Sunday, February 07, 2010
by Busani Ncube
THE Weekly Agenda of 30 January – 5 February 2010 – an in house publication of the MDC –T aligned civic group – Bulawayo Agenda had an interesting but shocking headline story titled – War Vets defy ZANU PF directive.
The story’s main source was Bulawayo Province war veterans leader Themba Ncube and some document with “resolutions” to the effect that the association has decided to attend a congress scheduled to take place at Border Gezi Training Centre on January 29 in Mutare, in contravention of a directive issued by the ZANU PF.
The directive advising the ex-combatants was broadcast on ZBC TV1 recently. One of the resolutions cited by the paper was that the ex-combatants want a Cabinet post to cater for their interests.
Said Ncube, “There should be a Cabinet post for war veterans……the office should be manned by a war veteran recommended by the association and this should include offices countrywide.”
I seek to argue in this article that having a war ‘vets’ minister would be tantamount to reversal of the much vaunted values, goals and gains of the liberation struggle of our fatherland and indeed a complete reversal of the founding principles of our nation.
I raise this argument today not for any foul purpose. I have high respect of the sons and daughters who freed this country from the jaws of imperial exploitation, abuse, thuggery and colonization. Without them, this country would still be languishing in abject oppression and denial of many freedoms.
However, creating an ex-combatants ministry would be too excessive and
inconsiderate a move, if not totally selfish in light of the fact that there are many special interests groups that will cry over such a ministry.
The Zimbabwe Ex- Political Prisoner and Restrictees Association will also want a ministry of their own. The Chiefs will cry for same. The Zimbabwe War Collaborators Association and indeed the Children of War Veterans Association will cry for the same.
Already, the disabled want to be a stand-alone ministry and not to be bundled under the social welfare umbrella as is presently the case.
Our country is undergoing economic recovery after being crushed by political matters and illegal sanctions imposed on us by western war mongers.
The treasury is looking at all directions for financial aid and at this point in time, having an “extra burden” of a ministry whose intended beneficiaries are already covered by a certain structure will be counter-productive and hence such a call is counter revolutionary to the resuscitation of our socio-economic and political fabric.
Comrades, I submit further that it does not make any sketch of fiscal sense to just have a ministry for ex-combatants at this time of the year- especially after the budget has been made and some funds have already been allocated and used by existing ministries.
We do not have time to even toy around the issue of having the ministry in future because simple common sense dictates that war vets are not going to be there forever. Naturally, the number of war vets does not have a single chance of extending; we expect it to dwindle as age goes on and death takes its course.
Without any measure of contempt for the role of the ex-combatants today, it is also a naked fact that the war veterans belong to a yester-year era and they have been hugely thanked for the noble and brave job they did then while monthly gratuities to sustain their living are flowing to their bank accounts to date.
So what will the ministry do? How will the ministry relate with other ministries, in the unpopular event that is put in place?
I further argue that war veterans are already fully represented in Zimbabwe and there is no need for the creation of a specific ministry because almost three quarters of members of Zanu PF Central Committee and most of the party’s Politburo are war veterans. More than half of the present cabinet ministers are war veterans.
Even “His Excellency the President and First Secretary of ZANU PF and Commander in Chief of the Defence Force and Chancellor of All Universities in the land” Cde Robert Mugabe is a war veteran.
Are the ex-combatants alleging that ZANU PF and the President have failed them? I view their resolution as being in contempt of the honourable office of the President and structures that Government has put in place to cater for their needs.
More so, and even strangely to mention, the choice of media outlet and modus operandi used by the war veterans to vent out their foul ideal is shocking.
The use of a civic society mouthpiece or megaphone whose governing principals are part of a demon possessed team of lost Zimbabweans that urged the imposition of illegal sanctions against the people by western war mongers defies logic and only depicts who is behind this whole un-progressive idea.
The Government of National Unity should thus dismiss the whole thing as a joke; which is not even funny.
The hullaballoo about the war veterans wanting a ministry of their won brings the writer to the issue of who is a hero in our country.
I raise this matter because there is a bad tendency by ex-combatants to think that they have a monopoly of deciding such matters on the grounds of whether or not a person fought in the liberation struggle; how they fought, for how long and was where, amongst other considerations.
My humble submission, comrades, is that there is a world of difference between a war veteran and a national hero, though a war veteran can be a national hero.
A national hero is a person who did an outstanding and or heroic act for the benefit of the country in any field of operation whereas in the Zimbabwean context, a hero is a former soldier in the liberation struggle that ended in 1979. There is nothing more to that.
A lot of our sons and daughters now qualify to be heroes even though they did not carry any M16, and or AK 47 gun. Notable examples are – Peter Ndlovu, Nigel Chanakira, Oliver Mtukudzi, Kirsty Coventry, Shacky Tauro and indeed our own Barnabas Sibanda who created his helicopter.
I rest my case by urging the leadership of the noble war veterans grouping to revisit their renegade stance of lobbying for a ministry because that will only serve to soil the image that our leaders in the Government of National Unity have created so far.
We have many priorities in this country like writing a new constitution, finishing projects like the “new” National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and campaigning for the lifting of illegal sanctions.
Our unity of purpose in this collective rebuilding revolution will take us to a better and progressive nation. Aluta Continua!
Busani Ncube is a freelance journalist now based in Bulawayo. He can be contacted at ncube.busani **** gmail.com