By Sij Ncube
Harare, August 23, 2016 – FEUDING Zanu PF politicians have conspired to bastardise Zimbabwe’s liberation war history in a fierce mudslinging fiasco with the state media being an enthusiastic participant.
In an attempt to taint each other, President Robert Mugabe, axed vice president Joice Mujuru, embattled war veterans chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa and former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo have all found their names featuring in sensational post war narratives by rivals.
Mujuru has become Mugabe’s fierce rival since she and dozens of her followers were thrown out of the ruling party for allegedly fanning factionalism in 2015.
With the aid of the state media, Zanu PF politicians have taken turns to undo as well as rubbish some of her known liberation war heroics, the most prominent being that she single-handedly shot down a Rhodesian helicopter.
Using the Sunday Mail, one George Rutanhire threw the proverbial cat among the pigeons, branding Solomon Mujuru’s widow a harlot who generously offered sexual favours to several of her male comrades during the war before deciding to finally settled with her late husband Solomon.
The new narrative says the Rhodesian chopper was blown by one of Mujuru’s alleged sexual partners after daring to fly on top of the couple which was busy enjoying the forbidden fruit.
Critics point out the latest indecent and uncivil machinations to rebrand Joice Mujuru as a “prostitute” dovetails with Zanu PF’s strategy to smear Mugabe’s perceived and imagined opponents as she is now viewed as a serious threat than cancer-stricken MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
War veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who is among those who cheered loudest when Mujuru was hounded out of the party, was the first to accuse her of lying about downing the helicopter.
But it is the latest trashing of Joice’s role during the liberation struggle and her portrayal as a woman of loose morals which has hogged the limelight on what really happened in the war of liberation amid fears the country’s liberation war history relies on hearsay.
Ricky Mukonza, a political analyst who teaches public management at South Africa’s Venda University of Science and Technology, says latest revelations confirm that Zimbabwe’s history is what Zanu PF through its various propaganda machinery wants citizens believe to be nothing but the truth.
“It might all be fake,” said Mukonza, “In fact, the Zanu PF political elite, after telling us lies believe that they can correct the same lies and we should have no problems with it (believing the corrected version of lies).
“The scary and sad fact is that we may never know the truth about the country’s liberation struggle as most of those who took part in it either died with the truth or have assisted in peddling the big lies for political expediency.”
It is understood the stories in The Sunday Mail and its sister papers are in response to Joice’s recent remarks that Mugabe never went to the war front but instead spent her time in the safety of hotels in Maputo during the war.
She also challenged Mugabe to disclose his guerrilla name during the war, a development that angered Mugabe’s spokesperson Charamba and army general Constantino Chiwenga who came out guns blazing, insisting there was no need for the Zanu PF leader to assume an alias.
But critics point out the late Joshua Nkomo, the leader of then Zapu, had several war names among them Chibwe Chiteza (the slippery rock).
So confused has been the accounts of the goings-on during the war that opponents of Zanu PF also point out at claims that Mutsvangwa did not actively fight much but was fixated with stealing women’s underwear.
Vice president Phelekezela Mphoko’s war history has also stirred some controversy with his former colleagues in Zapu and Zipra claiming he sold out during the war while in Maputo, Mozambique amid charges he sold Zipra arms to Zanla.
There have been incessant calls by Zapu and Zipra cadres that the history of the struggle needed to be re-written, pointing out that current state media reports and history books suggested Zanu PF and Zanla were the only ones who fought the war.
“The Zanu PF conception of Zimbabwe is based on historical lies and smelly propaganda,” said Sibusiso Ngwenya, a political analyst, in response to state media reports on Mujuru’s alleged shenanigans during
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesman, weighed in, saying it was doubtful what role, if any, some senior Zanu PF officials played during the war of liberation.
“So, who, exactly fought in the armed struggle against Ian Smith’s racist, illegal regime? Too much mud-slinging,” said Gutu.
Mukonza said the ruling party was being selfish and reckless, saying the national history belonged to all citizens who had and still have a duty to establish and preserve a true account of important historical occurrences such as the liberation struggle as this defines Zimbabweans as a people.
“It is emerging that some of the things which for a very long time stood in our memories as history were peddled to ensure that certain people are positioned for political power. The current generation is now confused as to what really transpired during the war and at the rate at which the history has been and continues to be distorted future generations may as well end up questioning whether the war ever took place or it was imagined. The damage is bigger than what the current Zanu PF leaders are thinking.”
Nelson Banya, editor of The Source wrote: “Zanu PF war hagiography is collapsing right before our eyes. It won’t be pretty but who knows. We could yet salvage a more accurate history.”
The bottom line is, the country’s war history is in tatters, period.