Zimbabwe’s liberators deserve better

The Chronicle

Stephen Mpofu, Perspective

By day and by night they have for close to four decades of uhuru revisited indelible memories of the litmus tests to which their patriotism was subjected in the trying days, weeks, months and years of the armed revolution that rescued the motherland from a racist, foreign ruling culture which now lies dead and buried in the archives of history.

Adversaries – eluding ambushes by rebel Rhodesian troops, brushes with snakes, absorbing mosquito bites and atrocious weather conditions — must surely convince even the most ardent doubting Thomases in post-modern Zimbabwe that the men and women in point in this discourse are the true, unsung heroes of our independence who put paid to Ian Douglas Smith’s rebellion against the British crown with his unilateral declaration of Independence and not unmitigated liberation masquerades of the sort that now tamper with the hard-won freedom that saw many gallant sons and daughters of the soil perishing in the bush, by indulging in corruption and other unholy deeds in high places.

That some gallant former freedom fighters have recently and on the eve of Heroes’ Day after tomorrow called for the recognition of the role they played in liberating this country, suggests in all equanimity that they have and continue to perambulate on the periphery of the privileges that have accrued from the freedom, peace and stability that they brought to the country while other, erstwhile comrades-in-arms are constipated with, nay surfeited by the benefits of the revolution in which the comrades  participated.

These gallant fighters, who no doubt soldier on while eking out an existence that does not befit people who gave so much to the freedom of this country, might well have been driven by their lacklustre existence and joined uninverted  patriots or teamed up with this country’s external foes in trying to upset apple-carts over the years of uhuru or by smuggling rotten and bitter apples onto the carts to cause revolt by the masses who need the apples/better things for their existence.

That the liberators seeking recognition for a better wealth for themselves and their families have not resorted to any dirty tricks to annul the democracy that they helped create, demonstrates a loyalty that must elicit not only the ears of those in power but, above all, noticeable action to ensure that those who liberated our country and brought stability for self-determination to become a reality also enjoy the fruits of their role in bringing independence and freedom to their motherland.

Calls have been made by some leaders, and in response to pleas by the former fighters, that these true sons and daughters could play a significant role in Zimbabwe’s economic development.

That is all very well, but the right parameters must be put in place by the powers that be to enable the liberators in question to move out of their limbo and into active contribution for this nation to move economically, socially and politically toward a brave new future for all Zimbabweans.

Devolution, now on the verge of implementation to take power, some of it that is, from central government to urban and rural councils would appear to be one such starting point for the liberation fighters in question to begin a brave new future for themselves, their families and the motherland.

Most if not all of those who took up arms to fight the colonial enemy came from rural areas to which they returned after the war or now live in small urban centres in those areas.

Why not allocate unutilised farms to some of these people to grow more food, particularly wheat the short supply of which has caused prices to keep rising, or to raise cattle for the supply of beef for local consumption and for export to rake in foreign currency badly needed for the country’s economic revival and growth?

After all, these people are adept at the activities just mentioned and which have been part and parcel of all their upbringing.

Secondly, our country is rich in mineral resources such as gold, chrome, asbestos and other strategic minerals that remain buried underground to be exploited.

The armed struggle was fought to enable Zimbabweans to participate fully in the exploitation of the mineral riches that have to a large extent remained exclusively in foreign hands.

It is only proper, therefore that our people have a big stake in the exploitation of these minerals so that their export revenue does not remain in foreign lands for foreign owners with mines to enjoy but that the money from mineral exports by Zimbabweans will no doubt come back home to help develop our nation.

That the political party in power has remained strong, winning by-elections across the country of late is due to the fact that former fighters who are neither in parliament nor in government have played a significant role in keeping the party strong.

Also, these same freedom fighters, though not in the public political limelight as members of parliament or in government must surely be playing a behind-the-scenes role in mobilising the povo against destructive propaganda by foreign powers and their local surrogates and in the process neutralising propaganda machinations against regime change by imperialists who protest land reform by the Zanu-PF government to make the liberated land truly Zimbabwean while still allowing loyal foreigners who recognise blacks as equal beings to continue to work the land they own in Zimbabwe.

In addition, some of the high perks and privileges enjoyed by members of parliament be they former fighters or not, will no doubt go a long way in strengthening the role of freedom fighters now calling for recognition to have a bigger stake in Zimbabwe’s developmental agenda if these are allocated to them.

Above all and perhaps as some kind of emergency, the former liberation fighters mentioned above should be helped YESTERDAY to set up “people’s shops”, as mooted by the highest office in the land, to bring relief to the masses especially in urban areas where businesses are daily raking in exorbitant prices of goods, including food stuffs but without giving their workers enough pay.

These people could be helped with seed money to be repaid as well as infrastructure where possible with obvious guarantees that mass patronage of these shops will enable the new operators to repay money loaned to them in a short space of time.

If the rampant profiteering continues this country might witness untold hunger, malnutrition and diseases by urban dwellers in particular, with little money available for them to pay for expensive medications.

Speed is paramount in sorting out the extortionate prices of goods that are causing Zimbabweans sleepless nights.