via Mutsvangwa, please shut up – DailyNews Live 13 July 2015
HARARE – It is sad that an outstanding poet, freedom fighter, musician, gender activist and farmer, Tichaona Freedom Nyamubaya passed on. May her soul rest in peace.
While Nyamubaya was a rare breed, a candid and outspoken critic of the abuses that female freedom fighters endured at the hands of their male counterparts, it is ironic that the abuse she fought against during the war and post-independence period continues to dog the female freedom fighters even posthumously.
Speaking in an interview with the media after the late Nyamubaya was conferred provincial hero status, the minister responsible for the welfare of war veterans, Christopher Mutsvangwa, quickly seized the opportunity and began to abuse other female freedom fighters, particularly former vice president Joice Mujuru, whose role in the liberation struggle, Mutsvangwa persistently strives to denigrate while elevating the role played by male figures such as President Robert Mugabe, who was never at the front, above the sacrifices that female combatants offered to free the country.
The motor-mouthed Mutsvangwa was quick to use the death of Nyamubaya, in a clear case of abusing the dead, to score some cheap factional political points on Mujuru.
“She was one of our outstanding female cadres who operated under (Air Marshal) Perrance Shiri’s command.
“Freedom was at the front, not some who claim to have downed helicopters,” he said in apparent reference to Mujuru.
It was hypocritical for Mutsvangwa to shower Nyamubaya with eulogies posthumously when he did not care a hoot in the ex-combatant’s hour of need after she was involved in a near fatal accident at the corner of Josiah Tongogara Avenue and Second Street when her car rammed into a tree that some believe was the one on which Mbuya Nehanda was hanged.
Clearly, Nyamubaya was in need of care, compassion, company and cash for her medical bills as she lay in that Parirenyatwa hospital bed and Mutsvangwa was nowhere near the celebrated war veteran’s side.
It was people that Nyamubaya had come to know and acquaint herself to, well after the war, the likes of Richard Mashave and Kindness Paradza and a host of journalists, who used to pay her visits during the hospital’s visiting hours to bring her goodies, love and hope.
Never on any one day did Mutsvangwa pay her a visit yet the hysterical minister of War Veterans jumped on the occasion of her death and seized the opportunity to score some cheap political points on people that Nyamubaya respected and revered as seniors during the war and in the party.
It is quite unfortunate that Mutsvangwa has used his loud mouth to portray himself as the prototypical war veteran, the embodiment of everything that the war of liberation stands for and succeeded in making himself some “Mr Zimbabwe” to whom everyone of the 13 million citizens owes some gratitude for political independence.
He reviles anyone whose contribution in the war eclipses his manufactured pedestal that now entitles him and his wife to ministerial posts.
Mutsvangwa has often used State newspapers, and now funeral wakes, to take potshots at Mujuru, who for reasons of not wanting to argue with imbeciles, has chosen to ignore his rantings about the February 17, 1974 helicopter downing that Mutsvangwa might not have been aware of since he was still reading law at the then University of Rhodesia.
Despite Mutsvangwa’s distortion of history and his spirited efforts to trivialise the role played by female combatants, particularly the role played by (Joice) Mujuru in liberating this country, stubborn historical facts would always show that February 17, 1974 was a big day in the lives of comrades Teurai Ropa Nhongo and Mhembwe who survived Rhodesian forces air strikes although Cde Mhembwe got injured thus could not escape into Zambia where the then 19-year-old Teurai Ropa found sanctuary after downing the chopper.
The story about this gallant female combatant was reported on international media in June 1974 and Zambian newspapers carried it, after the youthful Teurai Ropa and Rugare Gumbo had addressed a press conference where she narrated her ordeal.
The Herald, after independence, interviewed Mhembwe and excepts of that interview are available in the paper’s library and corroborate the facts surrounding the downing of the chopper by Mujuru and how Mhembwe got injured, surrendered his AK 47 folding butt, medical kit and ammunition to the youthful Mujuru before he vanished into some Mozambican village where his sister was married.
These are historical facts that were corroborated by real ex-combatants way before Mujuru became vice president yet some delusional, position-obsessed charlatan wants to use their access to the media to distort historical facts for political expediency and gamesmanship.
Mutsvangwa has always come across as someone who is unstable and bitter whenever he is not rewarded with a government post and has often used his undiplomatic, crass and uncouth language to attract attention and eventually earn political office.
He has, at some fora, accused Mugabe of having a deep-seated revulsion of war veterans and his argument has been that after independence, most of the people who came to work in his office and occupied powerful positions in his government and Cabinet were always non-war veterans.
He gives the example of people he says were ‘invited’ from the University of Rhodesia to form the core of Mugabe’s administration like Misheck Sibanda, Olivia Muchena and others.
Mutsvangwa argues that the only war veterans then (2012), which were part of the Mugabe administration’s inner circle, apart from Mujuru, were those who stood behind him during public addresses.
His bitterness, sense of entitlement and over inflated ego combine to give him some superiority complex whence he believes, because he participated in the war of liberation, he has a pass to distort that war’s history and create some legends about the war to minister to his own vanity and to show that his contribution in the war of liberation is unparalleled and that anyone whose contribution he does not know or approve did nothing as far as that war is concerned.
He comes across as a dangerous breed of Zanu PF politicians — those who are always looking back, fixated in celebrating victories scored in a 1970s war when the country has pressing challenges that need modern day politicians and technocrats who understand 21st century geopolitics, not some political dinosaurs who are rooted in celebrating past glories when citizens are crying for solutions to today’s problems.
While we celebrate the lives of our gallant sons and daughters, like we do the life of Nyamubaya, the most important lesson we draw from her is that each and every day calls for new heroes, those that are able to stand up to current challenges and that yester-year protagonists like Mutsvangwa can only become relevant today if they resist the temptation of over celebrating yesterday’s victories to the extent of thinking they brought heaven on earth to this country thus there is no need to move forward and adapt to the changing environment and new socio, political and economic realities.
It is important that we celebrate the life of Nyamubaya today, but let it be known to Mutsvangwa that any attempt at denigrating the role played by her colleagues in the liberation struggle, particularly the thousands of female fighters, using the occasion of her demise is the ultimate disrespect for the values for which she fought for and sacrificed her entire life to advance.
This country does not need delusional and shrill-tongued politicians like Mutsvangwa, it needs pragmatists like Nyamubaya, people who know that the fact they were relevant yesterday does not necessarily mean they are useful today and that to be useful today, they have to be relevant tomorrow.