I would like to ask the living war veterans that are in government the following questions
By Darlington Chiuta
They are a marvel around the world and those that have medals display them with pride and it does not really matter which war they fought because that particular war makes them who they are, war veterans you cannot be one without having fought a war.
I have a fair share of war experience but that does not make me a war veteran.
Let us agree that while everyone contributed to the war there is one thing that the war veterans did beyond everyone else – they carried the gun and went right in front of the barrel of the enemy which is no mean feat whether by volunteering or coercion.
At independence I was not an old person but I was not a baby either and had the blessing of being surrounded by ex-combatants who became ZNA, dzakutsaku, mujibha, and chimbwido all siblings not to mention povho.
Fast forward 2018 I am helping my friend who is migrating to America and his aunt (sister to his father) has also visited to say goodbyes. My friend warns me not to be critical of the new president or the Second Republic but these issues somehow come up and they did.
The old lady cries, a lot, then keeps quiet and narrates her story, the war story from a different angle that I never had heard, a story from a woman in combat.
The story is not for the faint-hearted and I will paraphrase. For critics this is not fiction for I can supply names if need be. Still with tears on her cheeks but calm.
Her story goes, she was 16 when they were taken from school by comrades and whisked to Mozambique.
She had no regrets as she knew and understood what she was fighting for. There is however a dark side for the woman in combat that is never told and was and is still taken to be a normal part of the war. She stops to sob but determined to make us understand what war to a woman combatant really meant.
Listening to one of Apostle Chiwenga’s sermons where he castigates female war veterans like Oppah Muchinguri (irrespective of her misgivings post-war) sank my heart.
“We were raped by fellow combatants, I lost count and took it to be part of the life and duty. How would you say no to a horny man with a gun in his hand?” she asks with a wry on her face.
So, it was just a get done and we continue with the business of the war.”
She never referred to the male counterparts as rapists but comrades so I will also not be tempted to do so.
Unfortunately, on the eve of freedom something which remains a stark reminder of that period and experiences happened, she became pregnant, obviously she does not know who the father is and to make matters worse that child, her only child, is mentally disabled.
She stops there on herself, and gets back to tears, then speaks of a colleague who was at that time (2018) sick. I have not followed up on whether the colleague is till with us. Who was gravely ill languishing alone on her farm with no help as she never had a child or her children had died I can’t remember that part well.
Muhondo taibatsirana nokusimudzana but ikozvino unongofa woga.
She then laments the state of comrades, neglected some or most have a piece of land on which they are wallowing in poverty and facing the gloomy end of their lives.
She ends by assuring us that the new president is a listening president and expresses hope that the second republic would not forget the war veterans. She was fortunate to complete her education after the war, worked in government, retired and has land but she is old.
She would have loved to hand over the farm to the next generation but, “muzukuru wenyu murwere wepfungwa, pose pandinomutarisa ndinonzwa pfuti kurira mumusoro mangu.”she ends her story and no-one says a word for a few minutes. “Now it is in your hands what you will do with the freedom.”
All who were hearing the story for the first time including me shed a tear and I had a new definition of patriotism and heroism. It has taken me three years to be able to narrate the story.
Checking if the baton was really in our hands, I realised the country has been, is and will be still in the hands of war veterans till 2030 as per ED declaration – “2030 ndinenge ndichipo”.
They did a sterling job and brought independence at which I was still young but out of baby world and remember revolutionary songs like “Simudzai Mureza varume” which I find myself often singing when I miss home. I would like to ask the living war veterans that are in government the following questions to ascertain their meaning to Zimbabwe today.
Is the Zimbabwe you are sitting on the Zimbabwe you fought for? Are you aware there are comrades wallowing in poverty while you parade luxury and hold on to power only for the sake of building your children’s nests?
Are you conscious to the fact that your fellow comrades left children that did not have the same privilege of learning overseas like yours? After educating your children what makes you feel that the next generation is not capable and you want to die on the throne?
When you look at the next generation what makes you feel that you are looking at enemies whose future you have to live to destroy? At which point do you handover the reigns? When will you become advisors? Did you liberate to oppress?
I will conclude this session by painting the picture of who a war veteran is in terms of today’s world.
Let us say some were very young, taking into consideration that we had no child soldiers in the Zimbabwean war, the youngest could have been twenty at independence, they would be sixty plus.
Are they the guys that are said to be threatening everyone with war? Even collaborators are beyond 56 by now.
The war veterans are today used as a tool to deny democracy a chance with threats attributed to them shocking.
Are war veterans devoid of reason, when will they enjoy their pension because most of them are in pensionable age? And lastly, are war veterans for ZANU PF or for the state? Are war veterans guns for hire?
Darlington Chiuta is chairperson of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit Holders Association and he writes in his personal capacity. Contact him at 071 371 1756. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the Editorial Policy of Zimbabwe Digital Express.
Facebook: Zimbabwe Digital News
Zimbabwe Digital News