Pitfalls of generation that fought the war

HARARE - As Zimbabweans this month join the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Democracy, analysts contend that an honest introspection by those in the corridors of power would be a good measure of their sincerity to the ideals for which gallant Zimbabweans fought the oppressive colonial regime.

Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini said as we celebrate this day with the rest of the world, Zimbabweans are daring the government of the day to compare its rule with the colonial regime our liberators fought against.

“Of the things that those young men and women crossed the border to fight for leaving their youth and families, how many can be celebrated by the youth of today?” asked Chimhini.

He said internationally-accepted democratic values include participatory citizenship, pluralism and inclusion.

“Of these, where do we stand as a country? Does government believe citizens have their trust and do citizens trust State institutions?”

Chimhini said those in power must understand that resilient democracy is an aspiration for all Zimbabweans and until it is achieved, people will find expression in whatever form.

“They experienced it in their youth. They understood it when they fought Ian Smith and his colonial system. There is no option to the respect of human rights, justice, non-discrimination and political tolerance in the democratic order being aspired to world order.”

Chimhini added that to resist these would be unsustainable. “To fight these would be perpetuating obsessive denial while to ignore these would be unsustainable.”

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said it was indeed a very brave and patriotic decision that was taken by thousands of young men and women to cross the border into Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana in order to join the armed struggle in the 1960s and 1970s.

“It is, of course, worthwhile and necessary that we salute these gallant sons and daughters of the soil on the International Day of Democracy.

“It is because of the selfless sacrifice of these patriots that Zimbabwe gained independence from British colonial rule on April 18, 1980.

“The youth of today should emulate the selflessness, dedication and patriotism of these warriors. More importantly, the youth of today should shun alcoholism, hooliganism, drug abuse, promiscuity and corruption.’’

Political commentator Maxwell Saungweme said: “As a nation we do remember the then young women and men who crossed borders to fight against colonisers. We are grateful to them for delivering us from the grip of the colonial regime. We respect and honour these gallant fighters for their selflessness and love for Zimbabwe.

“But we can’t forget that some of them, and not all, have become as oppressive as the colonial regime they fought. We can’t be blind to the fact that some of them are now so corrupt, wracked the economy and stole the future from our next generations.”

He added that those responsible for this have reversed the democracy we should be enjoying after their efforts to remove an oppressive regime. “They have turned from freedom fighters to oppressors; from fighting for democracy to dictators. We must condemn this in strongest of terms.”

Political commentator George Makoni said generally our brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives during the struggle are not getting due recognition because of the politicisation of such memorialisation.

“The youths are now exposed to many media channels as opposed to the 1980s and as such they are finding other people who are their heroes/heroines through exposure to other global icons, hence less appreciation to their own great people,” said Makoni.

He added that Zanu PF has successfully personalised such events as one of many strategies to maintain its hegemony. “This has resulted in others who do not believe in the ruling party ignoring issues to do with remembering our brothers and sisters who made sacrifices during the liberation struggle.

“Furthermore, Zanu PF generally has the monopoly to write and re-write history, in many cases it’s biased towards their agenda, for instance if one crosses their path he/she ceases to be a hero/heroine.”

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