Zanu PF should stop tarnishing good name of our country's liberation war veterans

War vets

If I were to declare that teachers had resolved to support and campaign for President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, for the 2023 elections -— who exactly would these “teachers” be?

Is there any way of ascertaining that all (or at least, the vast majority) of our teachers in Zimbabwe would have made this resolution, and were on board?

Or, possibly, this would only be a certain section of our educators, who aligned themselves with the ruling Zanu PF party — possibly, even with an identifiable name, such as, Teachers For ED.

So, would it not be disingenuous if I were to make a blanket statement to the effect that eachers had resolved to support and campaign for Mnangagwa.

The more accurate and truthful statement should be — “a small group of Zanu PF-aligned teachers, calling themselves Teachers For ED has resolved to support and campaign for Mnangagwa.”

Yet, this sort of deliberate deceit, misleading, and outright lies have tragically become the norm in our country.

Surely, what does Zanu PF and its accomplices mean when they make such wild declarations as, War veterans declare war on Chamisa, or War vets support Mnangagwa!

Exactly who are the war veterans being referred to here?

Who today can honestly lay claim to being the voice of all veterans of our country's 1960s and 70s protracted liberation struggle?

I for one, am in constant touch with several of our intrepid sons and daughters of the soil and, I can boldly assert that they definitely do not support Mnangagwa and Zanu PF, although they may also not necessarily back the main opposition CCC (led by Nelson Chamisa) — as much as they have never declared war against him.

In fact, the person who accorded me the opportunity that profoundly changed my life in 1991 (while still doing the Lower Sixth Form at Kwekwe High School) to write a social justice and political analysis newspaper column, although I had already been penning news stories since 1989 was a local war veterans leader, Dominic Mazango, who owned a publication in the city.

Of course, initially I had absolutely no idea that he was a former combatant of the liberation struggle due his acceptance and endorsement of my bold criticism of the Zanu PF regime's grand-scale corruption, and its barbaric attacks on dissenting voices of the time.

Nonetheless, I was soon pleasantly surprised to learn of this fact — which made me admire and respect him for continuing to unflinchingly stand up for the values of the fight for independence that were founded on tenets of democracy human rights and the equitable sharing of our national resources among all the country's citizens regarded as equal.

He was quite aware, even back then in the 1980s and 90s, that the political party which had brought liberation from colonial rule, had wantonly betrayed the same struggle, and the thousands of lives lost — as the ruling elite had, in typical Animal Farm style, morphed into the new oppressor.

Needless to say, his beliefs were not isolated as, ever since that time in 1991 till today, I have been so privileged and honoured to have established strong linkages and friendships with many veterans of our liberation struggle some of whom were commanders, and proceeded to senior positions in government, military and war veterans' movements.

These are men and women I hold in high esteem — even though, we may not necessarily agree on everything — on account of their principled and unwavering stance in jealously guarding and safeguarding the true values of the struggle.

They are staunchly opposed to the manner in which the Zanu PF government (both under ousted late President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the current Mnangagwa) has heartlessly ruined the lives and livelihoods of millions of fellow countrymen and women, largely through rampant pillaging and plundering of our national resources, as well as incomprehensible economic incompetence and mismanagement.

Similarly, they harbour an intense disdain towards the trampling of the citizenry's human rights and shrinking of democratic space — with Zanu PF virtually turning Zimbabwe into a one-party State, and declaring itself the only legitimate party entitled to govern the country — while any opposition to its misrule met with unbridled ruthlessness and brutality.

There is no greater betrayal of the war of independence than this.

They may not necessarily support the main opposition CCC — but, they will always uncompromisingly stand up for, and respect the values for which the liberation war was fought which include the freedom and right of the opposition party to exist and freely function according to globally acceptable democratic tenets.

Therefore, when I read screaming news headlines such as War veterans declare war on Chamisa or War veterans support Mnangagwa, I was extremely perplexed.

Who exactly are these war veterans that are being quoted?

I am certainly not denying that there are genuine former combatants of our war of independence who have resolved to undertake such a mission.

However, what I have a problem with is the attempt at packaging all war veterans under the same banner.

There could be nothing more misleading and deceptive than such misinformation and disinformation.

In fact, I detest and find truly repulsive such efforts at tarnishing the image and good name of these valiant men and women who sacrificed everything for all of us to enjoy real freedom and prosperity in our country — a dream that has been callously crushed and destroyed by the Zanu PF regime.

These are people who have largely been thrown under the bus by the Zanu PF regime — and are enduring the same poverty and suffering as millions of Zimbabweans, possibly existing under far worse conditions than those they fought against during colonial rule.

Not all war veterans have sold their souls to the devil as there are numerous out there who still remember what they went to battle for.

They never placed their lives on the line for only one political party, neither did they fight for a few in the ruling elite to enjoy the fruits of our independence — or, for the barbaric and heinous persecution of those who speak up and stand up against the counter-revolutionaries in power.

Here is a lesson for us all — today's new generation of revolutionaries should never fight in the corner of any particular political party or leader but for the entirety of the people of Zimbabwe.

Otherwise, we will just be breeding and grooming future veterans of the struggle, who will be partisan accomplices in the oppression of those who speak up and stand up against any new governing party.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator.

Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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