FOR 15 years, from 1964 to 1979, a bitter and bloody war was fought in and outside the country as the people calling themselves Zimbabweans today sought the right to vote and access their land which had been usurped by colonial settlers.

Waging the guerrilla armed struggle were the country’s sons and daughters backed by theirs fathers, mothers, grandparents and siblings. Even some among the colonial settlers joined the struggle, offering shelter and clothes to those waging the bush war.

This is contrary to some, especially in Zanu PF, who are distorting the history of the war of liberation to say it was fought only by the surviving war veterans and those who died, we are honouring today. When the armed struggle, which became also known as the Second Chimurenga or Umvukela began, it became increasingly clear that the war would not be won conventionally.

So the “fish in water” concept of the war emerged, whereby the guerrilla war fighters used unarmed civilians as cover, meaning that the unarmed citizens protected them by feeding and clothing them as well as providing logistical and tactical information to help defeat the Rhodesian colonial regime.

However, despite the fact that the war for independence actually started in Matabeleland and that the majority positively participated in the struggle for self-rule, it is quite saddening that the narrative has been distorted to now appear as if only those who had guns liberated this country.

Everyone played their part and both the armed and unarmed sacrificed for Zimbabwe’s independence. Without the help of the unarmed civilians, the war may not have been won and vice-versa. Our late heroes were, therefore, both armed and unarmed.

Consequently, the Heroes Day we commemorate today belongs to all of us and should unite us as a nation. This day should remind us that we are one people who struggled together and should not continue to see each other as enemies simply because we differ in the way we think the country should be governed.

Tragically, those who are raising their voices against rampant corruption, human rights abuses and lawlessness are now being accused of selling out the ideals of the liberation struggle by those who are monopolising the gains of the Second Chimurenga.

And it is also quite disheartening that those among us who survived the bush war, the war veterans, appear wont to holding the nation to ransom by keeping on demanding to be compensated for their role in the struggle.

This is the sad reality simply because there are many among the ruling elite who have decided to selfishly loot national resources through corruption, human rights abuses and lawlessness.

If all of us remember that the majority of people played an important role in the independence struggle, we should all benefit from the country’s resources such as land and minerals, then there would be no problem in uniting to remember those who perished fighting for freedom from colonial bondage.

The widening gap between the filthy rich ruling elite and the ordinary Zimbabweans wallowing in abject poverty is one of the major reasons why people are shunning celebrating Heroes Day because it now appears as if our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandfathers and mothers died in vain.

We can only honour those who died freeing this country by respecting our Constitution and arresting all such vices as corruption, human rights abuses and lawlessness that are dividing us as a people.

Source Newsday