A letter to our war veterans

via A letter to our war veterans | The Zimbabwean 6 August 2014 by Vince Musewe

If there is any time that requires that same spirit that drove you into to the bush it is now.

I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that those of you who are genuine war veterans went through in order to fight for our freedom. I cannot imagine the sacrifice you made when some of you left all you had to join the liberation struggle – with no promise that you would survive. As Dzinanshe Machingura put it, your choice was to die fighting for your freedom rather than living under a colonial system that oppressed us all. I respect you for that.

I sat with my cousin the other day, who told me of the horrid conditions that our liberation fighters had to endure. They would dig graves first thing each day, in anticipation of impending death. He told me how food was scarce and how they survived on wild fruit and berries. He explained how they were never properly equipped to fight the war and treasured the few bullets they carried. How they had to sleep in caves or in the bush when it was raining. It must have been a terrible experience that none of us who now take our freedom for granted can ever imagine.

For that I must honour your sacrifice and contribution. The sad reality is that the fruits of the sacrifices you made are hardly evident today because a few men have usurped the struggle as theirs alone. They have even used you and continue to do so.

In other countries war veterans are all heroes, there is no distinction on which political party you fought under. They are honoured each year in their totality. Today most of you who genuinely believed in a new Zimbabwe live in poverty and are forgotten. That is scandalous.

The Zimbabwe we want is not yet here. We can never accept this system that has been created mostly by those who were living in comfort while directing the liberation struggle from African capital cities. We cannot allow those who were overseas studying to be the heroes while most of you who suffered each and every day at the battle front and faced unimaginable danger, rot in poverty and destitution.

Zanu (PF) has dismally failed to create the Zimbabwe you all imagined and I continue to wonder when you will realise the great lie; the lie that only a few are heroes and that only a few are entitled to the benefits of our so called freedom.

We will only be free when we create a democratic society where each and every Zimbabwean can live up to their full potential. Where politicians do not control us or interfere in shaping the future we want.

It is shameful and embarrassing what our country has become and I ask you: are you going to accept this? You never accepted that a white man was better than you and therefore entitled to better life conditions, why should you accept that black men must dominate and oppress you? The black man has proven that he is worse than the whites you fought. He has become greedy and corrupt and cares nothing for you.

My dear brothers and sisters, I know there are some who go around claiming to be war veterans, but we all know that they are fake. Why have you allowed your contribution to be soiled by a few misguided characters? Being called a war veteran is surely an honour that cannot be claimed by those who hardly contributed.

I feel pity for you and wish you would take the responsibility to make things right. The objectives of the liberation struggle were to create a country that does not oppress any man or woman; a country where all are equal under the law and entitled to benefit from the resources of this country. If we look at all sectors of this economy, none of you are benefiting. In fact, it is as if you do not exist and yet you sit and accept this.

In the Zimbabwe we shall create, we will continually honour you and those who perished in Nyadzonya and Chimoio; those are our true heroes. We will ensure that you are looked after by the rest of us for the sacrifice you made and that you lead a decent quality of life, we owe it to all of you.

Zimbabwe belongs to all of us. It does not belong to an individual or a few men.

I therefore urge all of you to claim your honour and support the emergence of a free democratic and prosperous country. Zanu (PF) has failed to create that for all of us and we therefore must ensure that we renew the leadership of this country as a matter of urgency.

Your brother in the new struggle for the total freedom of all Zimbabweans.

– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at vtmusewe@gmail.com


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    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    A good article Vince.

    I am old enough to have fought in the war, from its start. Violence is never good, and grave mistakes were made by both sides. However, history has been carefully repainted over the last 34 years.

    First of course is that Zanu and Zapu were not “fighting the British” – they were fighting the Rhodesians, who in their turn were also fighting the British. It was the Brits who imposed the real UN sanctions.

    Next, towards the end of the war, the majority of the armed forces were not white. That is a difficult bone for many to swallow.

    What is also forgotten is that people like me were not fighting for racial privelege but were fighting terrorism, the same people who have destroyed the country with corruption and violence since 1980. Gukurahundi was the exact same tactics that ZANLA had always used. I saw many atrocities committed by them, and my young brother was involved in cleaning up after the Elim massacre.

    To me it is a tragedy that the UK (Thatcher) would not recognise the Muzorewa-Smith unity government, due to pressure from OAU dicatorships they wished to curry favour with.

    After the war I spoke to many Real war veterans; we were happy to have survived and joked that we never shot one-another. Universally, we wanted to build a new free, prosperous and non-racist country together.

    The relentless hatred and racism spouted by Mugabe has destroyed the nation, not only economically but morally as well. As Allan Paton wrote, “Cry, the beloved country”

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    Once upon a time, Ian Smith said:
    The Africans in Rhodesia are the happiest Africans in the world.
    The response was scornful laughter all over the world.
    Smith was deluded.
    Yesterday I walked through the city of Harare, along Robert Mugabe Road, down to South Avenue.
    There were many people on the streets.
    But there was no laughter; not a single smile.
    No joie de vivre for which we used to be renown.

    Mr Smith’s Africans may not have been the happiest in the world.
    But Mr Mugabe’s born-free citizens are deeply distressed.
    They have been told in 2000 and in 2002 and in 2005 and in 2008 and in 2013
    That there will be no freedom by peaceful democratic means.
    No one man one vote.
    Only Mugabe and his wicked dynasty forever.

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    Coz they have allowed to be used and tainted by Zanu PF’s brutal code of conduct,they now see themselves as inseparable with the party,without any window out-of the depravity they have treated the masses with in conjunction.Assurances like yours Vince are needed indeed-that say to them they can still be spared from prosecution by any government besides a Zanu PF’one based on your above criteria that you used to spare and pay homage to them.

