Monday, February 26, 2024

Zimbabwe’s war veterans already looking past Mugabe

In the middle of all that the people of Zimbabwe are going through and have gone through before, during and after independence, some Zimbabweans seek to misrepresent the cause and subsequent sad result of our failures as a nation; we failed to understand, to accept and to tolerate opposing views.

The fact that our nation of Zimbabwe has known only one president since independence in 1980 is testimony to our mistake, as a nation and as people, at the polls.

We failed to foresee the character of some of our leaders; we let ourselves down by trusting without faith and we are paying the price.

We blinded ourselves into the acceptance that since we believed in all of our leaders, our future would be assured since they were, supposedly, “working together for our own good”, that we would have the opportunity to make our leaders accept or allow us to shape our future.

Yes, the combined effort liberated the country and I do believe that Zimbabweans are thankful for that.

However, as Zimbabweans, it was a curiosity we should have questioned when our cadres from both political camps, men, women, boys and girls who had fought alongside each other in common purpose in the very brutal extremities of war to achieve the liberation of our country, contested the elections as separate entities.

It was a premonition that should have jerked our heads up in alarm.

Less than a year after gaining “independence”, Zimbabwe was faced with a rebellion whose epicenter was Entumbane, just outside Bulawayo.

Former comrades in arms were now at loggerheads with each other but the rebellion was quickly extinguished with the professional acumen of former white soldiers of the colonial regime.

But the seed of dissatisfaction had been sawn and, in 1983, it blossomed into the infamous Gukurahundi, a genocidal act that was fueled by Robert Mugabe’s insecurity and his fears of the indomitable Joshua Nkomo.

Thousands and thousands of people were killed by an army gone berserk at the behest of its masters.

Mugabe thinks nothing of it and the closest he came to acknowledging the massacres is when he called it “a moment of madness”.

Mugabe does not care or even fathom the madness that got into him and the depth of the carnage he caused.

His paranoia became his master and to this day, it still rules him.

We can never estimate accurately what this moment of madness did to our nation except to say whole generations were extinguished for no other reason than that, being in the Matabeleland region, the victims were suspected of being Joshua Nkomo’s supporters and Mugabe’s ego is fragile up to this day.

One of the most painful outcomes of this moment of madness was to set tribe against tribes.

There are some who say the so-called Shona people singled out the Ndebele people for extermination; there are others who are agitating for the secession of Matabeleland region from Zimbabwe.

They are all wrong in that the Gukurahundi was not a tribe against tribe confrontation. Karanga tribesmen did not go looking for Ndebele people and killing them ÔÇô neither did any tribe set out to kill anyone because of their tribal lineage.

Robert Mugabe did all this for himself. It is, therefore, not right to say there ever was tribal persecutions of other tribes in Zimbabwe.

There are others who are actually calling for a separate state to be created from part of Zimbabwe.

Such kind of thinking is far from being helpful.

In Robert Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe have a common enemy ÔÇô a man who has killed our people, discriminated against our people, deprived our children and the elderly, a man who hates every one of us Zimbabweans.

If we fail to defeat Mugabe, it does not mean we parcel out the country to individual tribes.

Our failure to defeat and remove Mugabe has caused us to turn against each other. Even our liberation war veterans are going against each other. Recently, war veterans from ZIPRA admonished “their counterparts in the ‘Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association’ for taking a stand in support of a particular candidate to succeed Mugabe.

Zimbabwe is bigger than any tribe and deserves the respect and protection of its citizens. Mugabe does not own Zimbabwe and he and his close associates from across tribal lines have benefitted from the ill-gotten monies made available to his friends and relatives.  

War veterans are and were of service to their country, not a political party. They should remain apolitical and concern themselves with the welfare of their members.

They, however, can dabble in politics like all other citizens but must ensure that the war veterans’ organisations remain outside politics because it really does not matter who rules Zimbabwe or which party wins elections, war veterans are everyone’s responsibility.

The only reason they get little respect and why they are reviled is that they demand recognition and respect which the only leader Zimbabwe has ever known has denied them.

We remember so well how they threatened our judges and lawyers.

We remember how they demanded and received millions of dollars and caused the collapse of our economy.

We remember how they killed our fellow citizens as they took over farms and properties that did not belong to them.

In a speech in which he threatened another Gukurahundi, Mugabe said: “The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans was formed to cater for the welfare of our veterans and not to champion the struggle for political change, not to be the boss of the party and never to be the bully of the party, nor the entity to make the choices on who should be and who should not lead.”

The old goat only said this because his war veteran stooges are looking past him and are already taking sides with possible Mugabe successors.


Read this week's paper