War vets: From heroes to villains

Source: War vets: From heroes to villains – DailyNews Live

29 June 2017

HARARE – On Wednesday, a section of former liberation war fighters
descended on the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare to demonstrate against War
Veterans minister, Tshinga Dube, for airing views which they believe are
inconsistent with Zanu PF’s constitution.

Dube stirred a hornet’s nest recently by openly validating the Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans Association’s controversial call to have
President Robert Mugabe name his successor to end the brawling in Zanu PF
over his succession.

The protests, even though poorly attended, brought to the fore the fault
lines among the former freedom fighters going back to history when they
could not execute the liberation struggle as a single force, instead
fighting as Zanla and Zipra – being the military wings of Zanu and Zapu.

After independence in 1980, the cracks could not mend with the war
veterans getting themselves embedded in Zanu PF and Zapu, instead of being
apolitical, until the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987. Even then,
Wilfred Mhanda, aka Dzinashe Machingura, and a few others had broken ranks
with their colleagues to form the Zimbabwe Liberation Platform.

More cracks were to emerge because of the infighting in Zanu PF, with war
veterans disenchanted with Mugabe’s rule joining other political
formations, among them the National People’s Party (led by Joice Mujuru)
and MDC (under Morgan Tsvangirai). Others have become enmeshed in the
warring Team Lacoste and Generation 40 factions in the ruling party.

This is indicative of the absence of a strong ideological grounding that
should have created a rallying point for the war veterans.

All along, we thought they were driven to take up arms by the desire to
free their countrymen from colonialism. That narrative is now hard to
believe because yesterday’s liberators are morphing into monsters and
mercenaries concerned about themselves only.

It started with the ex-combatants demanding to be paid money for their
contribution during the armed struggle, which became the genesis of the
on-going economic meltdown after the Zimbabwe dollar lost more than 70
percent of its value on November 14, 1997 in what became known as the
Black Friday.

Ever since, the war veterans have been upping the ante – demanding one
thing after the other – thus forcing Mugabe to admonish them at his
Manicaland youths interface rally.

Yesterday’s demonstration against Dube for speaking his mind, never mind
his alleged factional leanings, is indicative of the ex-combatants’
repugnance against the very freedoms they fought for.

If political parties and countries can amend their constitutions to adapt
to their changing circumstances, why should it be a crime for Dube to
raise an issue that, though not consistent with Zanu PF’s constitution,
many people feel is contributing to the uncertainty in our body politic?

After all, the same war veterans pushed for the amendment of Zanu PF’s
constitution to allow for “a one-centre of power”, whatever that means.

In our humble opinion, the former liberation war fighters are losing the
high moral ground they used to command at independence by pandering to
selfish and short-term agendas that are aimed at feathering their nests.