Struggle hero in struggle for recognition: Family demands support for Aaron Ndhlovu

The family of Aaron Ndhlovu, affectionately known as AGD, a once decorated ZAPU politician has spoken about the neglect he has endured from the State, which has failed to honour his contributions during the liberation struggle.

Ndlovu, who lives in Kensington, on the outskirts of Bulawayo, is the last surviving member of the PF ZAPU National Executive from 1980.

He also served as the leader of the Zimbabwe African Congress of Trade Unions (ZACU) and Secretary of the Zimbabwe Workers Union.

Ndhlovu’s family said his current situation was depressing considering the illustrious role he played during the struggle.

These concerns come as Ndhlovu celebrated 95 years last month. 

In an interview with CITE, Ndlovu’s daughter Mlondolozi, lamented her father’s neglect, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to honouring its obligations to those who have served the country.

“Aaron Ndhlovu was born 9 March 1929 and turned 95 years old this year. He is a true cadre who participated in the struggle for his mother country – Zimbabwe but to my little knowledge he has nothing that one could tell he fought for this country or received praise for the very good works he did,” Mlondolozi said.

“My father also travelled a lot during the liberation struggle, canvassing for support. Out of the five continents that are there, it’s only Asia where he did not go.”

Ndhlovu’s daughter said she was saddened to have to remind people of her father’s credentials when he was advanced in age or speak about his experiences when he had nothing to show for it.

“He is one of those illustrious sons who sacrificed to liberate our country. He was out there for almost 18 years and came back alive as others did not make it. But ever since I grew up I have not heard or seen him and other cadres fully recognised for their work,” Mlondolozi said.

“This makes us ask what the government is doing for people like my father since this same government that purports to recognise war veterans’ is also  turning a blind eye on them.”

Mlondolozi said there was a time when her father received some recognition but it ended just there.

“Amai Mnangagwa once came to his homestead in Kensington 2019 to see him. Before I go on, may I say I salute the mother of the nation as she kneeled for that old man in his shack showing some respect. When she came, Amai Mnangagwa asked what help he needed and my mother wrote down a list of items,” she said.

These items included “building of a house, finishing up the borehole, food, transport, medication and fencing of the place.”

The visit referred to by Mlondolozi was in June 2019 when the First Lady made a whirlwind tour of Bulawayo, visiting the Dabengwa residence to sympathise with now late Zodwa Dabengwa (then widow of the late national hero, Dumiso Dabengwa) and also visiting some ZAPU stalwarts such as now late, David Moyo in Emganwini and the Coronation Old Peoples Home to see Jane Ngwenya who is also late.

Mnangagwa also visited the former first lady, Janet Banana, whose husband, Canaan Banana, was Zimbabwe’s first president after independence.

Mlondolozi lamented that after the First Lady’s visit, her father’s situation did not improve.

“I remember the first lady said if there were any problems, (we should) please contact me. But we did not get the phone numbers,” she said

“So since then till today nothing has been done but the other colleagues that Amai visited that same year on the same day have got something as an appreciation for their works.”

Mlolondizi said she was more confused, questioning: “What my father did wrong that he cannot be forgiven and be recognised as other cadres of his rank as a freedom fighter.”

ZPRA Veterans Association Secretary General, Petros Sibanda  confirmed Ndhlovu’s status in ZAPU and as one of the pioneers of the liberation struggle.

“It is unfair and disappointing how the government chose to prioritise other veterans whose works were not so glorious and neglect the committed fighters as seen in the case of most former ZPRA fighters,” he said.

“We have  ailing war veterans, ex-detainees and collaborators who are poor and struggling to seek medical treatment but are burdening well wishers as their families pay hospital bills.”

Sibanda said there was another veteran, Mokibelo Mashila who was attacked by a porcupine last month and had to seek treatment at Gwanda hospital where he was admitted.

“Mashila’s family and wellwishers had to chip in otherwise it was the State’s responsibility .

Some may ask why we are handing everything to the State and we are saying these are struggling members of the community who despite their sacrifices have nothing to show even their family members are finding it rough as well,” said the secretary general.

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