TODAY Zimbabweans from all walks of life will take time to cherish and remember gallant sons and daughters of the soil who paid the ultimate price in fighting for the independence of this country from colonial subjugation.
Heroes’ Day is not only meant to commemorate the sacrifices of departed freedom fighters but is also an opportunity to celebrate the lives of those sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who fought in the liberation struggle but are still among us.
Despite the best efforts of Government to look after war veterans, their plight remains dire with most of them living in poverty more than three decades after independence. Their pensions, which were first granted in 1997 and periodically reviewed over the years, have been eroded by inflation and most of them are failing to live off them. The Ministry of Defence and War Veterans’ Welfare is seized with ways to assist war veterans with various projects lined up to improve their plight.
We urge the Government to continue looking after veterans of the liberation struggle because of the important role they played in the attainment of independence. In the same vein, we appeal to the former freedom fighters to remain loyal to the values and ethos of the struggle and refuse to be shaken by a passing phase of economic difficulties which are symptomatic of the birth pangs of a new economy.
As stockholders of the country’s independence, they have a duty to defend Zimbabwe from its detractors and their important role in this regard has been recognised by Government which has designated them as a reserve force and part and parcel of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
This year’s Heroes’ Day comes as the country is transitioning from First to the Second Republic with President Mnangagwa — a decorated war veteran — at the helm of the country. It is important to note that ex-freedom fighters were part of the historic events of November 2017 when Zimbabweans rose in unison and vociferously backed a smooth transfer of power from former President Robert Mugabe to a New Dispensation.
War veterans did not only march in solidarity with Zimbabweans when the army intervened to weed out criminal elements around Cde Mugabe, they were heavily involved in mobilising thousands of protestors who thronged Highfields Grounds in Harare to call for the removal of the former President.
They have a stake in Operation Restore Legacy which was led by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and helped preserve the gains of independence by ensuring that the ruling Zanu-PF party did not sully its legacy by allowing criminals to dictate its succession plan.
We therefore salute their role and urge them to remain loyal to their Commander in Chief. On Friday, President made a special address to the nation to mark his first year in office.
In his speech, the President said the ongoing “painful but necessary reforms” by the new administration are set to deliver sustainable jobs, economic stability, growth and development. “On the economic front, painful but necessary reforms have been made in the year that has gone by.
“The multi-currency regime, which ran from 2009, has now given way to reforms towards a national currency whose value is determined by the market,” said the President.
“The multi-currency regime had eroded our export drive thus hurting our recovery efforts. Through this key reform, and the operationalisation of an open market in all spheres, we have geared our economy for a major transformation underpinned by greater efficiencies, fair value and secure property rights. While the beginning may be painful, the medium to long run will deliver more jobs, economic stability, growth and development.”
President Mnangagwa said notwithstanding the upheaval inherent in transitioning from old policies to new policies, the country has to brace for a bright future.
Positive signs such as the country’s new found ability to generate more revenues and contain its expenses and the continued re-engagement with the international community had become noticeable recorded during the past year, he added.
“We are on the right path and our ambitious vision is within grasp. We continue to engage international financial institutions and creditor nations so we unlock more inputs towards our full recovery.
“The ongoing discussions with our creditors are promising, with our Staff Monitored Programme with the International Monetary Fund proceeding remarkably well. For the first time in decades, Government has been able to balance its books and to even enjoy a healthy surplus. This points to good stewardship of public affairs, itself a prerequisite for normalising relations with international financial institutions and creditor nations.”
As the country commemorates Heroes’ Day, we urge Zimbabweans to remain resolute, calm and patient as Government implements its economic revival strategy. Times may be hard now but a bright future beckons.
To the war veterans, may they remain the loyal vanguard of the revolution and protect the country’s hard won independence from any threats both internally and externally.