Let's embrace persecuted war vets

HARARE - While war veterans have in the past committed despicable abuses in the process of defending President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, political and social commentators feel those being persecuted now for challenging the regime should be given moral support.

The commentators felt the arrested war veterans that include Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, vice chairman, Headman Moyo and Harare executive member Wane Bhila need solidarity from all Zimbabweans.

Political commentator Elliot Pfebve said Zimbabweans must realise that in politics and indeed in socio-political settings, there are no permanent enemies, as such if war veterans have finally seen the light.

“We must embrace them, at this difficult juncture in Zimbabwe’s history, we need every soul, every molecule of energy and every strategy that works or that has a potential to work.

“We therefore should welcome the combative stand by war veterans and exercise solidarity with their plight which is synonymous with suffering Zimbabweans,” said Pfebve.

He added that as a politician, “I fight for every Zimbabwean, unfortunately including the very Zanu PF die-hard who needs salvation. War veterans are welcome to the real world of the Zanu PF monster.”

Journalist Reyhana Masters said many people have been speaking truth to power for a long time.

“Over the years, people close to the establishment have fallen out of favour and they have come to lend their voice to the issues we have been speaking out against.

“Now, as we enter a phase where citizens from various sections of society are giving voice to their discontent, we are being joined by people from unexpected quarters. Some of these voices include the very people who propped up the State and brutally fought against us.”

She said the issue is how to respond now that they are joining our ranks and being punished in the same way we have been.

“Do we turn away and say; ‘good for you, now you know what we have been and are going through?’ My response is that we show who we are by standing true to our convictions.

“We don’t abandon our principles because our adversaries have now become our allies. We have been fighting against the abuses of power and for justice and we continue doing that.

“As sections of the war veterans come to stand with us in voicing their grievances, let us treat them with our manners and not theirs. In that way, they will come to see who we are and who we have been all along. Citizens with courage and strong convictions who have always spoken truth to power,” said Masters.

Media practitioner Tabani Moyo said the war veterans belong to Zimbabwe and they played an active role in liberating this country from colonialism.

“All these years, Zanu PF kept them captive through cronyism and other trappings but the fact remains that they are a critical part of the national question.

“Now that they have managed to disentangle themselves from the regime, it is critical that there is strong solidarity so that the people of Zimbabwe can continuously erode the centre.”

Moyo said the progressive movement has been fragmented through patronage by the ruling party and the war veterans have been victims of this enticement hence the need to support them so that they don’t fall back into the system.

“That the ruling party is facing contradictions is neither here nor there hence the need to build solidarity and support. It is even good that progressive institutions like the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are representing them so that they also play an active part in weakening the regime,” said Moyo.

Human rights activist Dewa Mavhinga said it is true that some war veterans committed despicable abuses in the process of defending Mugabe, particularly during the farm invasions from 2000.

“But when they become victims of the same Mugabe, it is important to offer them solidarity. Standing on principle means condemning state persecution and oppression regardless of who the victim is.

“What is wrong is wrong no matter it targets those in the opposition or former allies of Mugabe. We must never promote or propagate polarised views that violence and abuse aimed at perceived Mugabe allies like war vets must be celebrated.”

Social commentator Stephen Tsoroti said naturally, humans respond involuntarily to situations.

“In this case, Zimbabweans have shown that they are still humans, despite acts of crime perpetrated against them by the same war veterans. It must be remembered that not all war veterans were part and parcel of those committing ill against their kith and kin.

“Let us remember also that in a struggle, any form of brutal force, acts, injustice, terror should be condemned by all right-thinking people.”

Playwright Silvanos Mudzvova said: “Kusvinura  kwembwanana kunosiyana. ( Teething doesn’t happen at the same time) Some saw the signs long back and war vets are now seeing it. You cannot blame them for being late in seeing the misrule of Mugabe.

“Most Zimbabweans saw it a few months ago but we said it’s good for this country. Solidarity should be given to them for speaking against the dictator. Even if donkeys join in calling for Mugabe I will join them.

