War veterans boycott Heroes Day celebrations

HARARE - The stunning fallout between war veterans and President Robert Mugabe is escalating, with many liberation struggle stalwarts doubtful about attending the official Heroes and Defence Forces celebrations in Harare tomorrow and on Tuesday respectively.

Many prominent war veterans who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said while they would always hold the two days dearly in their hearts, they were not planning on attending this year’s official commemorations in Harare — and would rather remember their comrades who lost their lives during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle quietly at home.

“It is no longer a day for us to celebrate because there is nothing to celebrate anymore. Hapana arikuenda kuHeroes Acre. Vachatoita vekugadzira mawar veterans acho (War veterans are not going to Heroes Acre this year),” a bitter spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, said.

“Now they have their puppet organisation of war veterans led by (Manicaland Provincial minister) Mandi Chimene. It is funny that if a government disagrees with an organisation it chooses to go to the membership even if the membership prefers to make its own choices,” he added.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya says "there is nothing to celebrate anymore".

“These two days will always have lots of meaning for us. However, no one can pretend anymore that all is well in Zimbabwe and Zanu PF. Most comrades now understand that the party (Zanu PF) has been hijacked by people who don’t understand the meaning of sacrifice for the greater good.

“It therefore does not make sense to go there and mingle with people who are effectively doing everything in their power to rubbish the immense contribution of war veterans to Zimbabwe’s freedom and who are also destroying the legacy of the liberation struggle itself for their narrow interests,” another war veteran leader said.

The disaffected former freedom fighters also noted that thousands of ex-combatants were living in abject poverty around the country, accusing Mugabe and the Zanu PF government of “choosing to neglect these gallant men and women” and reneging on the promises that were made to war veterans during the liberation struggle.

Former Zanu PF spokesperson and now Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) elder, Rugare Gumbo — also one of only two surviving members of Zanu’s Dare ReChimurenga (war council) that directed the liberation struggle — also told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that even though Mugabe had “hijacked” the days, he and others who participated in the independence war would still remember the days, albeit far from “his sloganeering”.

“As war veterans, as people who fought in the liberation struggle and as people who know people who died for this country, we have no alternative but to respect the two days even though they are being abused by the powers that be.

“We believe that these people did not die in vain and that is why we say ‘aluta continua’ until there is justice, freedom, peace, unity and so on. We are saddened with the way this old man (Mugabe) has behaved in the past months, particularly the decimation of war veterans and their arbitrary arrests.

“We don’t think that all this is different from what Ian Smith did. It is very sad that people who fought for this country are being humiliated day in day out. I would have loved to attend both Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day, but what is the point of me attending these shams,” Gumbo said.

Mugabe’s stunning fallout with war veterans a fortnight ago occurred despite the fact that the former freedom fighters have been Mugabe and Zanu PF’s strongest pillars of support over the past five decades, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian in power in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.

Speaking in Harare late last month during his hastily-convened meeting with a section of war veterans, Mugabe said the former freedom fighters who had denounced him were no longer part of Zanu PF and would be punished severely.

The nonagenarian told the same gathering that the primitive and extra-judicial suppression methods that Zanu PF incorporated during the liberation struggle in the 1970s — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman underground dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats — would be used against the vets.

This was after the war veterans’ executive issued a damning communiqué in which they served divorce papers on the Zanu PF leader whom they said was now “a hard sell” for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Subsequently, authorities launched a brutal crackdown against the war veterans, resulting in the arrest of a number of their leaders, in an operation that has been widely condemned by human rights and pro-democracy groups both in Zimbabwe and outside the country.

Bernard Manyadza, whose war-time nom de guerre was Parker Chipoyera, said Mugabe had “bastardised” Heroes Day.

“I respect the day so much even though the revolution was hijacked from as early as 1977 when the secretary-general was given two posts, that of secretary and that of being president.

“That is when it metamorphosed into a one-centre of power creature.

