Former Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Amy (ZPRA) cadres, says some people are masquerading as war veterans and are occupying top government positions having fabricated their liberation struggle records to benefit from the State.
The former freedom fighters lamented these fake heroes do not share the values that true veterans fought for and due to their actions, have dampened the mood for Heroes Day as Zimbabweans feel it is not worth celebrating anymore.
Addressing a press briefing Wednesday, ZPRA Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi said the hype that usually accompanies the Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day commemorations has dwindled, as Zimbabweans grapple with the socio-economic and political challenges affecting the country.
“As ZPRA, we have been underplayed by people who probably never participated in the liberation struggle, who don’t deserve and demand that recognition, as a result, this Heroes Day has gone unnoticed yet it should have commemorated all those who fought for this country as early as 1959 when real combat was laid on floor but we cadres have become poorer while we grow older,” he said.
Magwizi said the veterans’ space in the country had been invaded by some people never participated in the struggle yet were today calling themselves heroes, watering down the importance of Heroes Day.
“This affects us as certain people are now priding themselves when they did not go the struggle and these are people filling all government infrastructure and national security departments.
Therefore, they don’t want to see ZPRA alongside with then because we were a powerful force that sought to create freedom, peace and unity which these people now in government didn’t want instead became pseudo guerrillas,” he said.
The former freedom fighter said fake heroes fabricated their role in the struggle while demeaning the sacrifices made by ZPRA forces.
“A certain tortoise is found on top a tree but we know it can’t climb but how did it reach that spot. Someone has taken the tortoise and put it on the tree.
In the Ministry of Defence, some tortoises are on top of the tree … but they are denied by the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and we didn’t have them in our ZPRA ranks but today they are the ones calling the shots on national security because they are Ministers of Defense,” he said, alleging that one such fake hero was the current deputy Minister of Defence, Victor Matemadanda.
Matemadanda is also the current Zanu PF National Political Commissar, a former Deputy Minister of War Veterans and Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.
Reached for Comment, Matemadanda curtly said he was “ZANLA, not ZIPRA.”
Magwizi also called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to release their war records and combat diaries that would help set the record straight on who did what during the liberation struggle.
“Right now the destruction of the Salisbury Fuel Tanks in 1978 is a contentious issue and some people have used our war records to create dominance for themselves, using what ZPRA did. We need our documentation back, it will help sieve out those who did not participate. But our records were stolen in 1982, with our property and cadres killed as Gukurahundi started,” he said.
ZPRA veterans association Secretary-General, Petros Sibanda, added that the new Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill must be expedited so that re-vetting of veterans can start.
“This is how we will flush out fake heroes and conduct a re-vetting process where records of all those who went to the liberation struggle would be required. Perhaps the reason for the delay is because of these fears,” he said.