Is ZANU PF founded on fake liberation war credentials?

As the infighting within Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party deepens with each passing day – and the antagonistic factions continually questioning each other’s liberation war credentials – one can not help but wonder whether the whole party’s revolutionary history is even true.

Source: Is ZANU PF founded on fake liberation war credentials? – The Zimbabwean 15.08.2016

Ever since the late 1980s, when ZANU PF’s then Secretary-General Edgar Twoboy Tekere fell out of favour with the party’s top brass, over his vicious opposition to their corruption and contravention of their so-called ‘Leadership Code’ – which was supposed to be a ‘communist’ code that kept them from amassing wealth for themselves – the party has had a habit of discrediting the ‘dissident’s’ liberation war credentials.

Tekere was accused of having not contributed much to the liberation struggle, to the point of even questioning his role in his and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s much famed crossing into Mozambique on foot, to take charge of the liberation struggle.

Tekere – who proceeded to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) – was accused of being a drunkard and a lunatic, who even failed to write minutes during the party’s politburo meetings.

His seniority within the party during the struggle was also questioned, as ZANU PF sought to minimise the influence he had during the war.

I remember, during those days, finding these accusations very strange, as I could not understand why – if he had been so incompetent – ZANU PF kept him on the job for such a long time, only to dismiss him when he had stood up against their corruption.

That was the first time I realised that, either ZANU PF shielded those close to it – even if they were corrupt, incompetent, and had dubious curriculum vitae – or the party was  fabricating its history, and as such, could just write and re-write a member’s history at will.

Fast forward the clock to the 1990s, when the party fell out of favour with Margaret Dongo – who then formed the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD).

Similarly, her liberation war credentials were questioned.

I remember meeting the then Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander Air Marshall Josiah Tungamirai, at a wedding party, who burst into a diatribe accusing Dongo of lying about her liberation war credentials, and that she was only useful to the male combatants for other things.

However, these ZANU PF theatrics have since risen to a new high, as these accusations have now become the norm.

When Joice Mujuru was elevated to the post of the party and government’s Vice President, her liberation war history was glorified to unprecedented levels, as she was touted to have downed a Rhodesian Air Force helicopter single-handedly.

However, as soon as her long relationship with the party came to an abrupt end – thereby, leading to her formation of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) – the nation was told that she never downed any copter.

Actually, her protagonists fell over each other in trying to trivialise her – and her fellow colleagues who had also fallen out with ZANU PF – contribution to the struggle.

Jabulani Sibanda, the then leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), was not spared either, as his credentials as a struggle veteran were also discredited – only after he had dared challenge the First Lady – yet he had been allowed to lead the association for years without any problems.

Last week, the nation was to hear more revelations, as the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Constantino Chiwenga made comments that were widely believed to have been targeted at Mandie Chimene – who is ‘leading’ a faction of war veterans –  insinuating that she never fought in the liberation struggle, yet she had been allowed to carry those credentials for decades.

I am very sure that this is just the beginning of all these shenanigans within ZANU PF, and that more high profile ‘revelations’ are to be expected, as this has become the party’s modus operandi.

Normally, I would not care much about ZANU PF’s internal circuses, but what we have here is a matter of national importance, because we need the true history of the country to be told.

We can never allow our children, and indeed ourselves, to be taught a fabricated version of the country’s history  – one that is manufactured at ZANU PF headquarters.

A country’s history is its guide to its future, as such, it needs to be accurate.

How are we, as a nation, to know who within ZANU PF is being touted as a liberation icon today, but only to be discredited tomorrow?

How are we to be sure that when Mugabe is gone, the new ZANU PF leadership will not suddenly tell us that his contribution to Zimbabwe’s independence was never what we were told?

Are we not going to be told all sorts of revelations – maybe on how he usurped power, or maybe on why he and Tekere were initially arrested by Mozambique’s liberation movement Frelimo, when they crossed the border to lead the ZANLA forces?

Such revelations are to be expected, as already it has being reported that Margaret Dongo, at a recent ZimPF rally, was casting doubt on Mugabe’s contribution to the liberation war effort.

Quite frankly, the country’s history as it is being taught today can not be trusted anymore.

There is need for the proper history to be written and taught, and that can only be done by an independent body of historians, and other stakeholders.

I believe, that ZANU PF can never be trusted to establish such a body.

Ideas can be placed out there on how that body might be constituted, as this is a matter of national importance that the country’s true history may finally be told.

Zimbabwe’s true history is out there, and just needs to be captured and recorded.

The same applies to the issue of declaring of the nation’s heroes.

A country’s hero can not be decided by a political party, no matter how much contribution that party made to the liberation of the country.

Mugabe once said that those who laid at the National Heroes Acre were only those who fought in the country’s liberation struggle – but as we have already asserted, these people’s histories can be written and rewritten at will.

So how can the nation trust ZANU PF to declare who is a liberation struggle hero or not?

Besides, whether ZANU PF acknowledges it or not, there was another party that participated in the liberation struggle – ZAPU – and should be involved in the making of such decisions.

