Female Ex-Combatants Recount War Abuses As they Demand Compensation
Zanu (PF) bigwigs and ex-Zanla commanders who fought in the war of liberation, have been fingered in the case of rampant sexual abuse of female combatants who now demand compensation for their suffering, according to the Standard newspaper.
Ex-women freedom fighters said comments attributed to Zanu (PF) Politburo member and war veteran Oppah Muchinguri, accusing former Vice-President Joice Mujuru of forcing young women to sleep with male combatants during the liberation struggle, have all but confirmed the shenanigans by “chefs”.
The women said the admission gives them a fresh opportunity to demand compensation for their suffering.
The war veterans said all along their claims for compensation for the abuse they suffered during the liberation struggle were suppressed by their colleagues in “higher offices,” who were now accusing each other of perpetrating the crime.
Muchinguri was quoted by The Sunday Mail a few weeks ago as saying:
“When Joice came back from Zambia, in fact she did not undergo any form of training. A few days after she joined us in Mozambique, Joice physically assaulted me. I, Cde Duri and Cde Chitsotso, resisted sleeping with the likes of Cde [Didymus] Mutasa, Cde Bhombandiani and I was whipped for that. Imagine, Joice was there!
“We want you to understand how young female soldiers suffered as Joice engineered all these abuses,” Muchinguri told party supporters at Vengere Hall in Rusape.
But Muchinguri Saturday denied ever making such allegations.
“I never said that. What I said was recorded and it is not correct that I said she [Mujuru] did that,” she told The Standard.
Mujuru, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, married her husband, the late former army commander General Solomon Mujuru in Mozambique. A number of other Zanla commanders and Zanu PF officials, among them Mutasa, also married women combatants.
Outspoken former female freedom fighter and Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) president Margaret Dongo said what Muchinguri said was a tip of the iceberg as a lot was still to be revealed.
“The truth of the matter has not yet been told….abuses of female ex-freedom fighters were so high and sophisticated that they deserve to be paid damages,” said Dongo.
Another ex-combatant and prolific writer, Freedom Nyamubaya said the abuse of female combatants was a very sensitive matter.
“The issue of abused former female combatants by chefs is a hot potato. I talked about it in most of my books and poems,” said Nyamubaya.
Among Nyamubaya works, the poem, For Suzana is irresistible for its gentle narration of ordeals of a woman who sacrifices her life to train and carry arms for freedom before suffering humiliation through rape when her body becomes a “church for high-ranking monks to relieve their stress”.
Another female ex-combatant who only wanted to be identified as Chapwititi (her Chimurenga name), said it was sad to note that Muchinguri accused Mujuru when she knew very well that both of them were survivors ( victims).
“It is very sad that Muchinguri can accuse Teurai [Mujuru] when she is aware that both of them are victims,” she said with tears in her eyes. “We had tasked them to raise the issue once we were back but they forgot, probably because of the comfort they were now enjoying.”
A Chinhoyi-based single parent and female war veteran agreed, saying most of her colleagues in the struggle were abused despite their positions.
She said most of them failed to get married because most ordinary people did not understand them or feared their past.
“Most of us were abused including those in higher positions by these chefs during the war of liberation and we agreed while in Mozambique that we would push for compensation back home,” said the ex-freedom fighter.
“But after independence the women in higher offices including Muchinguri and Mujuru dragged their feet saying it was disrespectful to our leaders…zvino chaipa chii? [what has gone wrong?]”
But their male counterparts said sex among ex-combatants was consensual even with the povo (civilians).