When we get to this time of the year, we are bombarded with stories of the heroes of the liberation war. The government and Zanu (PF) want to remind us of the sacrifice that those who took part in the war made for our freedom. Ordinarily, I would not have anything against this but now that the liberators have now turned into the oppressors I find myself less and less amenable to these documentaries and adverts. However, there is a danger that in our attempt to find a solution to the political and economic problems in our country we may just forget.
In the last few weeks, the focus has shifted from the violence to the talks that are taking place in South Africa. The victims of the Zanu (PF) violence risk being forgotten in our desire to get this country working again. Those who lost family members or those whose relatives were maimed and crippled risk being just cannon fodder if we do not put in place a system to keep this in the public domain.
I do not subscribe to the notion that whatever political agreement the MDC comes to with Robert Mugabe is selling out because I understand that compromise is the only way forward in our current situation. Some compromises are painful; that is why they are called compromises! However, there is one compromise that the people of Zimbabwe (MDC or otherwise) cannot afford to make.
We can never compromise with the thugs who killed and maimed people as well as burned people’s homes during the last five months. We need to find a way to allow the victims to tell their stories as well as to see their tormentors punished.
Most victims of the violence know their attackers, and in most places those who spearheaded the violent campaign are known.
The MDC should make it a priority that, as soon as normality returns to our politics and economics, we pursue those who allowed themselves to be used as dogs of war’. We cannot afford to forget what the soldiers, war veterans, youth militia and Zanu (PF) thugs did to the people for daring to determine their destiny.
If the current negotiating process is to fail on this principle then it is worth it. This year’s Heroes Day should be an opportunity for those of us in the New Zimbawe project to remember those whose lives have been forever changed by Zanu (PF) thugs. The victims of violence (men, women and children) should never be forgotten. They are the war veterans of the new liberation struggle – lest we forget!
NYENGETRAI GIDI, UK