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    Angela Wigmore 7 years ago

    Vince, as always, a very reasoned and balanced post (except I cannot acquiesce to ‘colonial oppression’ after Smith became PM. The RF’s mandate about voting rights, ie. ”one man one vote” being limited to certain educational or financial levels, was endorsed to obviate the situation Zimbabwe is in now.)

    And who are these ‘so-called’ war-vets? Most of them would now have to be over 50-60 years old. Are they really the ones who are taking up arms against a non-enemy? Somehow I don’t think so.

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    revenger-avenger 7 years ago

    The usual armchair academic naive gullible guff from a self appointed grandstanding ” expert analysis “. Your war vets “heroes ” were in 1979 nothing more than cowardly child rapists and murderers. They still are. Gosh you are a dreamer deadbeat plagiarist

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    Bambazonke 7 years ago

    Charles 100% . I was 10 when the war ended so don’t know to much but thatcher was Southern Africa biggest problem and that proberbly where it all started !!!

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    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    Yep, “Perfidious Albion”

    I remember listening to the radio while driving, when living in Johannesburg. The Brits had been up to something again and after the news clip they played “Perfidia”, a popular tune at the time. I nearly choked, laughing!

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    peter tosh 7 years ago

    Don’t be a fake Vince why do you talk of Nyadzonya and Chimoio only, what about other places. You are a tribalist mi nah deal wit dat bomboclaat.

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    I was told by a Rhodesian vet that Mugabe was a coward enticing others to risk their lives, the true heroes are those who died in the rebellion not the cowards that ran away.no war was won by zanu or Mugabe.

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      supermondo As much as I dislike the man in any sort of a war you don’t expect Angela Merkil for example to be in the front line.

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    simbi 7 years ago

    Supermondo you are 100% correct and Charles well written

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    ZPF rule by fear. Fear is the most successful weapon in the devils arsenal. We have allowed ourselves to be overcome by this thing and as a so called Christian nation we should be more vigilant and discerning. Think about Romania under that maniac. It was also a nation controlled by fear and yet, as the true story goes, intercessors met diligently to listen for the Lord’s will and tore down that stranglehold of fear. One day the wall of fear crumbled and Romania was set free. We have the weapon of prayer. Let the church awake and use it. Fear is NOT from God. The battle is the Lord’s. And who will the Lord listen too? Those who have clean hands and a pure heart. Let us repent and pray instead of tearing each other to pieces. We all want the same thing for Zimbabwe.

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    Mandevu 7 years ago

    Good words Vince. Yes there were many places other than Nyandzonya and Chimoio, but these are examples, and everyone will have their own that reflects their own thoughts and memories

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    Nyoni 7 years ago

    We have only one task my people and that is getting rid of Zanu and starting afresh . We must work together as one and heal our wounds for all Zimbabweans. We will be free. Pamberi ne Zimbabwe. Pasi ne Zanu.

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    moyokumusha 7 years ago

    Vince, the Rhodesians called them Terrorists, gooks, gandanga’s etc and they were right. Your ‘ real war vet ‘ paints a picture of hardship and struggle, yet they terrorised the rural people and raped the girls. They demanded food and drink and respect. They did not earn it.

    They were the judge and executioner to many a poor person. The Rhodesian forces were far better and were genuinely trying to protect the rural folk. The rural folk are the real victims and the ones who suffered hardship.

    To put this in perspective. It was the ZIPRA forces who shot at a Kuwirirana bus as it emerged from a river and wounded several children and two adults. They then left being drunk on drink which they had taken for free from the local business. It was the White Policeman and his 4 constables that came to our rescue and they even got an aeroplane in to evacuate the wounded to hospital. The people from Masoro will remember this. The drunk ‘ liberators’ left us to die and demanded our loyalty, and it is that very same attitude that we see today.

    It was the people who suffered and are still suffering the true hardship.

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    There are good and bad in each and every group. That is why there are two groups of War vet associations. The leadership has turned out to be bad. Mistakes were made on both sides. Some of those who fought on either side were fighting for ideals. When the war was over some just went about their business and tried to put their lives together. Others went into crime. With that being said I don’t think these kind of comments got anything to do with the problems we face at this time and point, neither do I think they are helpful other than to upset those that fought in the war and do not subscribe to this governments actions since it came to power. I have too much respect for the likes of Joshua Nkomo whom I knew to refer to him as a terrorist.

    Joshua Nkomo once said..”We do not fight the white man. We fight the system.”

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      Doris 7 years ago

      Doc. Viscount disasters?

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        Doris things happened during the war. Unfortunately some of the things not so good. But things did happen on all sides.The Lancaster house agreement was supposed to bring people together and even Ian Smith did not harp on the Viscounts for obvious reasons. On of those on one of those flights was an Indian teacher that taught me. That is in our History books. The problem we have is now.

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          Just as an after thought Doris, there is never a war fought without regret. As long as we do that the is hope for a better life. This man has killed during a time of peace.

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    I think Vince has a very romantic view of what transpired during the struggle, hence his well written article.
    The so-called war-vets are not going to be swayed by these words because, as someone has said, they consisted mostly of a bunch of crooks, rapists and layabouts in the ’70s, courtsey of one I Smith, it must be said.
    Add to that the braiwashing they underwent and one has a thouroghly confused animal.
    Noble thoughts of country and the suffering masses are alien to this creature.
    One only has to go back to their utterances on the eventuality of a government other than ZANU.

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    Das Reich 7 years ago

    Vince Musewe is a deluded idiot…he is also a flip flopper…remember his article,” a nation of educated idiots”….his reaching out to Emmerson Mnangagwa…he is a dangerous writer who should never be taken seriously