Former ZPRA fighters held a Heroes Day celebration at Sizinda in Bulawayo on Monday to celebrate their own heroes and reminisce about their experiences in the liberation struggle.
The former freedom fighters noted how like the majority of people in Zimbabwe, they were also suffering under the hands of an oppressive regime led by selfish individuals and also denounced the economic meltdown presided over by a few elitist individuals including loss of social structures in Zimbabwe.
“We gather here today not because we don’t have any suitable place to be. We feel that at least here it is more common. We can reminisce and talk about our own issues in the middle of the community that supported us during the liberation struggle,” said Buster Magwizi, Spokesperson of the ZPRA Veterans Association who said the veterans were celebrating in dejection.
Magwizi said the ex- ZPRA cadres were celebrating their own heroes, recognising their valiant efforts to liberate Zimbabwe, adding that led by their commander in chief, the late Joshua Nkomo, they fought for nationalism and empowerment, not for individualism.
“We fought for the group we are amongst and the people here. We wish we could do these annually. This is a mobilisation spot so that we can be understood and accepted by the community because we are getting tired of blame that we veterans are responsible for every misgiving in this country because we too are suffering,” he stated.
As a former ZPRA commander of the Southern Front 3, Magwizi said the gathering with fellow compatriots commemorating the Heroes Day as ZPRA cadres is a very important milestone as it reminded them of the liberation struggle’s founding values.
“Many of our comrades died for the founding values and it is said that some are still buried in unmarked graves. Others are alive today but many have run out of strength and steam to talk about issues that affected them. It is very unfortunate we arrive at this day, where we see that the national heroes day itself is losing its significance due to apathy. Apathy resulting from the reaction on the handling of issues affecting heroes by authorities,” said the spokesperson.
“Take note of what happened last year in Harare when war veterans approached (Finance and Economic Minister (Prof) Mthuli Ncube’s office were arrested demanding a contribution increase for their welfare conditions. That issue has not been resolved until today. It is still suppressed. We believe the listening president is there to listen but does not take any action about it.”
Magwizi lamented that 42 years down the line, true narratives of the war were still unclear.
“Why? Because some people are trying to distort the narrative and continue domination and suppressing others and other narratives. It is very unfortunate and this is causing apathy on a national day like Heroes Day. They will resuscitate their gains if they only treat heroes in a proper heroes manner,” he said.
Stulo ‘Stoole ‘Matiwuza, a former ZPRA regional reconnaissance commander, who joined the war in 1970, decried how politics and politicking had destroyed Zimbabwe.
He said there was “too much focus on politics and not what people wanted.”
“It’s painful that today you talk about Heroes Day, what, this is an embarrassment. It’s not sincere. People are suffering a lot in this country. You ask yourself what has happened here in this country due to greedy people.”
Matiwuza concurred that it was sad that some of their dead comrades were still unaccounted for.
“We should also be going to countries such as Zambia and Mozambique, celebrating Heroes Day there where our other people are,” he said, adding how it was also worrisome that the true history of the liberation struggle was altered.
“We see fake history and it is painful to us. There is no truth but lies. I don’t agree with that. This country is suffering, the economy is dead, children are not going to school, hospitals have no medical equipment.”
The former intelligence official urged Zimbabwean leaders to decisively deal with this challenge.
“Let’s talk about this suffering. To the leaders, we ask you to please deal with this matter. Let’s not be liars. God will punish you for lying and stealing, doing bad things to the country. We went to war to fight for Zimbabwe but what is happening now is the opposite,” Matiwuza said.