ZANU PF can not hide behind the Unity Accord, because, quite frankly, that was torn apart once ZAPU’s Dumiso Dabengwa and others pulled out of this agreement, and as such, the liberation struggle ZAPU exists as a separate political entity.

Denying this fact is plainly disingenuous.

It is owed to this generation, and the generations to come, that Zimbabwe’s true history be told, as ZANU PF has clearly made a mockery of the nation’s legacy for political expediency.

I truly believe that ZANU PF has enjoyed undeserved power since 1980 – not only through fraudulent elections, intimidation, violence, and the abuse of state resources –  but also through deception and the peddling of a distorted history.

It is time that the people of Zimbabwe finally know where they truly come from, and who they are, in order for us to move forward in our quest for development and prosperity.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: Follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana


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    Yes, it is common knowledge that what has been peddled by zanu pf as liberation war history since 1980 is nothing more than zanu pf propaganda & utter falsehoods.

    And, all those who were of age and present then, including myself now 55, obviously know the truth. But who would dare to say the truth in Mugabe’s face and his dogs of war? The truth is not far, and has never been; it is just but under our nose. It’s the fear factor. Mind you we are dealing with a ruthless deceitful regime. So, we just have to keep the correct History in our cabinets for the sake of dear lives for now. It will eventually be told without fear or favour when the time is ripe. So, fear not countryman.

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      Joe Cool 6 years ago

      You have it right – R G Mugabe was never a combatant, as he persistently insinuates that he was, without stating it outright, just as Winston Churchill was never a combatant, but never thought of claiming to be a ‘war veteran’ of the Second World War.

      Mugabe’s ‘war credentials’ are a falsehood that most Zimbaweans are ignorant of.

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        FenwickJF 6 years ago

        Winston Churchill spent six months on the western front in 1915 during the 1st World war with the Royal Scot’s battalion. I don’t think that invoking his war record bears any comparison.

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        ntaba 6 years ago


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      Fallenz 6 years ago

      Yes. Just how much combat did Mugabe and Tekere see… other than Tekere’s murder of Adams, if that be rightly called “combat”, any more than bombing civilians was “combat”. There are other ways to describe that.

      Tekere wasn’t an altogether bad lot. Perhaps his supposed PTSD and drunkedness was simply his anguish of knowing what he would face in the coming realm for his crimes… especially once he recognized that what he had supported and been imprisoned for was actually a bank heist in disguise, which would benefit only the ZANU-PF elite.

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    What amazes me are the number of youngsters claiming war veteran status some probably not born till after 1980, and the farce continues! I am a war veteran, and now 68 years old but I guess it depends which side you fought for to be an orrwet.

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    Tinomunamataishe 6 years ago

    I think that the history has been written so far to suit a certain clique.

    It’s common knowledge that Mugabe’s contribution to the liberation was minimal. He came into this focussed on absolute power and you can see that people who got arrested and/or tortured in the period 1975 to 1979 had some links somehow to Robert Mugabe and his bid for power.

    I think the issue of trivialising some people’s contributions has been done deliberately to annoy them but now it has gone full cycle to the point that people like Mutsvangwa who were trivialising other people’s contributions not so long ago had their role also trivialised in less than a year after falling out with Zanu PF.

    The truth is that a lot of these guys have over inflated their contributions in order to get an advantage in government posts, farm allocation, corruption etc.

    Take a look at Chimene. She only went to Mozambique in 1976 and so assuming she started contributing on arrival her contribution only lasted a mere three years. But she is not the only one.

    On the other hand there other people with immense contributions but for one reason or another Mugabe refuses to recognise them and that is the side you hear because at this point Robert has the microphone.

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    Doris 6 years ago

    Teach our children about the countries history? They are being taught a pack of lies. How about learning how Zimbabweans get everything for free. I.e. education, health, old age pensioners getting funded by the State? Even the railway and roads are free. It’s time this syllabus was revisited and corrected.

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    Yes all comments are valid. Most true war vets don’t speak of themselves or exploits, if anything the contribution of others, whilst they retain their modesty and humility. War is not a game. Their honour is to have survived it and to remember those that fell, from General to Private. Not everyone can be a hero. It’s about contribution and dedication to the cause one believes in. A team is not one player. A goal keeper saves goals and a striker scores them, not the other way round! In the case of Mugabe and his inner circle the answer is to dream up fabulous war stories for themselves but along the way they ensured those that posed a threat were either liquidated or cast aside.
    A pressing point is Josiah Tongogara in late December 1979 and latterly, Solomon Majuru a few years ago.

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    Mukanya 6 years ago

    An almost accurate version of the liberation history will have to be re-written when Zimbabwe is finally liberated, not these “suit myself” episodes currently being peddled around.

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    chadreque Jambaia 6 years ago

    This is a truly an awakening insight.The question is whether we will be able to disown those at heroes acre on the backing of falsified history.I think when the time comes to revisit the truth and correcting serious mistakes,it should be allowed to take place.I mean we can redo everything through a referendum.
    Apparently deserving war veterans who happened to have an opposition mentality to ZANUPF’s autocratic rule are lying in unmarked graves in utter poverty at rural cemeteries!

