ZPRA Veterans Association has voiced its displeasure at the disbanding of its revolutionary twin, Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) by South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), saying that move indicated African politics was under attack by some underhand imperialistic elements.
ZPRA and Umkhonto WeSizwe served together in the trenches during the struggle for independence as their alliance developed in 1967.
Both military wings formed an alliance that culminated in the first battles in the country, the Wankie Nyatuwe battles and other areas in the western part of Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. Initially, this alliance came about because Umkhonto we Sizwe needed assistance to cross Zimbabwe while on their missions to South Africa.
This necessitated making a joint military unit that would be battle-ready such as what was to become the Luthuli Detachment.
However, as factional politics have entrenched itself in South Africa, the ANC’s national executive committee endorsed a decision made by the party’s national working committee to disband the MKMVA leadership in June.
This dissolution came after concerns that MKMVA had become part of a faction sowing divisions within the ANC, a move which was resisted by the leadership of the former military movement.
During the occasion of the Day of the African Child, referred to as Youth Day in South Africa, commemorated on June 16, ZPRA Veterans Association said it was sad that revolutionary gains made were under attack.
“We celebrate as honour the gallantry and sacrifices of the youth of South Africa who broke the brunt of the racist apartheid regime. Unfortunately, as we commemorate the important day we do so when the revolutionary legacy is under the severe threat from our old enemies working with some of us in the movement,” said Petros Sibanda, Secretary-General of ZPRA Veterans Association in an interview with CITE.
Sibanda called on all veterans of the liberation struggle and the youth to remain the true vanguard of the revolution.
“As ZPRA, we say this without fear, favour or prejudice, as we know MKMVA better than anyone else. The move to disband both the MKMVA and the youth wing of the ANC is an indication of a revolution under attack from within,” said the secretary-general.
“It is tragic that today as we commemorate the day of our youths, the ANC has created a leadership vacuum with the ranks of our youths. ZPRA understands what is at play and offers support to our comrades as you navigate these murky waters.”
Sibanda noted that the bond between ZPRA and MK, was “written and signed by the bloods of our comrades who fell in Hwange and Sipolilo, among others areas.”
The secretary-general also called upon authorities in Zimbabwe and South Africa to help the veterans account for numerous unmarked graves of their comrades who died in the country.
“They must repatriate their remains to South Africa,” he said.
The ex-ZPRA fighter also called upon authorities in South Africa to find a sustainable solution to the immigration crisis and call out all xenophobic groupings that endanger the lives of other Africans in that country.
“We call upon all Africans resident in South Africa to avoid criminal activities and respect our hosts and their constitution in everything they do. ZPRA veterans and ZAPU members in South Africa are available, capable, and willing to play a role in community policing and partaking in crime prevention platforms in South Africa,” Sibanda said.
“Viva ANC Viva, Viva MKMVA Viva, Viva South Africa Youths Viva, Viva African Unity Viva, Viva ZPRA and Mkhonto Alliance Viva.”