BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZIMBABWE People’s Revolutionary Army (Zpra) ex-combatants have re-ignited demands for their war records that were seized by the government in the early 1980’s from the National Archives in Harare.
Government seized properties and records belonging to Zpra, a former military wing of Zapu during the liberation struggle, after accusing the opposition party and its ex-combatants of plotting to unseat then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government.
Among the seized records and materials were audio cassettes with original recordings of Zapu war songs.
Zpra Veterans Association spokesperson Baster Magwizi told journalists in Bulawayo on Wednesday that the military records documented their role during the war.
“We are appealing to the government to release all Zpra military records including war combat diaries,” Magwizi said.
“All the Zpra military records which were in the Salisbury Herald were removed from the National Archives and dumped at a basement. The government should bring all Zpra’s war history into the public domain.”
Magwizi said the government’s refusal to release Zpra’s war records had resulted in several distortions in the country’s liberation war history.
Zpra and Zapu are critical of the country’s liberation war narrative, arguing it only extols Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla) contributions while belittling theirs.
Zanla was the armed wing of Zanu, now Zanu PF.
Magwizi cited the famous bombing of the Rhodesia fuel tanks in 1978 which he said was executed by Zpra cadres, but now highly attributed to Zanla cadres in some quarters.
“The bombing of Salisbury tanks is a contentious issue. The bombing of the Salisbury fuel tanks was one of Zpra’s trophies. Zpra cadres must be respected for hitting the fuel reservoirs,” said Magwizi.
According to Zapu and Zpra, the distortions have led to failure by the government to recognise a number of its unsung heroes, some of whom were buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
A number of late Zapu veterans such as Vice-President Joseph Msika used to question the way Zipra’s history was documented. He died in 2009 without leaving any written account despite promises to correct the distorted history.
An organization linked to Zapu, Mafela Trust, at one time tried to document Zipra’s history but the project hit a snag