ZAPU and ex-combatants of its Zipra military wing during the liberation struggle, celebrated the just-ended Heroes’ Day by honouring their fallen and unsung heroes interred at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Lady Stanley Cemetery has become a de facto Heroes’ Acre for many Zipra veterans among them Thenjiwe Lesabe, Lookout Masuku and Swazini Ndlovu, among others.
On Monday, while the country was celebrating Heroes’ Day, the opposition Zapu and Zipra were having a separate ceremony altogether to remember some of their unsung heroes who also include Charles Cadet Grey, Tafi Zibuya Moyo, Mtshena Sidile, Booker Muntwabantu Moyo, Alice Mazalu nee Sidile and Enock Tshindeni Taka, among others.
“The stories of our heroes need to be told,” said Zapu acting president Isaac Mabuka, who led Zipra veterans and their families to lay wreaths on tombs of their departed comrades.
“We are here to remember the ultimate sacrifice of those comrades lying scattered in the forests, caves, riverbanks and mineshafts of this country.
“We are here to commiserate with the widows and families who gave husbands and children to the struggle for liberation and freedom. We are here to rekindle empathy with those families still wondering about the fate of their husbands, wives, sons and daughters who never returned from the war.”
At one time, Zipra combatants threatened to bury their members at the National Heroes’ Acres in Harare without seeking permission as they were fed up with Zanu PF refusing to honour them.
Although the conferring of hero status should be a national issue, Zanu PF has over the years, made Heroes Acre a place where only its members are buried.
Former President Robert Mugabe once told the opposition and other critics to construct their own shrines if irked by the status quo.
Mabuka added: “We once more demand that the regime honours these heroes by releasing the archives that it confiscated. Those records belong to the people of this country. The future generations need to know the true story of the struggle.”
Earlier in 1982, State agents raided Nest Egg Farm owned by the opposition party and Zipra combatants and confiscated the entire archive of Zapu and Zipra records.
For years, government has refused to return Zapu properties including buildings and farms.