Zipra and Umkhonto seek stronger ties

Zipra veterans and their Umkhonto WeSizwe counterparts have called for the strengthening of their liberation war alliance, which saw them fight in unison.

Zipra are Zapu’s former military wing, while Umkhonto WeSizwe belonged to the African National Congress, which rules South Africa now.

A combined contingent of the two forces crossed the Zambezi River from Zambia on July 30, 1967, but was soon detected by the Rhodesian forces and a number of bloody battles were fought from 1967 to late 1968.

During a weekend commemoration of the Wankie and Sipolilo battles, Monica Tshuma, who chairs the Zipra Veterans in South Africa, said the event was meant to reflect on the past while also mapping ways of keeping the two veterans’ associations as close as they had been in the past.

“That alliance will never be broken and events like this will always help us meet, interact and reflect on the past. They also help us teach the new generation of the great sacrifices that were made to bring freedom to the two countries – Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Tshuma.

“It is so unfortunate that most of our Zipra ex-combatants were, after fighting, treated so badly by the government in Zimbabwe, resulting in some of them being forced to flee the independent Zimbabwe they helped bring about.

“The Zanu (PF) government also continues to hold on to Zipra farms and companies that they hijacked in the early 1980s. It is high time Zanu returned these properties to the rightful owners as their families live in poverty,” she added.

Eunice Ximba, an official with the Mkhontowesizwe Veterans, called on South Africans to respect Zimbabwean migrants, who helped them achieve democracy.

“It pains me to see some of our people treat Zimbabweans and other foreigners badly. Things like xenophobia and exploitation that are happening now are a betrayal of the support we got, especially from Zipra and other Zimbabweans. Without them, we would not be free now,” said Ximba.

“We also need to keep sharing the resources we have with the many Zimbabweans that are here and back home as they continue to fight for total freedom and democracy in their country. They helped us, and now it is our time to pay back by helping them in whatever way we can. Their freedom is our freedom and they cannot achieve that without our assistance.”

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