“I will remember the day at home but cannot go there (to Heroes Acre) for empty sloganeering. The event has been bastardised. I will not go there and be lied to by politicians who know nothing about the liberation struggle,” Manyadza told the Daily News On Sunday.

Chipoyera and Gumbo were among the dozens of liberation struggle stalwarts who were kept in the dirty dungeons by Mugabe for disagreeing with him allegedly when he assumed the leadership of Zanu PF in Mozambique in the late 1970s.

On his part, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, who left the deeply-divided ruling party in 2008, said 36 years after independence, it saddened him that many who lost their limbs and sacrificed so much for the country were living in squalor while a few bigwigs were enjoying the rich pickings of high office.

“The day remains significant to every one of us in the country because it is the day that brings us to remember all the comrades who passed on during the war, which includes people who were in detention,” said the man who was nicknamed the Black Russian.

“Heroes Day reminds us of those who sacrificed for the country, when we remember those unknown heroes who have not been recognised by the system.

“Some of us we will attend the commemorations in solidarity with the relatives of those who lie in our heroes’ acres and we will also be visiting those people that we remember who are worse off than us and who have not been able to make it in life,” added the revered and softly-spoken Dabengwa.

Respected Zanu PF elder and former Cabinet minister, Cephas Msipa, was among those who bemoaned the ugly factional and succession wars that are devouring Zanu PF, and the paralytic effect this has had on former freedom fighters.

“Heroes Day is special and also national. It affects me because I know the people who are buried at the various heroes’ acres in the country, including my wife who was declared a liberation heroine and some we do not know and where they are buried.

“All these people died because they wanted this country to be free. They were prepared to suffer. They wanted to be free and we are free today because of the sacrifices and suffering they went through. We should always remember this special day as it is a time to reflect on the past, the present and the future,” he said.

Comments (24)

Boycotting Heroes celebrations after being dumped from the gravy train will not impress any Zimbabwean who has open eyes. Instead it only helps to cement their narrow-mindedness and selfishness in the eyes of many. if they were no hypocrites the day one man shouted at Mugabe at Heroes Acre that: " Magamba auri kutaura akafira mahara" is the day they should have started their protests. That man is the only one man who honestly protested on behalf of our heroes most of whose bodies were never recovered.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 8 August 2016

There is a time for every purpose under the sun. We all know Zimbabweans, war veterans included have been complaining in hushed tones of the regimes intolerancy, poor economic policies, wasteful foreign trips, land misuse, tenders for friends and in laws...but any such utterances would have been dealt with by a heavy and cruel hand. The season has changed and we all have a part to play. All are welcome Jabulani , Mutsvangwa etc. We march forward together as we seek the removal of a common obstacle only after removing the Mugabe regime can we afford to be split, to be fragmented in pursuit of our narrower party or personal agendas. Stronger together..

Viva Unidade - 8 August 2016

this paper will praise any anti-zanupf nonsense

Gagai - 8 August 2016

Indeed zanu pf is putrified. Am 100% happy to see and read the falls of those who think they are great than the Mighty.

abongile - 8 August 2016

Indeed zanu pf is putrified. Am 100% happy to see and read the falls of those who think they are great than the Mighty.

abongile - 8 August 2016

Clearly we must take a closer look. ZanuPF is merely carrying the baggage of Robert Mugabe the man who respects noone, who listens to noone. The man who is willing to drag Zimbabwe to his grave. ZANU pf is his trading name, that is all.

Tekere - 8 August 2016

as things stand the sacrifice was all for nothing...

makanyara - 8 August 2016

Pamberi nekugara kumba pa Heroes Noliday. Don't support these bastards with your presence at ANY function that they might have...

