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War veterans miss golden opportunities to demonstrate remorse

by Justice Benjamin Paradza, President of ZUNDE
18 August 2016

 

It takes a real man to say sorry and accept responsibility for the wrong you have done, especially wrong done to your very own people. This is more than I can say for Douglas Mahiya after reading his interview with The Standard of 7 August 2016 published under the heading “Mahiya shoots from the hip”.

I take issue with a number of the things said in that interview but his responses to the following questions are what struck me most and continue to worry me. Douglas Mahiya

RC: Would you want to apologise for having allowed the situation to come to this?
DM: We would rather request the people to appreciate the efforts that brought independence. If we made mistakes, it was in the process of trying to do something.
We lost the most important part of our life to bring independence. What is important is to embrace each other and move forward.
RC: Given what has happened in the past 36 years, why should Zimbabweans trust you now, given war veterans’ hand in rights abuses?
DM: It was not the war veterans but the government.

His responses are worrying. Firstly, he was not prepared to apologise for the war veterans’ role in the pain that they inflicted on the people starting in 2000 until recently in 2008 when people died for voting against Mugabe. In his words, he would rather request the people to appreciate war veterans’ efforts and the time they lost in bringing about independence. Secondly, he does not acknowledge that they made mistakes. Rather he says, if mistakes were made, they were not worth an apology because the war veterans were trying to do something – whatever that means. Thirdly, he goes further to deny they were involved in any abuse of human rights. He says the blame should go to the government for all the human rights abuse they committed and not to the war veterans.

I am left wondering why the war veterans have made an about turn against Mugabe if they do not accept they had lost their way and had drifted away from the people. Alternatively, is it that Mugabe has cast them out in the cold and their interests are at stake in which event that has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to be on the side of the people? If the people reject them for what they did will they not go back to ZANU PF? Where will they go if they cannot go back to Mugabe?

Let me say it is appalling for the war veterans to continue to demonstrate the same spirit that has brought us as a country where we are today. Their spirit of entitlement, their lack of accountability and their attitude that they did more than everyone else to liberate this country cannot be tolerated. As a fellow comrade I have stuck to our spirit of constructive criticism — the war veterans know what I mean. Mahiya could have done the right thing by accepting responsibility at least on behalf of the war vets and apologise rather than glorify himself for the role we played in the struggle. He forgets that, although we were holding guns, the people themselves were often in much more danger every day while we stayed under cover in the mountains sometimes sleeping waiting for information and food from these same people. The people were doing the patrols and feeding us comrades with food and information that was vital for the prosecution of the war... continued next page

© ZUNDE Inc. 2016

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