Chitando said Mnangagwa’s administration was belittling the country’s real freedom fighters by conferring liberation hero status to people that were born after the country attained independence in 1980.
He said this in reference to the liberation hero status which was conferred on the late 38-year-old Mashonaland Central Zanu-PF provincial youth leader, Lens “Ruwizhi” Farando, who died last week, and the national hero status conferred on the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba.
Ruwizhi (38) and Gwaradzimba (60) succumbed to COVID-19 last week. Gwaradzimba will the buried at the National Heroes Acre on a date yet to be announced.
Chitando said the late minister’s obituary, which was continuously aired by the national broadcaster ZBC-TV, was very misleading as it stated that she was born in 1960 and attended school in “Hippo Valley in Bikita”, before she fought in the liberation struggle in 1975 to 1976.
He said Gwaradzimba’s profile showed that she joined the liberation struggle at the tender age of 15, and that at 17 she was promoted to commander level in the provincial structure in 1977.
Chitando scoffed at the obituary, saying it had glaring errors in that whoever penned it showed that they did not know that Hippo Valley was not in Bikita, which makes people question its authenticity.
“The biggest problem is not about Zanu-PF trying to rewrite history to suit its interests, but that Zanu-PF is running out of true heroes and heroines. If the process of conferring hero status remains in the hands of a political party like Zanu-PF, it means that we will see a lot of distortion of the liberation war history. They will continue to panel beat it to suit their evil interests,” Chitando said.
“Is Hippo Valley in Bikita? It’s a big no. The fact that the author of the obituary does not know that Hippo Valley is not in Bikita raises eyebrows. It means that people can only believe the rest of the story at their own peril. Since 2017, the new dispensation has reduced the selection of heroes and heroines to child’s play. Those deserving to be at the Heroes’ Acre were denied that status because of hatred and factionalism,” he said.
Chitando went on to question the claim that the late Gwaradzimba was promoted to commander at the age of 17 in 1977.
But Zanu-PF party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said there were laid-down procedures that were followed in conferring one with a hero or heroine, adding that provinces made recommendations before the President conferred hero status.
“There is no law that says those who were born after independence should not be accorded hero statuses. These are just trivial issues that are being raised by idle minds. If someone has served his or her country distinctly, then he or she deserves to be accorded that status,” he said.
“It’s not distortion of history, but it is correctly chronicling the events as they happened.”