By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, August 08, 2016 – ON Monday, the nation celebrated the national Heroes Day, but the mood among ZIPRA war vets in Zimbabwe’s second largest city was far from being a festive one.
Although they fought the same war against the colonial government on different fronts, Zipra and Zanla forces both contributed to the country’s independence.
Zipra was a military wing under the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu, once a bitter rival to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu, which had Zanla as its military wing.
RadioVOP caught up with one of the Zipra war veterans, Max Mkandla, who revealed that their role in bringing the country’s independence in 1980 seemed to be overlooked by the current Mugabe government.
Mkandla said this was done deliberately by “thugs” who were bent on perpetuating discrimination at their expense.
“These are thugs bent to fanning discrimination within war veterans’ family. It’s not true that Zanla, which was Zanu’s military wing, contributed much more to the country’s independence compared to Zapu forces. Both forces played equal role,” Mkandla said.
Commenting on how a hero was being regarded under the current Zanu PF led government, Mkandla said it was disheartening to note that people like the late Lookout Masuku who fought so gallantly for the country’s independence were not recognised.
“How could they deny a hero such as Lookout Masuku a national hero’s status yet Border Gezi (former gender and youth minister) are being accorded the honour? It’s not correct,” he said.
Mkandla, however, said despite the apparent discrimination between war veterans from the two liberation war military wings, it was saddening both sets of liberators were being subjected to similar abuses by President Mugabe’s vindictive regime.