The 42nd Heroes Day Commemorations were poorly attended in Bulawayo and Kariba with some residents who spoke to NewsDay saying the event has lost its significance because the government is failing to honour the “real liberators”.
In Kariba, the commemorations were held at Nyamhunga Stadium while in Bulawayo the commemorations were held at the Nkulumane provincial Heroes Acre. Few people turned up at both venues.
ZIPRA Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi said President Emmerson Mnangagwa should first take care of the country’s former liberation fighters rather than harping about Vision 2030. Magwizi said:
Poverty is the measurement of war veterans; they are the ones who engineered push carts in the 1980s after they were sidelined.
Up to now, they are still pushing those push carts to try and earn a living.
The graves of the fallen heroes are scattered across the country, and up to now some of these fallen fighters have not been reburied.
They are speechifying on pulpits but are failing to honour their promises to the heroes.
Magwizi accused Mnangagwa of downplaying the contributions made by ZIPRA war veterans such as Jaison Ziyaphapha and Nikita Mangena as well as fallen heroes from Umkhonto weSizwe (the military wing of South Africa’s African National Congress). He said:
He does not talk about Jaison Ziyaphapha and Nikita Mangena because he has no business with them and wants to downplay their contributions and those made by Zipra forces. He only mentions Ndabaningi Sithole and James Chikerema.
The ZIPRA war veterans also questioned the criteria used in selecting national heroes.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo said true heroes are living in abject poverty while the politically connected are enjoying the country’s wealth. He said:
It’s unfortunate that the dream of freedom for 42 years has not yet been realised by the masses. We still have several unsung heroes who died and lie in unmarked graves or mass graves.
Genuine cadres are wallowing in poverty, while those that are politically connected are benefiting. The true liberators lost their properties and have not yet gotten them back.
Some ZIPRA war veterans allege that their contributions during the liberation struggle are being downplayed by the ZANU PF government, which seems to be amplifying those played by ZANLA forces.
ZIPRA was the military wing of ZAPU then led by Joshua Nkomo while ZANLA was ZANU’s military wing during the liberation struggle.