BY NIZBERT MOYO /SILAS NKALA/OBERT SIAMILANDU
HEROES’ Day celebrations were poorly attended in Bulawayo and Kariba yesterday, with residents saying the holiday was no longer of significance because government is failing to honour the “real liberators”.
In Kariba, the commemorations were held at Nyamhunga Stadium where a handful of people attended the event.
Kariba district development co-ordinator, Patience Mubango read the Heroes’ Day speech on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Some of the people who attended the event said the problem was that Heroes Day was being politicised by the ruling Zanu PF party. Kariba is an opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) stronghold.
In Bulawayo, people who spoke to NewsDay said the country’s heroes fought for nothing given the rampant violations of people’s freedoms and rights by the Zanu PF government in its bid to consolidate power.
The Bulawayo Heroes’ Day commemorations were held at the Nkulumane provincial Heroes Acre where Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube officiated.
Zipra Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi told NewsDay that Mnangagwa is placing emphasis on Vision 2030, but is failing to take care of the country’s former liberation fighters.
“Poverty is the measurement of war veterans; they are the ones who engineered push carts in the 1980s after they were sidelined. Up to now they are still pushing those push carts to try and earn a living. The graves of the fallen heroes are scattered across the country, and up to now some of these fallen fighters have not been reburied. They are speechifying on pulpits, but are failing to honour their promises to the heroes,” Magwizi said.
He said Zipra war veterans should not be hoodwinked by Mnangagwa who has failed to speak about the fallen heroes from Umkhonto weSizwe who were part of the liberation struggle.
“He does not talk about Jaison Ziyaphapha and Nikita Mangena because he has no business with them and wants to downplay their contributions and those made by Zipra forces. He only mentions Ndabaningi Sithole and James Chikerema,” he said.
The Zipra war veterans also questioned the criteria used in selecting national heroes.
Ibhetshu likaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “It’s unfortunate that the dream for freedom for 42 years has not yet been realised by the masses. We still have several unsung heroes who died and lie in unmarked graves or mass graves. Genuine cadres are wallowing in poverty, while those that are politically connected are benefiting. The true liberators lost their properties and have not yet gotten them back.”
Many Zipra war veterans are concerned that their contributions during the liberation struggle are being downplayed by the Zanu PF government, which seems to be amplifying Zanla roles.