War vet­er­ans: Ar­chi­tects of Zim’s sovereignty

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/analysis/ National News - Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu

ZIM­BABWE com­mem­o­rates Heroes’ Day to­day at a time when the na­tion is seized with mis­guided in­di­vid­u­als call­ing for the Zanu-PF Gov­ern­ment to step down to make room for a situation that is not ex­actly clearly spelt out. In that mix­ture of Zanu-PF suc­ces­sion con­tro­versy and con­fu­sion about what dis­pen­sa­tion would fol­low the de­manded res­ig­na­tion of ei­ther Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe as head of state or that of the Zanu-PF ad­min­is­tra­tion, a sig­nif­i­cant seg­ment of war vet­er­ans has been in­volved.

But the ruling party is not re­ally the core subject of dis­cus­sion to­day — the vet­er­ans of our lib­er­a­tion war are.

It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that war vet­er­ans can be placed into sev­eral cat­e­gories that emerged at the at­tain­ment of in­de­pen­dence in April 1980.

At that time, some guer­ril­las sur­ren­dered their weapons and re­turned to civil­ian life as mere vil­lagers or peas­ants.

A large num­ber pre­ferred to be in­te­grated into var­i­ous sec­tions or de­part­ments of the coun­try’s se­cu­rity forces: the army, the po­lice and the cor­rec­tional and prison ser­vices.

Some war vet­er­ans joined the Zim­bab­wean civil ser­vice as rep­re­sented by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and also those em­ployed by lo­cal gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties.

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber got em­ployed by in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions, with some be­com­ing em­ploy­ers as they turned into com­mer­cial en­trepreneurs or in­dus­tri­al­ists.

Some for­mer guer­ril­las chose to join var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties as lead­ers, ac­tivists or pas­sive mem­bers. It is some of th­ese ac­tivists who are pub­licly fea­tur­ing in Zim­babwe’s cur­rent de­vel­op­ments.

There are also for­mer guer­ril­las who have joined re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions, par­tic­u­larly Chris­tian churches ei­ther as ordinary mem­bers or as lead­ers at one or other lev­els. For­mer guer­ril­las are found also in the ranks of tra­di­tional re­li­gions through­out the coun­try.

Chris­tian churches as a gen­eral tra­di­tion base their po­lit­i­cal doc­trines and guide­lines on var­i­ous bib­li­cal state­ments, his­tor­i­cal oc­cur­rences, in­junc­tions and moral teach­ings. Whereas most of those churches urge their mem­bers to be guided by their in­di­vid­ual con­sciences as to what to sup­port po­lit­i­cally, Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses preach that their mem­bers should leave pol­i­tics to God who will sooner or later come down to rule the world.

We also find some for­mer guer­ril­las in the pro­fes­sions, that is, in the academia as school teach­ers, lec­tur­ers, pro­fes­sors, and also as lawyers, med­i­cal doc­tors, nurses, bankers and as ar­chi­tects and town plan­ners.

Some of the for­mer guer­ril­las are ven­dors, and are to be found on pave­ments sell­ing what­ever trin­kets and com­modi­ties they can af­ford to or­der lo­cally or from some neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

The pub­lic trans­port sec­tor has its share of for­mer guer­ril­las, and so has the ho­tel, travel and tourism, in­clud­ing sa­fari op­er­a­tions.

The clas­si­fi­ca­tion into sev­eral sit­u­a­tions in which Zim­babwe’s war vet­er­ans are, is not com­plete with­out men­tion­ing those who are liv­ing in the di­as­pora where those with trades or pro­fes­sions live rel­a­tively com­fort­ably.

But many who have nei­ther skills nor pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions live from hand-to-mouth, and are usual de­por­ta­tion tar­gets.

We can say with­out any hes­i­ta­tion or doubt that in spite of th­ese gallant sons and daugh­ters find­ing them­selves in what­ever situation, hav­ing dif­fer­ent daily needs, so­cial and eco­nomic threats, they are as united on the de­fence of their coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence to­day as they were while they were fight­ing for it.

