Veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1960s and 70s protracted and decisive liberation struggle have come out guns blazing, accusing the Secretary General of the ZNLWVA (Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association), Victor Matemadanda, as a bogus war veteran, who has misrepresented his credentials for his own selfish ends – and should be nowhere in the leadership of any of the country’s revolutionary institutions.
This startling, and potentially explosive, the revelation was made by former combatants, who felt betrayed and abandoned by the once-revolutionary ruling ZANU PF party, and have since come together to form a powerful social media group, called Liberation War Veterans – which seeks to offer a platform for genuine liberation heroes to share views and ideas on the way forward, in advancement of the initial ideals and objectives of the struggle, and their current plight.
Questions pertaining to Matemadanda’s liberation war credentials were recently triggered on social media platform, Twitter, as none of the genuine liberation war cadres could vouch ever having stayed in the same camp with him, nor fought along side him.
The struggle veterans – who preferred to remain anonymous, for fear of victimization, but asserted that they were prepared to stand by their views in a court of law, should the need arise – condemned Matemadanda for falsifying his war credentials, alleging that he was a mere taxi cab driver in Zambia during the liberation war, in stark contrast to his long-held claim of having participated in the fight against the settler colonial Rhodesia regime, resulting in him securing the very influential post in the ZNLWVA.
A general sentiment, that he was trained at a base called ‘Chisamba’, was disputed by a male war veteran who said, “Chisamba and Mumbwa were general settlement areas for Zimbabweans, especially those we termed ‘MaZezuru’ and ‘Mapositori’.
“There was massive agricultural activity in those areas, and the local communities supported the liberation movements materially, including through the provision of grain, and other key essentials..
“Some of these community members settled in urban areas, and were mostly self-employed in ventures, such as, transport, market stalls, repairing and manufacturing (including handcrafts such as baskets and metal wares).
“The transport system was dominated by Zimbabwean exiles. The Matika brothers being part of that group (may their souls rest in peace) but, never claimed to be war veterans.
“The term ‘taxi driver’ is derived from that era!
“There were no training bases for ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army) in Zambia, as far as I know, except for a transit base located at Chisamba, and a small plot in Makeni, complimented by Number 93 Kamwala/or Kabwata. Although, I’m not sure between the two.
“The closest activity to training at Chisamba Farm was Toitoi, and Matanda rifles in the late 1977 – with recruits then transited to Mozambique and Tanzania for training.
“I’m one of those who transited those farms, and later trained at Nachinguea, in Tanzania. I never met Matemadanda there.”
Some of those who say to have personally met Matemadanda – who is also ZANU PF Political Commissar, and the Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs in government – alleged that he was the driver of the taxi cab that ferried them from Zambia to Tanzania in 1975, during the détente, when the Zambian police shot dead a number of Zimbabwe nationalists based at Mboroma camp, resulting in the leadership resolving that the remaining combatants be moved to Mgagao camp.
They questioned how someone who was employed as a taxi cab driver, and never took part in the country’s liberation struggle, could be trusted to empathize, let alone, overseer their legacy.
“Anyone can hold a powerful position in government, or ZANU PF for that matter. However, one can’t be a Minister of Health without any knowledge of health. Similarly, why should war veterans, be led by a non-war veteran?
“Being a liberation war veteran entails participation in the struggle. Matemadanda fails in this basic qualification. Furthermore, specialised training was given to develop one into a combatant, a health officer, a commissar, a seguranca, etc. One can’t just come from nowhere to declare themselves as a commissar. Collaborators too, deserve a leader who undertook discernible collaborative action.
“Noone wants to dwell in the past. However moving forward should not entail distorting and bending history to suit the interests of one or a few individuals. Instead, a transparent unity over values and ideals can be worked out – comprising all interested players – be they war vets, collaborators, taxi drivers union, workers union, former dzaku tsaku union, lawyers, journalists, youths, women, etc. You name it, as long as we are all Zimbabweans, we have a role to play without needing to forge a false historical identity.
“A commissar entails specific training and experience in ascertaining the peoples interests and defending them at all costs. Minister of war veterans entails some empathy based on shared experience and unity of purpose”, queried one of the liberation struggle heroes.
The aggrieved war veterans further questioned the integrity of the registration/vetting process of war veterans and collaborators, as there was a very strong possibility that most of those registered could be bogus, and fraudulently receiving the benefits earmarked for genuine veterans.
Given the recent massive vetting of ‘collaborators’ and unvetted war veterans since 2017 – the said figure of 30 000 warveterans could easily have doubled, mused one comrade. Another went on to blame atrocities against the masses, often camouflaged as ‘war veterans violence’, to such pseudo veterans who stole the identity in the 80s, mainly for self benefit and self aggrandizement.
“So, it’s been exposed! The leader of all Zimbabwe war vets, (who is also the leader of the commissariat of a revolutionary party), never fought in the struggle!
The same could apply to current defence forces, of which he is also an imposed deputy minister, rather than one who emerged from their ranks.
For all intents and purposes, it would appear that he (Matemadanda) is there only to serve and defend some other interest.
They further alleged that the real motive of this elaborate fraudulent scheme can only portray a hijacking of the Liberation legacy; and duping the masses, who still identify a revolutionary party with real liberation heroes. If not, why pretend to be one?
“There are principles and ideals, that young ZANLA and ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army) militants were imbued with. These values (nzira dzema soja) pertain to how they should behave.
“Masses/votes are to be won via mobilising, not violence as has happened in the past. That is a rot to our identity which must stop. It is self deafeating, only fakes and mercenaries wouldn’t care about keeping a clean identity or legacy. Thats the rot. The values also determine our perception of what the Patriotic Front should be like. A united revolutionary vanguard that places the rights of every Zimbabwean first. Real war vets, firmly and unequivocally stand on those values”.
One clearly frustrated female, went on to describe how she was rigged out of her votes in the DCC elections, in favour of an imposed well known fake female war veteran.
“The original ZANU PF would have never systematically relegated war veterans to nonentities. The original ZANU PF could never parcel out a sacred legacy of heroism, founded in blood and commitment, so easily to their business partners and errand boys”, said one of the clearly aggrieved ex combatants.
The former combatants concluded by urging ZNLWVA spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, “if genuine”, to put a stop to the entrenchment of the alleged ‘master-servant relationship’ between ZANU PF and war veterans. “We cant forever be carried in a sack – only hearing news about us which the majority of us are never consulted about. Are there ‘new’ who Veterans in this League, whose identity are equally as evasive? We are human, not labels to be stamped on personal decision papers.
“Show us how the (newly established ZANU PF War Veterans) League which carries our identity can stop the rot in our identity, rather than enhance it?”
Efforts to get a comment from Matemadanda were unfruitful, as he was unreachable.Post published in: Featured