War vets counsel counterparts

BULAWAYO - Zipra War Veterans Trust has initiated a programme of counselling counterparts who have been involved in political violence countrywide.

Trust chairperson Buster Magwizi told journalists in Bulawayo on Thursday that his organisation had initiated  this programme out of realisation that whenever politically-motivated violence erupts especially during election campaigns war veterans are accused of being the perpetrators.

“War veterans were trained not to harm, maim and harass communities but we were trained to
protect people. So what we are doing under this programme is that we approach those war veterans who are accused of being perpetrators of violence and counsel them,” Magwizi said.

He said the programme is currently underway in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces.

“So far, we have engaged war veterans who have Zipra background, whether there are now in Zanu PF, MDCs or Zapu. As long as they passed through Zipra hands during the liberation struggle we approach and counsel them under this programme,” he said.

Zipra was an armed wing of the late Joshua Nkomo-led Zapu during the liberation struggle.

Magwizi also said his organisation continued to receive cases of opposition parties’ supporters being harassed in the country’s rural areas three months after elections.

“The absence of violence does not mean there is peace. People are saddled today as we speak by structural and cultural violence all over the country; people are being intimidated day and night in most areas, so as liberators we have to stop this,” he said.

Since the year 2000 during the violent land grab, the country’s former independence war fighters have become a household name for the wrong reasons.

Independence war fighters have always been fingered in many cases of human rights abuses in every election campaigns from 2000 onwards that encompassed murder, rape, torture, destruction of property and internal displacement on perceived Zanu PF opponents.

The rejection of  Zanu PF government’s constitutional draft  proposals in February 2000 witnessed the involvement of war veterans in violent farm invasions and hostile take-overs under the auspices of the so-called “fast track land resettlement programme”.

This marked the beginning of the involvement of war veterans in the country’s economic processes.The late Joshua Nkomo led Zapu during the liberation struggle.

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