Hildegarde The Arena
“We are war veterans ourselves. These two gentlemen you have here (Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko) have been gunholders. You can call them ‘vana bhombadhiya’ (bombardiers). And you find this situation even in the police force. “We have people who have been outside fighting who are war veterans – the army, the intelligence, the security department, in the civil service. We find them also now in their homes retired. Some are farmers, in industries, some are intellectuals in universities.”
That was President Mugabe, while addressing the nation last Friday, on the eve of his 92nd birthday.
He touched on a number of issues, but the central one being the disunity and the seeming lack of ideological direction among some senior Zanu-PF party leaders.
During the address, President Mugabe also took aim at some Youth League members when he said: “Imi zvamave kuita vadiki vedu, siyanai nembanje dzenyu. Zvokutuka vakuru nemazwi akadzama hatizvide. Zvikandei pasi! Zvikandei pasi! Zvikandei pasi!”
One could not miss the emphasis in the President’s call for discipline and respect among the youths, who are supposed to be the vanguard of the revolutionary party, not only towards elders, but Zimbabwe’s war veterans.
This was seen as a direct reprimand of the ZANU-PF Youth League Deputy Secretary Kudzi Chipanga who on Tuesday last week dared the war veterans to a fight, as he labelled them “sickening rabble-rousers”.
Chipanga brazenly challenged the heroes and heroines of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle saying, “If we (the youths) say let us go to war today, how many war veterans are there? They are very few. We (the youths) constitute 65 percent of this country . . . So be ready and we are going to call you when the time comes . . . They are not going to do anything. We will give them a 100-metre race and they will fail to run. They are sick with sugar (diabetes) (sic).”
Pathetic and shameful though this was, Chipanga demonstrated the ideological bankruptcy and lack of direction that we have seen among some in Zanu-PF, including some party heavy weights.
The insults by Chipanga also raise more questions than answers. How do branches, districts and provinces select people into positions of leadership, especially when we have the party’s national youth leader spewing such venom against men and women who sacrificed all in order for the likes of Chipanga and his ilk to not only have a good education in an independent Zimbabwe, but to also dream to be tomorrow’s leaders?
What criteria are being used if someone so bereft of ideological foundation, vision and direction is chosen to lead the youths in a revolutionary party such as Zanu-PF?
What is going on?
How can someone whose mindset is no different from misguided youths in the MDC who told war veterans, “Endai mundoisungirira nyika pamakaisunungura, tigoenda tigondoisunungura”, be allowed to lead young people at such a high level?
The other question that begs is what or who gives Chipanga that confidence to say what he said last week, including threatening The Herald newspaper? How many like-minded youths – youths that want to fight war veterans – are there in Zanu-PF?
Talk is cheap, especially when Chipanga’s colleagues only spoke days after his statement. Did President Mugabe have to publicly announce that he is a war veteran? Was it necessary?
Now that Chipanga knows that President Mugabe is a war veteran, will he dare him also, because insulting any freedom fighter (dead or alive) is no different from insulting the President himself?
The dog fights that we continue to see in the ruling Zanu-PF are a pointer that while they are still deeply entrenched in village politics, fighting for bread- crumbs, President Mugabe on January 31 demonstrated that he is way ahead of them in terms of vision.
Not only is he the giant of Zimbabwe, but he is also Africa’s point man, whose deep understanding of the continent’s issues is way above the petty politics that has made it difficult for Zimbabwe to move on after the 2013 harmonised elections.
If the thousands that received him at the Harare International Airport really support the cause that he has stood for all his life, then they would realise that they are the stumbling block to Zimbabwe and Africa’s developmental goals, especially the AU’s Agenda 2063.
President Mugabe spent about two minutes doing slogans, and his slogans were not for Zimbabwe per se, but for Africa as a whole: a united Africa, Pan-Africanism, the youths and women of Africa, protecting Africa against enemy forces, and ensuring that Africa’s wealth is for its people, first and foremost.
He knew about the factional fights when he addressed people at the airport, but he did not want that to dampen his buoyed spirits as he gave a brief about the summit and his handing over the AU chairmanship:
“Kana ini handisati ndamboona zvakadaro. Vese, kumwanduka, kusimuka. MaPresident vese, vanga varipo, kuombera. A-a-a-a-a-h! (When he got a standing ovation during his address.)
“Saka hezvo, Zimbabwe yapamusoro-soro! Asi ndakati, tirambe takabatana muAfrica, nokuti kubatana kwakaunza rusununguko kwatiri. Kubatana, kwakati tizove neOAU yava African Union nhasi.
“Ndikavaudza kubatana kwaivepo tichibatsirwa isu nenyika dzakasiyana-siyana, vanaNigeria, vanaTanzania, zvichidaro. Ndikati nanhasi tinotenda kubatsirwa kwatakaitwa ikoko. Hatikanganwe.”
In that address President Mugabe also warned against divisiveness in Zanu-PF saying in part: “Takataurawo nenyaya yemayouth, dzemadzimai, kuti dzirambe dzakasimbirirwa. Tamboti mayouth ndivo vagari venhaka. Ngavapihwe gwanza rokuti vasununguke … Ngatibatanei! Ngatibatanei! Zveumbimbindoga tombokanda pasi. Zvemafactions tombozvisvipira pasi. Mayouth edu ngaabatane. Ngaarege kuuya nokufuririka, kana kufurirwa. Vave nendangariro yokuti nyika ndiyo yatinoda kuti ititungamirire. Kana ndichiti nyika, ndiri kureva huzhinji hwevanhu – our nation. Zvido zvevanhu!”
But as it were, President Mugabe was probably speaking to a few people who understand what Zimbabwe’s leadership position in Africa and beyond means.
It is worth reminding Chipanga and like-minded people that the liberation struggle is not a figment of people’s fertile imaginations.
During one of the many radio addresses he made on Voice of Maputo/Voice of Zimbabwe politicising and boosting the fighters’ morale, Cde Mugabe spoke of the meaning of the revolutionary struggle:
“When in April 1966, the people of Zimbabwe decided to launch the armed struggle and the first group of our seven ZANLA fighters fought the famous Sinoia (now Chinhoyi) Battle, they resolved, once and for all, to free themselves totally from the savage and oppressive rule of the settler imperialists.
“This decision, accordingly, marked a qualitative transformation as much in objective as indeed in the means henceforth to be employed in the pursuit of the goal of freedom and independence.” (From: “Robert Mugabe: Our War of Liberation”)
The war veterans might mistakenly be in the state that Chipanga described, but if he also listens to Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu’s Chimurenga hit song, “Kure Kachana”, then he will understand once again that talk is cheap. Getting to where we are, with President Mugabe celebrating his 92nd birthday was no easy walk.
Chipanga insulted us all!