Former freedom fighter and Home Affairs minister — Dumiso Dabengwa — has warned war veterans against taking sides with politicians at the expense of their values which he said have been demeaned.
Dabengwa was speaking at Lady Stanley Cemetery where he was a guest of honour at the tombstone unveiling of former freedom fighter Philemon Ncube Mabuza.
Mabuza was a Zapu activist who took part in the war operations of the 1960s.
“The year 2016 will be remembered as the year in which those who have ears to hear finally understand that a repressive political system is like a double-edged razor-blade that cuts in all directions,” Dabengwa told the gathering.
“It will cut even the most vicious eventually when they oppose aspects or specific practices of the ruling clique. Those who have been used to vilify their own comrades have been treated like used tissue paper that can be thrown away at will.
“I hope that these lessons are taken very seriously so that we can have a political order that does not seek to make and unmake people’s heroism at will. Liberation heroes should not accept to be moved back and forth from heroes to villains and vice versa,” he added.
Dabengwa spoke as President Robert Mugabe’s fall-out with the war veterans resulted in them boycotting this year’s Heroes Day celebrations across the country.
The former freedom fighters ended their long-time relationship with their patron after growing disillusioned.
Mugabe has not taken kindly their divorce and launched a brutal crackdown against the war veterans’ leadership.
Dabengwa paid tribute to Mabuza whom he said contributed immensely to the liberation struggle but was overlooked from being buried at the National Heroes Acre.
“The timing of today’s commemoration of ... Mabuza is very symbolic because on this day (August 8) Zimbabwe is observing the national Heroes Day,” said Dabengwa.
“However, it is easy to devalue the true meaning of ‘heroes’ when the criteria for official designation as a hero are not uniformly applied.
“It is not a nice thing to disrespect the memory of those who may be wrongly designated for heroism they never showed or have not been convincingly documented to have.
“Worse still, when highly-deserving cases like Mabuza are omitted in the designation of ‘heroes’, it is difficult to avoid mentioning that there are many less-deserving cases that are today either at the National Heroes Acre or in the provincial resting places for heroes,” Dabengwa added.
The Zapu leader paid tribute to former freedom fighters whose remains are interred at Lady Stanley describing them as loyal cadres who gave everything for their country.
“In Lady Stanley today we are in the company of other heroes like Lookout Masuku, Richard ‘Gedi’ Dube, Amos ‘Jack’ Ngwenya, and others who could not pass the test of political correctness of the Zanu PF establishment who define heroism by loyalty to a current political leadership,” said Dabengwa.
“Others like Thenjiwe Lesabe are buried elsewhere but their memory is better kept clean than being tainted by vetting in the hands of undeserving judges of political worthiness.
“A ceremony like this gives us a chance to put a brick in the wall of remembrance to help keep sacred sacrifices that no political hanky-panky can permanently obscure.
“Dr Joshua Nkomo put it eloquently at the funeral of Lookout Masuku in this same ground in Lady Stanley when he pointed out that heroes are not made by declarations but their own deeds.” daily news