“The war vets have seen the light and they should spread that light to traditional chiefs and village heads. Together, we can win the war against Mugabe but divided we will never win. So I welcome war vets with open hands!”

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said it is never too late for the war veterans, “as long as light has struck someone on their way to Damascus. The nation should be dissuaded from lambasting anyone in their Damascene moment. They should be lauded for finally seeing the light.”

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said the war veterans did well in liberating our country.

“But I have a challenge for them in that they should own up to the recent communique which they wrote and not to sacrifice only their leaders.

“We need the war veterans, all of them to stand up and say ‘yes, this is our communiqué’. If Mugabe has to arrest all of them, then let it be.

“We do not want cowards — these war veterans should come out in the open and not hide behind their leaders,” said Machisa.

He added that as civil society they always come out in the open if they have to issue any statement and “We own it. We call for a press conference and openly announce our intentions.”

Machisa said the war veterans are an important institution; hence Mugabe should not divide them.

“He (Mugabe) had dialogue with the rest of the war veterans not agreeing with him and that way we can move forward. Not only should he bring to the table the war veterans but the churches, civil society, business and opposition political parties — I mean there is urgent need for a national indaba that can collectively we find ways to get out of the mess we are in today.”

Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika said while it is true that war vets have perpetrated some of the egregious human rights violations against Mugabe’s opponents in recent history this is not a matter for forgiveness or not.

“It is a matter for the law and in a Zimbabwe with transitional justice; accounting should take place, followed by either forgiveness or prosecution.”

Lewanika said war veterans fought for our liberation and for that they deserve our respect and honour.

“Breaking rank with Mugabe and being victimised for it warrants the people of Zimbabwe’s support and solidarity for firstly recanting, repenting and choosing to break with evil.

“Secondly, because acts of misrule and injustice even perpetrated against those unlike you should not be tolerated — human rights are universal and cover everyone — not just some and not just those who profess to be victims or saints.”

Lewanika added that the more people fighting in away from Mugabe’s corner, “the better are the chances of succeeding at removing his failing yet brutal regime.”

Activist Farai Maguwu said it is a pity that war veterans are now social outcasts.

“But if one were to analyse why war veterans did what they did (violence), which benefitted from their atrocities, who funded them, why government never did anything to integrate them back into society after war you will come to the conclusion that they too are victims of a system that thrives on using people and dumping them thereafter.”

Maguwu added that war vets were never given a chance because from the liberation struggle they were spewed out of Zanu PF until the late Chenjerai Hunzvi’s uprising of 1997.

“Mugabe only gave them the money because his grip on power was threatened, not that he respected their contribution during  to the liberation struggle.

“Giving them the Z$50 000 was itself an irresponsible act given that most of them were suffering from mental disorder. No wonder one of them hired a bus to take him to his rural area, others bought beer for everyone in the pub and still others hired metered taxis to go to their rural homes while another bought sunglasses for his dog,” said Maguwu.

He added that more needed to be done to help war veterans manage their lives before throwing money at them.

“Zimbabweans must appreciate the socio-psycho effects of war.

“Most of their anti-social behaviour is a hangover from the war where they escaped death narrowly apart from seeing people dying.

“Instead of hating them we must come up with a national plan of how to integrate them into society,” said the mining activist.

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu said while war veterans were once the storm troopers of Zanu PF it appears they are on the other side now and testing their own medicine.

“Crimes committed must be prosecuted be it by war vets or not and if war vets are being persecuted then they deserve support and solidarity.”

Comments (4)

But first, they must withdraw their threat that if Mnangagwa does not succeed Mugabe, there will be bloodshed. A similar threat was issued by Zanla in 1980 that if Zanu (PF) did not win the elections then, they would go back to the bush. See where we are today. They must withdraw their threat.

Clear - 4 August 2016

Zvine manenji Gudo kuwa mumuti.

John Chigaramatundu - 4 August 2016

Warriors should take clear positions unlike some of these cowards disowning their own

Wekunyombwe - 5 August 2016

Prosecute them instead, dig up their dirty especially participation in 5B.

Dlodlo - 5 August 2016

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