Spare us the croc tears, Comrades

Sometimes, when the so-called war veterans speak, you are forced to agree with some of the things they say. The main problem, though, is that they are wrong carriers of the right messages. They are too compromised to be talking clean.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

In logic, the science of reasoning, there is a phenomenon philosophers call “argumentum ad hominem”, which essentially means that it is fallacious to reject an argument on the basis of who is making it. The problem with this concept, though, is that it would let a lot of people, especially in Zimbabwe, get away with gruesome murder. And these include our self-appointed but extremely jumpy mass of war veterans.

Recently, Jabulani Sibanda, purportedly speaking on behalf of veterans of the anti-colonial war that ended in 1979, came out guns blazing over the admittedly obscene and patently criminal salaries and perks heads of State linked enterprises have been giving themselves.

Counter-revolutionary

He urged government to immediately bring the culprits to book, or else the “people” would take the law into their hands and effect citizens’ arrests. He also lobbied for the investigation of cabinet ministers who presided over the respective offending parastatal heads and accused some of them of creating policies that allowed them to unjustly benefit from the rot at the state enterprises, and described some of the perks these guys have been helping themselves to as counter-revolutionary.

Sibanda is right when he says these things, of course. Not that I am optimistic about the political will of the current government or previous ones when it comes to dealing with issues such as the recent Salarygate, but there is need for action to be taken, and taken yesterday. We can’t afford to fold our hands and let the malignance subsist.

The young Zanu PF) military commissar is also correct for noting that our government officials are complicit in crafting regulations and policies that enable them to benefit from the gravy train ride, and I admire him for his plucky spirit when he agitates for civil unrest against corrupt officials. However, when a Swastika spotting zealot, with Semitic blood dripping from his fingers, starts talking love for Jews, that is my time to head for the synagogue for a long and fervent prayer.

The rich are quiet

I am not sure which war veterans Sibanda is representing, though, but I suspect he is playing messenger for a section of poor ex-combatants.

The rich ones are quiet all the time, because there is nothing to complain about. Happison Muchechetere, whom I understand was senior to the current defence forces commander, Constantine Chiwenga, during the liberation war, has already told us he does not care a hoot. He is the fat cat, by the way, who was taking home about $40,000 when hundreds of ZBC workers were going for months without salaries. So, Sibanda cannot be talking on Happison’s behalf.

Top management in the military and security sector is stuffed with even fatter cats who are not talking because they are rich and are merry passengers on the gravy train. They are driven around in the latest models, dine high, and have big farms. They take home allowances that would make the CEO of Microsoft turn green with envy and blue with anger.

Not rich enough

My point here is, these war veterans are talking because they are not yet rich, or rich enough. They are jealous of their counterparts who enjoy first class on the gravy steamer. Once they get the chance to get the obscene salaries and perks or such, they will zip up, just like their counterparts.

The self-anointed war vets are being dishonest. When they pressured the government to award them immorally hefty gratuities in 1997, they didn’t see any obscenity in it, did they? Well, they should have, because their demands contributed in a large measure to the collapse of the economy. To make matters worse, the ex-fighters were very quick to the cookie jar, looting the War Victims Compensation Fund by mainly exaggerating their injuries during the armed struggle. We are still smarting from the consequences of their demands and shenanigans, thus they must be the last ones to talk about offending payoffs and perks.

Sibanda et al need to be reminded of the farm lootings during the fast track land redistribution programme. They grabbed the prime land and gave the hapless peasants the drop downs. They took the farm houses and condemned the poor smallholder farmers to sandy and rocky plots. I don’t see any difference between what they did and what the greedy parastatal heads are doing now. The common denominator in the two genres of looting is the tendency to put the majority poor on the sidelines while you sup from the high table.

Well fed

Joseph Chinotimba, a lieutenant of Sibanda, whom I noticed to be uncharacteristically well fed and fattish when he came to the Quill Club last week, is one good annotation of how to get rich unethically.

While he was commanding the farm grabs back then, he was cleverer than his comrades by extending his forays to private companies from which he extorted large sums of money.

For the record, he had used up his gratuity by that time and was a sorry looking guard at the Harare municipality. I would challenge him to show me where he got his wealth from and to buy that Cherokee when the model turned heads then. Farming? Arrrgh!

These poor self-appointed war vets keep on making all sorts of demands that I view as extortionist. They are always asking for more farms, bigger allowances and preferential treatment, as if they are the only ones who brought independence to the country and signed contracts before going to war. I will start listening to them when they take a closer look at themselves and admit that they are as black as the pot. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis
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