A former member of the Zanla High Command Benard Manyadza says opportunists who fled the liberation war are now dictating pace in Zanu PF while bona fide war heroes are being flushed out.
Manyadza, whose nom de guerre was Parker Chipoyera said this his Wedza home, Zviyambi, on Monday, that some people who currently occupied key positions in government were cowards during the gruelling war of liberation.
“When we went to join the liberation war in 1973, we did not know whether there was Zapu or Zanu. What we wanted was to fight in the struggle.
“We were only told that there was a distinction when the Zanu guys told us that they formed the party in order to do away with dictatorship.
“Those from Zanu initially were saying they did not want that ideology which said a leader cannot be challenged. At that time, we did not know we were going to build the same thing because what we are seeing is exactly that,” Manyadza said.
The prominent war veteran, who was trained to be a platoon commander, said he was appointed instructor in 1974 and in 1975 became the head of instructors at the famous Mgagao Camp, whose declaration catapulted President Robert Mugabe to the party’s leadership.
Manyadza said the only people, among the living, fit to be called elders of the war veterans are the likes of Dumiso Dabengwa, Tshinga Dube and Ambrose Mutinhiri.
He lamented the fact that up to today “real” freedom fighters were still waiting for details on how the late Zanu national chairperson Herbert Chitepo had died in a bomb blast in 1975, leading to the arrest by the Zambian government of members of Dare reChimurenga.
“We would like to know how Chitepo died, how general Josiah Tongogara died and even how (Solomon) Mujuru died.
“On Chitepo, they say it’s the enemy agents (who were responsible) but now the question is what led to the arrest of those in the Dare reChimurenga?” he asked.
With birds singing above his home that is literally in the woods, Manyadza, who is not ashamed to shed tears when he recalls the rigours and tribulations of the war of liberation, said the struggle for a better Zimbabwe had been hijacked.
“The struggle was infiltrated. Some of the people who fled Mgagao Training Camp are now setting the pace. There is an anti-movement that is currently going on against bona fide war veterans, and those sentiments are coming from people who fled the struggle,” he said
The fearless guerrilla war commander said a commission of inquiry must be set up to investigate what prompted the Nhari/Banza Rebellion, simultaneously leading to a bloodbath when only 13 people had been implicated.
He said although the Dare had directed that Badza and his colleagues be reprimanded and taken to the rear, the “comrades” executed them, including many others.
“It should be explained why some innocent people, who were not even part of the Nhari Rebellion were executed. From 1974, suspicions became the order of the day. People became even afraid of their shadows,” he added.
Narrating the so-called Vashandi rebellion, Manyadza said the reprisals against those who were suspected of turning against dictatorship in the liberation movement went to the same “madness and murderous” proportions paralleling the killings of the Badza/Nhari “renegades”.
“Pakange paakuita (there was) repression against the so-called Vashandi. Even up to date the issue of suspicions rule the day especially among those from Zanla.
“It was a wave of repression and those who had not gone to school used to say ‘ini handina zvevhorovhoro’ meaning I do not want to be involved. If you asked a question like why there was no food, you were quickly accused of being involved.
“People were dying en masse because of hunger and those who dared ask were labelled. That is the culture that is even there today, where you see even the vice president now afraid that things could turn against her because she knows the history,” he said.
Vice President Joice Mujuru has come under a sustained attack from the State-controlled media, and with her political career under serious threat, she faces an uncertain future, especially given the serious allegations of corruption and treason hanging around her neck.
The evidently poor and unassuming war hero also said soldiers at Mgagao had made a “strategic error” when they gave Mugabe unfettered control of the ruling party.
“We made a strategic blunder. We should have said VaMugabe nevamwe (Mugabe and others), but when we said we shall only be led by VaMugabe who was in Mozambique because he is the one who was in line after we had rejected Sithole, it was a mistake,” he said.
He added that Samora Machel, and former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere questioned how people who had been imprisoned could have settled for Mugabe to be the leader of Zanu when the party had not gone through a congress.
Revealing in riveting detail some powerful persons in the current Zanu PF set-up as double agents, Manyadza said it was time that the true history of the liberation struggle was told “truthfully, with no political massaging”.
“The name Vashandi was turned around and became derogatory as some were of the idea that we should replace the worker/peasant through the creation of a cult led by one person.
“And that was the beginning of pamberi nemunhu one (forward with a single individual), something that has led us to where we are today.
“When the others were arrested, myself and Dzinashe were not arrested, and we confronted general Tongogara and accused him of siding with the secretary general (Mugabe),” Manyadza said.
Referring to Chitepo as epitomising the Vashandi, he said during the liberation war, guerrillas formed an alliance with the peasants and workers, and in war parlance this group was referred to as Vashandi.