via Heroes belong to the people | The Zimbabwean 04.06.14 by Editor
The new constitution, in Chapter 2 (National Objectives), recognises the role played by those who liberated Zimbabwe from colonial bondage. But it is sadly lacking when it comes to guiding the process of choosing heroes. This shortcoming calls for its revision to explicitly include a law that directs how government must identify and honour freedom fighters.
The recent decision by government not to confer one of Zimbabwe’s real sons of the soil, Wilfred Mhanda, aka Dzinashe Machingura, with hero status is just one more reason why there should be a definitive legal provision regarding war heroes.
There is no dispute around the role that Mhanda played in the fight for majority rule and independence. He worked closely with the late Solomon Mujuru, then the deputy to Josiah Magama Tongogara, in plotting the downfall of colonialism. He was a member of the Zanu High Command, a celebrated fighter and military trainer.
His only sin is that he decided to be his own man and was vocal against the likes of Robert Mugabe, the civilian leader of Zanu, and Zanla, its military wing. He would not shut up when he felt that his leaders were going astray. Because of that, he was labelled a rebel and was removed from his military position in 1977.
After independence in 1980, Mhanda continued to fight for real democracy and to expose the political charlatans that swamped the ruling party. Along the way, he made more enemies because of his forthright disposition.
It came as no surprise, therefore, when, upon his death, it was business as usual in Zanu (PF). “Who is Dzinashe Machingura?” was the arrogant question that one of his erstwhile comrades in arms, Rugare Gumbo, now the Zanu (PF) Secretary for Information, posed. What a sad development!
This is how the party has always treated vocal lieutenants – such as Edgar Tekere, Ndabaningi Sithole, Masipula Sithole and Thenjiwe Lesabe. If you dare to criticise, they throw you into history’s trash bin, preferring to move with “ever-obedient sons” only.
Most of us agree that the role of choosing our national heroes should not be left in the hands of one party. It should be an inclusive, national process. The new constitution should have addressed this. But it is not too late.
We would like to see an independent commission set up to address the complex question of national heroism. We need a law to spell out the composition of the commission – ensuring that it is independent – how it is chosen and its mandate.