Former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) instructor, Grace Ethel Noko has bemoaned the politicisation of the national heroes’ status saying “everyone fought for this country”.
She also expressed concern over the “trend” whereby some liberation war fighters are being rewarded handsomely while their colleagues continue to wallow in poverty. She told NewZimbabwe.com:
Everyone is a hero. I cannot say we are enjoying at the moment because the situation we are in now in the country is not what we fought for. We could be better than this if we really meant to a build real Zimbabwe for Africans, but at the moment even if we are being given the little as war veterans I cannot buy anything.
I think you can even see that my body does not reflect someone who is sitting pretty or who is really happy. We are suffering in our own Zimbabwe which we fought for.
Most of them were also allocated farms while female cadres like myself do not own anything.
The idea of a National Heroes’ Acre, from an individual point of view, is alright for historical purposes, but I still take it to say someone should be laid to rest at his or her home or people. Now that there is this Heroes Acre, that is where you find the segregation because real heroes are not taken to that place.
At the moment, we are told that it’s only from a Colonel and above who should lie at the national shrine or someone who should be accorded that status by the President. Everyone fought for this country.
We cannot say someone fought above others because you cannot fight a struggle alone
Noko who comes from the Halisupi area in Gwanda district, crossed into Botswana in 1975 together with her nephew and two other youths from the same locality before they were taken to Nampundwe Transit Camp in Zambia.
She said she was only 15 years old when she left the country.
Her nom de guirre was Grace Muchichi. She trained many fighters including the late Brigadier General Sibusiso Moyo.
She was part of a group that was sent to Cuba for military intelligence training in 1977 and upon her return to Zambia in September 1978, she was deployed at the ZAPU headquarters in Lusaka where she worked under the late Vice-President, John Landa Nkomo.