A for­mer guer­rilla who is now push­ing a cart (Sca­nia) or sell­ing what­ever item on the streets of Zim­babwe is surely as deeply proud of his or her coun­try’s sovereignty to­day as he was deeply com­mit­ted to achiev­ing it dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.

That is a fact ev­ery gen­uine for­mer freedom fighter would wish to up­hold in spite of any neg­a­tive so­cial or eco­nomic devel­op­ment that has oc­curred in the coun­try since Zim­babwe’s at­tain­ment of in­de­pen­dence.

It is very im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that pol­i­tics is all about the acquisition and util­i­sa­tion of two things: power and space.

Poli­cies, laws, rules, reg­u­la­tions and their en­force­ment rep­re­sent practical power. Space is rep­re­sented by the sov­er­eign state’s ter­ri­tory: the land, the air, and wa­ter if it is a mar­itime state.

The ob­jec­tive of our in­de­pen­dence was not to gain empty po­lit­i­cal power, but to use that power to ex­ploit re­sources in and on our space for the bet­ter­ment of our lives. That was the real aim of the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle in eco­nomic terms, and that is what ev­ery for­mer guer­rilla should be do­ing as his or her pri­or­ity.

Now that the land (space) is in our hands, able­bod­ied Zim­bab­weans should be do­ing some­thing ev­ery day to pro­duce food, bev­er­ages, cloth­ing, or trans­port, ed­u­ca­tional, med­i­cal and other ser­vices for them­selves and for their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties.

While some have opted to pur­sue pol­i­tics full­time, most for­mer guer­ril­las are in other na­tional sec­tors, the largest num­ber be­ing un­doubt­edly in agri­cul­ture in the ru­ral ar­eas.

Th­ese should leave full time pol­i­tics to those who de­sign and im­ple­ment po­lit­i­cal party poli­cies while they con­cen­trate on na­tional so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

That can be done by ex­ploit­ing lo­cally avail­able re­sources such as tim­ber, min­er­als, gravel, grass, wild game, soil, wa­ter, fish and other eco­log­i­cal prod­ucts at ward level. The aim would be to cre­ate em­ploy­ment lo­cally and to sell some prod­ucts out­side re­spec­tive wards and thereby bring­ing mon­e­tary wealth into the wards.

Ward projects can range from brick­mak­ing to fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­ing. Some wards may be more suit­able for chicken or pig projects than for fur­ni­ture or tim­ber projects. It is easy to de­cide what pro­ject to start on the ba­sis of the avail­abil­ity or ma­te­rial, the mar­ket, man­power, man­age­ment, money, the well-known five “Ms”, with mo­ti­va­tion as the fi­nal el­e­ment of that in­dus­trial devel­op­ment mix.

The main aim for such projects would be to gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment, im­prove peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dard, build the na­tional econ­omy, raise peo­ple’s per capita in­come, and to curb the ten­dency for some peo­ple to seek em­ploy­ment abroad. It is high time we prac­tise lib­er­a­tion strug­gle slo­gan: from each ac­cord­ing to his abil­ity, and to each ac­cord­ing to his needs.

With the land (space) in our hands, nat­u­ral re­sources are thus in our pos­ses­sion, and that is what we fought for. What is re­quired now is to turn the soil, wa­ter, tim­ber and grass into com­fort­able res­i­den­tial houses; tim­ber into beds, ta­bles, wardrobes, chairs and so­fas; min­er­als into fi­nan­cial wealth; var­i­ous other re­sources and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts into food, bev­er­ages, cloth­ing and bed­ding for our com­fort.

We should re­mem­ber that unity among war vet­er­ans means na­tional peace and progress; dis­unity is ret­ro­gres­sive.

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a war veteran and a re­tired Bu­l­awayo - based jour­nal­ist. He can be con­tacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. sg­wakuba@gmail.com

War vet­er­ans fol­low pro­ceed­ings in Lu­pane in this file pic­ture

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