery and there will be a procession to Stanley Square in Makokoba, where Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa will address the gathering.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general, Mbuso Fuzwayo said the Light Machine Gun Choir and several other groups from the region will provide entertainment during the procession.