TruthSaid - 8 August 2016

the celebrations were a succes,it is first class buffoonery by mahiya to dream that his presence blesses our celebrations and it is equally idiotic for the @dailynews to give this man any space

truth - 8 August 2016

Its unfortunate Dailynews is behind on developments.Gen Chiwenga has given a stern warning to G40.yes ,the man has intevened.I salute the General.Gen Tongo is now smiling. Gen Masuku is smiling.Even Gen Peter Walls is nodding in agreement.I salute yu Gen Chiwenga.Thank yu sir.

viola gwena - 8 August 2016

A weak leader is a danger to his family,his nation.A weak leader runs away from his commanders.This is the right time to take the struggle forward,away from coward leadership.For the people.

viola gwena - 8 August 2016

A couragious leader accepts his misdeeds n humbles away.Courage is never taught.Its not pretenciouse.It s humility.Its not stubborn.

viola gwena - 8 August 2016

We need change in Zimbabwe

mike - 9 August 2016

Refusal to think; and inability to think strategically is surely our biggest let down in Zim, coupled by individualistic, selfish and bigotry traits that helped Mugabe develop a blatantly patronage system for rewarding evil. Our new liberation in Zim will be underpinned by new focus of strategic thinking, developing a self that values what benefits the nation and refusal to parrot the interests of evil-men and women. Whether ZimPF (of Mujuru), Lacoste (of Mnangagwa), G40 (of Mugabe) or War Vets (of Mutsvangwa); dont represent the aspirations of a new Zimbabwe full of love, life and freedom. These goons are selfish, successionists whose interest is power, privilege and plunder. May God restore our dignity.

Save - 9 August 2016

I hear you Zimbabweans but our mission is to remove the diabolical dictatorship mismanaging our economy our lives, our children's future. We can fight all we want but only after removing Mugabe from power, please. Let us all unite. That is the only way we can take the country forward.

Viva Unidade - 9 August 2016

@viola may you please tell me more about Gen Masuku

safa ngendlala - 10 August 2016

Gen Masuku was the most trained soldier in ,most knowledgeable in army affairs in SADC, South Afriac included.Gen Masuku was second only to Gen Tongo, in Zanla,Zipra,Mk,Frelimo.He was a soldier, above politics,above tribal inclinations.Most present day generals were Lookout s students,including gen mujuru,gen chris hani.Thats what I know about this man,son of Zimbabwe.

viola gwena - 10 August 2016

The reasn why many top army posts ie colonels who are mostly from zipra was bcoz of Gen Masuku s talents.Zipra was more strategic in its assalts on Rhodesia.They showed better organisational intelligence,than all sadc freedom fighters.The man deseves to be reburied at Heroes acre and a seriouse apology to his family.If cdes chitepo culd be exhumed n buried at the shrine,why not gen masuku.Errors were made on him,bury them and accord the man respect.It will e sad to see the likes of Johnathan going to the shrine while gen masuku is out of the place,away from his comrades like gen mujuru.

viola gwena - 10 August 2016

Truth iNgochani yaBob.makanyepera Sodhindo tichamuuyisa po paHeroes acre naTekere naAmos Midzi ....cry my beloved country

Justice - 10 August 2016

Truth iNgochani yaBob.makanyepera Sodhindo tichamuuyisa po paHeroes acre naTekere naAmos Midzi ....cry my beloved country

Justice - 10 August 2016

ma war vets ave nemaziso mgaaronge organisation yawo akabatana kusabatana ndiko kunoita kuti zvishaye basa coz adzingwa anoenda kwake ega asi zanu ichisara iri bato and as long as we speak as individuals we ar likely to be defeated by parties chinongorwadza ndechokuti munotsinura madzingwa

masvingo - 10 August 2016

to be frank in politics there is no friendship but there is people of common intrest so i urge those who rilly want change to unite and join forces to initiate change...i always say be the change that you want to see ..Aluta continua but rushness is not courage THINK ,VISUALISE AND ACT ALL WE WANT IS A BETTER ZIMBABWE.

Zungu Tatenda - 11 August 2016

Tekere saw the infiltration of political parties by the agents of white supremacy, including ZANU PF and gave the warning but of course the people pretended to know better, just like today. #Rhodes must go!!

ADF - 11 August 2016

Mr. Msipa needs to be reminded that we are NOT free!

Yeoman Thomas - 14 August 2016

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