ZAPU and its former armed wing, ZPRA marked their own Heroes Day celebrations by laying wreaths at the graves and saluting their unsung heroes at Lady Stanley cemetery in Bulawayo.
The veterans and families led by acting ZAPU president, Isaac Mabuka, laid flowers at the graves of heroes such as Lookout Masuku, Charles Cadet Grey, Tafi Zibuya Moyo, Mtshena Sidile, Booker Muntwabantu Moyo Alice Mazalu nee Sidile and Enock Tshindeni Taka among others.
Addressing the gathering Monday, Mabuka said Lady Stanley was one of the symbolic places for ZPRA heroes as they were interred either by choice and others by circumstance.
He demanded that the state must honour these heroes by releasing their war archives it confiscated.
“The stories of our heroes need to be told. We once more demand that the regime honours these heroes by releasing the archives that it confiscated.
Those records belong to the people of this country. The future generations need to know the true story of the struggle,”Mabuka said.
The ZAPU acting president added that the sanitised education curriculum taught in schools was a betrayal of the contribution of their cadres to the country’s liberation.
“We therefore lead the calls upon the current regime in Harare to listen to the ‘voice of the people’,” he said.
Mabuka noted that the country demanded their freedom from the polarisation of the political space, which has resulted in unprecedented suffering of people and divisions along political affiliation.
“In light of the above we once again affirm our commitment to the total freedom of this country which only achieved symbolic liberation from the settler regime. We are here to remember the ultimate sacrifice of those comrades lying scattered in the forests, caves, riverbanks and mineshafts of this country.
“We are here to commiserate with the widows and families who gave husbands and children to the struggle for liberation and freedom. We are here to rekindle empathy with those families still wondering at the fate of their husbands, wives, sons and daughters who never returned from the war,” he said.
Mabuka also expressed gratitude to those workers who sacrificed their resources to support the liberation struggle.
“Thank you for the clothing items such as tennis shoes, jeans, khakhis and watches you sent to the freedom fighers. We are also here to pay homage to the old ladies who fed our fighters during the struggle, we thank you for the chickens and goats that you slaughtered to feed the fighters,” said the acting ZAPU president.
He noted that the liberation struggle was a collective effort of every citizen, it was not only on the shoulders of the soldiers.
“We are here to acknowledge that the struggle was a collective effort, no one is better than the other, we are all special as the liberation struggle was for everyone in this this country. We want to reassure Gedi, Mabuza, Swazini, Khalisabantu and others lying here that we have not forgotten their sacrifice. We are still seized with the struggle that they believed in so much,” said Mabuka.
Representing ZPRA, Mark Mbayiwa claimed the former armed wing was the strongest in the word and if given a chance to rule the country, Zimbabwe would be better off.
“The fighters vowed every to be captured by the enemy, if captured they declared they would kill themselves rather than betray fellow comrades. A friend of mine, a Mangwende was surrounded by soldiers after he had visited his partner who stayed near the frontal bases. When the soldiers stormed the house he pulled a grenade, killed the whites and himself in the process, such was the dedication of the fighters to the struggle,” he said.
“Look at the Lancaster House agreement that was done to stop ZPRA from taking over the country and the assembly points created afterwards were meant to destabilise us.”
Mbayiwa lamented that ZPRA was now a laughing stock but their current poor state was not of their doing but circumstances that resulted in such.
In giving the closing remarks, Alderman Micheal Bathandi Ronald Mpofu said it was traumatic for ZPRA to experience hardship during the liberation struggle and to continue to suffer after independence.
“Imagine guarding and fighting the enemy back then to making push scotch-carts such is the life that we see,” he said.