Blessings Mashaya talks to Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) Mashonaland central chairperson Sam Parerenyatwa. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: What’s your take on the current situation in Zanu PF?
A: Well, I see it differently from what you people always say in the press. You report that Zanu PF members are fighting among themselves. My understanding is different.
The fighting you are reporting is between Zanu PF and its yester-year enemy, now coming under the umbrella of G40.
Zanu PF — that is the bona-fide veterans of the armed struggle, collaborators, restrictees and detainees and the masses of Zimbabwe — are taking a battering from the G40 cabal, remnants of the colonial regime of (Ian) Smith. If you scrutinise the background of the known G40 operatives, you will agree with me that Zanu PF is under siege from the colonial enemy it thought it defeated during the war. The enemy penetrated our defence line and is now hitting us from within our command post.
Q: What do you think is causing problems in Zanu PF?
A: Although it can be traced back to the coming in of the nationalists who were coming from detention when they joined the armed struggle in Mozambique and Zambia, much of the problem comes from the way we ended the armed struggle.
There was no need to accept the terms and conditions of the cease fire given the superior position liberation war fighter — Zanla and Zipra had as at 1979. In effect, the whole country was under our control it was a liberated zone.
We were tricked into that cease-fire agreement. Whether some of our leaders were part of the plot, is subject to current discussions mostly amongst war veterans and beyond.
Zanla or Zipra fighters were demobilised and unceremoniously sent home and de-activated from politics. War veterans sat on their laurels in anticipation of enjoying the benefits of their victory.
Policies such as the reconciliation were pronounced and implemented. Zanla and Zipra forgave their yesteryear enemy but were never forgiven by them.
The enemy occupied influential positions both in government and in the party. It’s a fact that the bulk of the current leadership, appointed not elected, as is supposed to be, the case by the current so-called national PC (political commissar), has links to the former regime of Ian Smith. Now the enemy is hitting and destroying us from within.
Q: War veterans have been accused of supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zanu PF succession race. What do you have to say about this?
V: That’s an accusation from an uninformed point of view. What war veterans are simply doing, as the bedrock and custodians of Zanu PF, is advising the party about the policy, processes, procedures and expectations when it comes to the sensitive issue of leadership succession.
This follows a serious display of mischief and ignorance by the blank Johnny-come-latelies currently occupying positions, particularly the commissariat and the secretariat in the party.
All what war veterans are saying is when it comes to succession; there is a Zanu PF way of doing it. Seniority, experience, dedication, loyalty, ability, just to mention but a few, are the tenets of the process and procedure in Zanu PF succession race.
It just happens to be that at this juncture, the shoe perfectly and comfortably fits ED. He has been, as expected, patiently waiting for the day to come. Zanu PF and Zimbabwe at large are very much aware and are eagerly waiting for that to happen. Typically positions, not names, are critical in the succession matrix of Zanu PF.
Q: Ok, so as war veterans, who do you think is the best candidate to succeed President Mugabe?
A: As I alluded to earlier on, it’s supposed to be most senior of all. In my well-considered opinion, in our case today, especially on the Zanla side, it is Cde ED who is the most senior of us all and it’s not only fair but paramount and procedural that he is given a chance.
Q: There are differences among the war veterans. What do you think is the cause of these differences?
A: There aren’t much of differences among bona fide war veterans. Real differences among genuine war veterans are minimal, hence not much of an issue to talk about. There are people masquerading as genuine war veterans, yet they are people who have been and are still on a mission to derail and reverse the gains of the revolution.
You know, when we went to war, not all were nursing the same purpose. Some went to execute the war which brought about the independence we have today, whereas other were sell-outs who were on a mission to gather information for the colonial masters.
Some of these sell-outs exposed themselves during the course of the war , for example Nyati at Nyadzonia, whereas others remained anonymous up to today and are amongst us masquerading as genuine war veterans yet they are men on a mission to reverse the gains of Chimurenga by destroying Zanu PF from within. These are the people causing the so-called disunity among war veterans. For the record, it must be noted that war veterans are now more united than at any other time after independence as they come to terms with the reality of the current political dispensation.
