via Dongo lashes timid war vets – DailyNews Live 16 July 2015 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Firebrand democracy activist, Margaret Dongo, says war veterans and other liberation struggle stalwarts have an inexplicably pervasive fear of President Robert Mugabe, an unwelcome situation that is giving the nonagenarian free reign to misrule both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday in the wake of the death of two war veterans, Freedom Nyamubaya and Brigadier General Stephen Mao Hurungudo, the fearless Dongo said the way that Mugabe and Zanu PF were monopolising Heroes Acre in Harare symbolised this “unhealthy” state of affairs.
Nyamubaya died a fortnight ago, with Mugabe and Zanu PF refusing to confer her with national hero status — which many Zimbabweans thought she deserved — and with the minister of War Veterans Chris Mutsvangwa the sole voice in government who pushed visibly for her to be recognised as such.
The body of Hurungudo, who died last week, is apparently still at a Harare funeral parlour, waiting for Mugabe to pronounce on his status.
The miffed Dongo said Zanu PF had now demonstrated beyond doubt that real heroes were not an issue in the country and could be “forgotten” at the whims of one man and a few of his close minions.
“An independent board should be established to determine the criteria of bestowing hero status. It should be known that heroes are not only those who fought the liberation war, but also those who have made a remarkable contribution to the country.
“That board should comprise liberation war fighters and representatives from all sectors of the community. It should not be monopolised by a single party,” Dongo said.
She also pointed to the “absurdity” of the situation whereby in Mugabe’s absence there was often a decision-making vacuum, as acting presidents “are powerless and cannot make critical decisions”.
“Gushungo should show kuti vakura (Mugabe must know that he is now old) and has to pass on the button stick sooner or later. He should show that by giving power to the acting president to act whenever possible.
“Not zvekuti tinongotonga tichingotonga (not to rule for life) where people even fail to declare a hero. What if there is a crisis while he is travelling, since he is now behaving like Vasco da Gama going around the world in 82 days,” Dongo fumed.
“Ndapota, ngavasiye key dzepa national shrine (He must empower his lieutenants to declare hero status) that is if it (Heroes Acre) belongs to the nation. Cdes should remove the fear in them and start to speak out.
“Tirikukanyirwa madhaka pasina mvura yekugezesa (we are being treated like trash by our leaders),” the diminutive former Zanu PF legislator added.
With a few exceptions, Mugabe does not only have final say over who becomes a hero in the country, he also often personally presides over the burial of most of the fallen heroes.
When Nyamubaya died, the nonagenarian was away — with Zanu PF’s secretary for Administration, Ignatius Chombo, apparently at a loss about what should have happened, and in the end choosing to refer questions to Mutsvangwa, who was also in the dark about the matter.
Dongo said candidly, that most of her erstwhile Zanu PF colleagues and war veterans were afraid of demanding justice and thus chose to suffer in silence.
“Is he not ashamed kuita monopoly nedictatorship nepamakuva pese (Is Mugabe not ashamed to monopolise even graveyards)? Shame to him!” she said.
The outspoken war veteran and former intelligence officer, was threatened with death late last year for continuing to criticise Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule.
She told the Daily News then that it had become clear that someone high up was desperate to stop her criticising Mugabe and talking about some of the things she knew about the ruling party.
But she vowed that nothing would ever cause her not to stand by her principles and the truth, adding that she would continue to contribute to the democratisation of the country, including through narrating and dissecting the history and character of Mugabe, even if this did not please some bigwigs.
Dongo also challenged her ex-colleagues in Zanu PF then to “man up” and deal with the nonagenarian’s continuing misrule.
“Warning shots have been fired at me. Someone called and said we know what you are saying is true, but the situation is not right at the moment,” the former intelligence officer said.
“Another message was also delivered through my letter box and stressed that I should be careful. When I read it, I said I have no security and I cannot afford it,” she said.
“I said my security is God and that He has been my bodyguard throughout my life, and thus He remains my bodyguard even today,” Dongo said in an interview.
But despite the sustained threats, the former legislator — who was very close to Mugabe’s much-adored late wife, Sally — vowed to continue revealing pertinent issues about the true character of Mugabe.
Among the things that she has said that have upset Zanu PF bigwigs was that former Vice President Joice Mujuru was hounded out of power simply to make her pay the price for her late husband Solomon’s “sins” — a man she said Mugabe “feared”.
She also said some top Zanu PF officials were abusing the nonagenarian in his old age, as they manipulated their way to power, including through the contrived besmirching of the hapless former VP’s name.
Vowing to continue speaking for what was right, as well as all the downtrodden and her former comrades who were trapped in fear, Dongo said “my mission is to make sure that people of Zimbabwe all realise the fruits of our struggle”.
Dongo, who says she was mentored into politics by Sally, said she felt compelled to comment on critical national matters and the problems bedevilling Zanu PF because there was no one left “with the guts to challenge” Mugabe.
“I draw my energy, courage and confidence from my mentor Sally whom I shook hands with on the last day of her life. She said life is going to be tough, but be strong. Take care of the struggle — the name she gave to my last born son.
“She held my hand tired, and I shed tears. When the nurse tried to remove me from her bedside she (Sally) refused,” Dongo recalled sorrowfully.
“I have nothing I owe to anyone, not even a farm. I applied seven times for one and I was turned down. I received no tractor from anyone. I got nothing and therefore I am free and an independent cadre, and no one can hold me at ransom,” she continued.
Sally, nee Sarah Francesca Hayfron, who was from Ghana, died on January 21, 1992. She was widely respected and regarded as both a unifier and motherly figure within Zanu PF and the entire country.