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    Ronald Macdonald 6 years ago

    ZANU military wing did not do much actual fighting with the Rhodesian military at all. Their specialty was soft targets. Innocent villagers tortured, maimed and murdered. Isolated farmers. When they saw the army coming they always ran like chickens. They only battles they ever fought were when they were trapped and couldn’t escape, for example Chimoio.

    If you understand that they tortured, raped and murdered their way into power then their performance as a government is explicable

    The ZAPU side may have some genuinely heroic figures, but please do not look to ZANU for war heroes, there are none to be found.

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      Joe Cool 6 years ago

      I would have described Chimoio as a ‘rout’ rather than a battle, and I invite readers – particularly ZANU PF – to name, describe and identify actual ‘battles’ that took place between ZANU and the Rhodesian security forces.

      Any takers?

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      Kevin 6 years ago

      Ronald, you should read more before criticizing the conduct of the war by ZANLA. Their goal was to make the country outside of the major urban areas ungovernable. This a lesson taken from Mao and Che Guevara. If viewed from that perspective then they were successful. All they had to do was make the war un-affordable to the Smith Government which they did. It matters not that they did not stand and fight. It was a successful tactic. What was stupid was Smiths declaration of UDI at a time when the war was beginning in 1965. He then had to fight the war with sanctions imposed, no help from the British and rest of the Western World, whilst his enemy was being financed by Russia and China. His only allies were the morally bankrupt South African Government and the bankrupt and war weary Portuguese. It was a mistake of the same magnitude as Hitlers invasion of Russia in June 1941, or the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour and Subic Bay in December 1941. It guaranteed the demise of his Government.

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        Joe Cool 6 years ago

        I think you’re a bit off the mark yourself, Kevin. The points being made were not in connection with ‘strategy’. They were in connection with people who did not actually fight anyone spending the next 36 years crowing endlessly about how heroic they were at the time. So I don’t really believe a discussion on Smith’s intelligence, or lack it, is remotely relevant to the topic under consideration.

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    C Frizell 6 years ago

    Ah well, I may as well join in. I am a 73 year old War Veteran. Unlike others for whom it seemed to define their life, it was an annoyance and inconvenience for me (and many others I think)

    I had never even heard the name Mugabe before 1980. But we all knew Ndabaningi Sithole, Joshua Nkomo, Abel Muzorewa. Dumiso Dabengwa too, possibly, and Lookout Masuku. I was only told about this guy Mugabe by a friend in Special Branch.

    In the early 80’s I got to know real ex-combatants and compare notes. We were all very happy the war had ended and now we could get down to rebuilding the country. I never met any animosity and we’d laugh that we’d missed shooting one another – and enjoy a beer. There was however quite a wide resentment of the “chefs” who’d hung out in Lusaka, Tanzania etc. drinking whiskey and screwing the young women. Mugabe and his mates were responsible for stirring up hatred of the Dreaded Rhodesians for political reasons. This was ironic because as has been said, he took no part in the actual war.

    From a wider point of view I find it disappointing that these Zanoids live in a past, 40 years ago. In the early 80’s we were all so full of hope and determination to work together. I blame Mugabe squarely for delinberately destroying that in his ceaseless lust for poersonal power.

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      Joe Cool 6 years ago

      Having screwed up on everything else, the only distraction he has to offer is the supposed glories of the past. It will have been noted that in photographs of him during the war period he was shown dressed in khaki to give the impression that he was in combat dress. Or maybe it was the sensible gear to wear when throwing his opponents into underground dungeons like rats and mice?

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        Brigadier 6 years ago

        You Remember the WIKILEAKS some war veteran Bregadier ******** who claimed Chiwenga of being an ordinary soldier during the liberation time as he did not had the proper training so its the whole team kkkkkkkkk

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    Harper 6 years ago

    I had a meeting with Tekere in 1981 at the CIO Offices in Mutare, he was obviously already very drunk at 11am.

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    Avril Avarams 6 years ago

    Mugabe ‘s cotribution was only when he was in prison and gave away the exact location of Chitepo’s whereabouts.Look no further Mugabe is the one who told the Smith spies about the exact location of Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Mkushi ,Mboroma and many more cambs to secure his release from prison.Mugabe went to Mozambique to steal power and get it at all costsThe elimination of guys like Mujuru, Tongogara ,Mahachi and others is just consolidation of powewr.Maybe someone can tell me why he destroyed the register of all the combatants who were recruited ,trained and fought in the struggle and died there.Thesew are the heroes who lying in unmarked graves,guys whose carasses were eaten by vultures.No one knws who they were,their parents and children are still asking pertinent questions about why they had fought in that war.They fought fornothing and died for free and not even recognised ,no compensation was paid to their families because the register was destroyed.Those who were not on the battlefrond survived and claimed $50 000,00 and received it in 1997.