Q: Are you going to support …Mugabe in the forthcoming elections?
A: The current political dispensation shows a centre which is failing or is being made to fail to hold. The office and name of the president is being abused left, right and centre to further the interests of the said G40 sell-outs that are destroying the party from within. As such, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for genuine Zanu PF supporters to vote for such a candidate. There is great danger of the progression of the erosion of the legacy of the president and the revolution, collectively gained over a lengthy, bitter and bloody period. Should we continue to push him to hold on to that position against the dictates of nature? We are quite aware that in effect G40 does not want to field the president in 2018. They just want to use his name to boost the image of their preferred candidate. G40 does not like the president, they just want to use and dump him when all his trusted and tested lieutenants are no longer with him. I strongly feel it’s ideal to give the next deserving person a chance.
Q: Zanu PF is going for an extraordinary congress in December, what’s your position as war veterans?
A: The official position of the war veterans will come from our indaba coming in the next week or so. However, the generality of Zanu PF membership understands the so-called extraordinary congress as a G40 mischievous endeavour to fire Cde ED from their imaginary Zanu PF.
Although (Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius) Chombo and team tried to nicodemously exonerate themselves from their evil intentions at the so-called congress, the writing is clearly on the wall, and we have taken note. I am convinced the congress shall be a G40 event with no consequences to Zanu PF.
Q: What do you think needs to be done to unite Zanu PF?
A: As I said earlier on, the real Zanu PF is united. However, there is need to weed out the G40 menace from our party. There is also need for a centre of power which is effective yet consultative in nature.
We need to revert back to our revolutionary party’s constitution and act in line with that constitution. We need to take the party back to the people so that the people benefit from their party and its leadership not the current scenario where the leadership is benefiting from people. In essence, the founding principles of the party and its constitution have to be upheld and adhered to for normalcy to prevail.
Q: As war veterans are you happy with your welfare?
A: Not at all. We feel let down. We feel neglected by our government which we brought into power through our blood and sweat, through thick and thin. It appears there is no political will on the part of the powers that be.
We feel used and dumped like toilet tissue by the very same people we liberated. As victorious fighters, we expected to enjoy the fruits our victory. I recall it was a norm when we were in the jungles with my fellows fighters to always remind ourselves when departing that ‘Tonosangana kuMonomotapa”(We shall meet at the Monomotapa Hotel) but, alas, here we are, 37 years into liberated Zimbabwe, how many of us have even seen the doors of their dream hotel?
Zimbabwe is the only country which has gained independence through a protracted armed struggle, which has dumped its fighters soon after their victory.
Zanla and Zipra forces can’t be compared with ANC’s MK (Umkhonto Wesizwe) or Swapo’s PLAN. Most war veterans are living like beggars and paupers in a wealthy country they liberated, yet the big fish, shockingly most of whom fought against us during the war, are living large. Worse still, we can’t even afford a decent burial. ZNLWVA had to engage Doves funeral parlour where war veterans have to contribute from their mega pensions to ensure a decent burial. We feel condemned to the guillotine.
Q: What do you think needs to be done to improve your welfare?
V: We expect our welfare to be taken care of by the government. Our pensions should be above the poverty datum line, the sick must be treated, the dead must be given a befitting send off and above all there must be due recognition as is enshrined in section 84 and other relevant sections of our Constitution.
However, war veterans are cognisant of the fact that such a situation is not possible given the current political and economic dynamics at play. This is why you see most war veterans now raising concern over the political shenanigans in the country.
There is need for good governance based on sound economic policies, which does not promote vices such as corruption, abused of state funds, nepotism to mention just but a few. I feel as conscious veterans of the armed struggle, with the country at heart, there is need for a more serious approach for the country to come out of the woods we currently find ourselves in. – Daily News