Is ZANU PF founded on fake liberation war credentials?

As the infighting within Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party deepens with each passing day - and the antagonistic factions continually questioning each other's liberation war credentials - one can not help but wonder whether the whole party's revolutionary history is even true.

Edgar Tekere

Edgar Tekere

Ever since the late 1980s, when ZANU PF’s then Secretary-General Edgar Twoboy Tekere fell out of favour with the party’s top brass, over his vicious opposition to their corruption and contravention of their so-called ‘Leadership Code’ – which was supposed to be a ‘communist’ code that kept them from amassing wealth for themselves – the party has had a habit of discrediting the ‘dissident’s’ liberation war credentials.

Tekere was accused of having not contributed much to the liberation struggle, to the point of even questioning his role in his and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s much famed crossing into Mozambique on foot, to take charge of the liberation struggle.

Tekere – who proceeded to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) – was accused of being a drunkard and a lunatic, who even failed to write minutes during the party’s politburo meetings.

His seniority within the party during the struggle was also questioned, as ZANU PF sought to minimise the influence he had during the war.

I remember, during those days, finding these accusations very strange, as I could not understand why – if he had been so incompetent – ZANU PF kept him on the job for such a long time, only to dismiss him when he had stood up against their corruption.

That was the first time I realised that, either ZANU PF shielded those close to it – even if they were corrupt, incompetent, and had dubious curriculum vitae – or the party was  fabricating its history, and as such, could just write and re-write a member’s history at will.

Fast forward the clock to the 1990s, when the party fell out of favour with Margaret Dongo – who then formed the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD).

Similarly, her liberation war credentials were questioned.

I remember meeting the then Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander Air Marshall Josiah Tungamirai, at a wedding party, who burst into a diatribe accusing Dongo of lying about her liberation war credentials, and that she was only useful to the male combatants for other things.

However, these ZANU PF theatrics have since risen to a new high, as these accusations have now become the norm.

When Joice Mujuru was elevated to the post of the party and government’s Vice President, her liberation war history was glorified to unprecedented levels, as she was touted to have downed a Rhodesian Air Force helicopter single-handedly.

However, as soon as her long relationship with the party came to an abrupt end – thereby, leading to her formation of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) – the nation was told that she never downed any copter.

Actually, her protagonists fell over each other in trying to trivialise her – and her fellow colleagues who had also fallen out with ZANU PF – contribution to the struggle.

Jabulani Sibanda, the then leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), was not spared either, as his credentials as a struggle veteran were also discredited – only after he had dared challenge the First Lady – yet he had been allowed to lead the association for years without any problems.

Last week, the nation was to hear more revelations, as the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Constantino Chiwenga made comments that were widely believed to have been targeted at Mandie Chimene – who is ‘leading’ a faction of war veterans –  insinuating that she never fought in the liberation struggle, yet she had been allowed to carry those credentials for decades.

I am very sure that this is just the beginning of all these shenanigans within ZANU PF, and that more high profile ‘revelations’ are to be expected, as this has become the party’s modus operandi.

Normally, I would not care much about ZANU PF’s internal circuses, but what we have here is a matter of national importance, because we need the true history of the country to be told.

We can never allow our children, and indeed ourselves, to be taught a fabricated version of the country’s history  – one that is manufactured at ZANU PF headquarters.

A country’s history is its guide to its future, as such, it needs to be accurate.

How are we, as a nation, to know who within ZANU PF is being touted as a liberation icon today, but only to be discredited tomorrow?

How are we to be sure that when Mugabe is gone, the new ZANU PF leadership will not suddenly tell us that his contribution to Zimbabwe’s independence was never what we were told?

Are we not going to be told all sorts of revelations – maybe on how he usurped power, or maybe on why he and Tekere were initially arrested by Mozambique’s liberation movement Frelimo, when they crossed the border to lead the ZANLA forces?

Such revelations are to be expected, as already it has being reported that Margaret Dongo, at a recent ZimPF rally, was casting doubt on Mugabe’s contribution to the liberation war effort.

Quite frankly, the country’s history as it is being taught today can not be trusted anymore.

There is need for the proper history to be written and taught, and that can only be done by an independent body of historians, and other stakeholders.

I believe, that ZANU PF can never be trusted to establish such a body.

Ideas can be placed out there on how that body might be constituted, as this is a matter of national importance that the country’s true history may finally be told.

Zimbabwe’s true history is out there, and just needs to be captured and recorded.

The same applies to the issue of declaring of the nation’s heroes.

A country’s hero can not be decided by a political party, no matter how much contribution that party made to the liberation of the country.

Mugabe once said that those who laid at the National Heroes Acre were only those who fought in the country’s liberation struggle – but as we have already asserted, these people’s histories can be written and rewritten at will.

So how can the nation trust ZANU PF to declare who is a liberation struggle hero or not?

Besides, whether ZANU PF acknowledges it or not, there was another party that participated in the liberation struggle – ZAPU – and should be involved in the making of such decisions.

ZANU PF can not hide behind the Unity Accord, because, quite frankly, that was torn apart once ZAPU’s Dumiso Dabengwa and others pulled out of this agreement, and as such, the liberation struggle ZAPU exists as a separate political entity.

Denying this fact is plainly disingenuous.

It is owed to this generation, and the generations to come, that Zimbabwe’s true history be told, as ZANU PF has clearly made a mockery of the nation’s legacy for political expediency.

I truly believe that ZANU PF has enjoyed undeserved power since 1980 – not only through fraudulent elections, intimidation, violence, and the abuse of state resources –  but also through deception and the peddling of a distorted history.

It is time that the people of Zimbabwe finally know where they truly come from, and who they are, in order for us to move forward in our quest for development and prosperity.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]com. Follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana

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