A letter to our war veterans

If there is any time that requires that same spirit that drove you into to the bush it is now.

Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe

I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that those of you who are genuine war veterans went through in order to fight for our freedom. I cannot imagine the sacrifice you made when some of you left all you had to join the liberation struggle – with no promise that you would survive. As Dzinanshe Machingura put it, your choice was to die fighting for your freedom rather than living under a colonial system that oppressed us all. I respect you for that.

I sat with my cousin the other day, who told me of the horrid conditions that our liberation fighters had to endure. They would dig graves first thing each day, in anticipation of impending death. He told me how food was scarce and how they survived on wild fruit and berries. He explained how they were never properly equipped to fight the war and treasured the few bullets they carried. How they had to sleep in caves or in the bush when it was raining. It must have been a terrible experience that none of us who now take our freedom for granted can ever imagine.

For that I must honour your sacrifice and contribution. The sad reality is that the fruits of the sacrifices you made are hardly evident today because a few men have usurped the struggle as theirs alone. They have even used you and continue to do so.

In other countries war veterans are all heroes, there is no distinction on which political party you fought under. They are honoured each year in their totality. Today most of you who genuinely believed in a new Zimbabwe live in poverty and are forgotten. That is scandalous.

The Zimbabwe we want is not yet here. We can never accept this system that has been created mostly by those who were living in comfort while directing the liberation struggle from African capital cities. We cannot allow those who were overseas studying to be the heroes while most of you who suffered each and every day at the battle front and faced unimaginable danger, rot in poverty and destitution.

Zanu (PF) has dismally failed to create the Zimbabwe you all imagined and I continue to wonder when you will realise the great lie; the lie that only a few are heroes and that only a few are entitled to the benefits of our so called freedom.

We will only be free when we create a democratic society where each and every Zimbabwean can live up to their full potential. Where politicians do not control us or interfere in shaping the future we want.

It is shameful and embarrassing what our country has become and I ask you: are you going to accept this? You never accepted that a white man was better than you and therefore entitled to better life conditions, why should you accept that black men must dominate and oppress you? The black man has proven that he is worse than the whites you fought. He has become greedy and corrupt and cares nothing for you.

My dear brothers and sisters, I know there are some who go around claiming to be war veterans, but we all know that they are fake. Why have you allowed your contribution to be soiled by a few misguided characters? Being called a war veteran is surely an honour that cannot be claimed by those who hardly contributed.

I feel pity for you and wish you would take the responsibility to make things right. The objectives of the liberation struggle were to create a country that does not oppress any man or woman; a country where all are equal under the law and entitled to benefit from the resources of this country. If we look at all sectors of this economy, none of you are benefiting. In fact, it is as if you do not exist and yet you sit and accept this.

In the Zimbabwe we shall create, we will continually honour you and those who perished in Nyadzonya and Chimoio; those are our true heroes. We will ensure that you are looked after by the rest of us for the sacrifice you made and that you lead a decent quality of life, we owe it to all of you.

Zimbabwe belongs to all of us. It does not belong to an individual or a few men.

I therefore urge all of you to claim your honour and support the emergence of a free democratic and prosperous country. Zanu (PF) has failed to create that for all of us and we therefore must ensure that we renew the leadership of this country as a matter of urgency.

Your brother in the new struggle for the total freedom of all Zimbabweans.

– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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