Buhera South Member of Parliament Joseph Chinotimba says there is need to distinguish true war veterans from the rest because even sellouts during the Ian Smith regime were war veterans.
Contributing to the motion on the criteria for the conferment of heroes’ status, Chinotimba said: “When we talk of war veterans, people should not refer to us only. Even during the Smith regime, there were war veterans. Sellouts were war veterans. Mr. Speaker Sir, there are categories of war veterans who participated in our liberation struggle.
“People should understand the war veterans who are referred to in the War Veterans Act. Those are the people who sacrificed their families to go and join the liberation struggle for this country to enjoy a black majority rule. Even those who were trained here in Zimbabwe were not left out.”
Chinotimba said true heroes were the ones that raised the Zimbabwean flag high. One did not necessarily have to have fought in the liberation struggle only.
“There is a hero (who) fought against these sanctions, even if you were to stand up and denounce sanctions, you will be a hero,” he said.
Chinotimba said one did not have to belong to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front to be a national hero. He cited the example of Edgar Tekere who left ZANU-PF to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement but now lies at Heroes’ Acre and said Zimbabwe African People’s Union leader Dumiso Dabengwa was a hero.
“Dabengwa is a war veteran, he is a hero. There is no question about it,” he said.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I rise to make my contribution on a motion that was moved by Honourable Misihairabwi-Mushonga about war veterans and the criteria of heroes’ status conferment at the National Heroes Acre. The hon. member moved a very painful motion which makes those who hear it cry although she was digressing here and there because of political parties’ affiliations. Otherwise, the way she moved the motion regarding war veterans and the national heroes’ status was good.
It is true that war veterans should be accorded respect. War veterans families should be respected, not only those whom we know but from people like the late Cde Chitepo. Those were war veterans but all those who started the liberation struggle, were war veterans. I am referring to people who started the liberation war in places like Chinhoyi and other areas; those people should be treated with respect.
If Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s sentiments were from the bottom of her heart, that she wants war veterans’ issues to be dealt with, we are happy with that. But I want to make it clear that war veterans have got categories. There are those who were the first to participate in the liberation struggle, then those who participated at the end of the liberation struggle and the commanders. Mr. Speaker, the War Veterans Commander right now is His Excellency, the President. You find when the President speaks; we forget that he is also a war veteran. People speak as if they do not know that President Mugabe is a very bold person. He looks after people despite the fact that some are dying; he remains resolute and soldiers on, rallying to us to continue.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the way these opposition parties speak about the President, they do not show respect. They do not appreciate the great job done by the President. It is true that the definition of war veterans is now outlined clearly in the new Constitution. When we talk of war veterans, people should not refer to us only. Even during the Smith regime, there were war veterans. Sellouts were war veterans. Mr. Speaker Sir, there are categories of war veterans who participated in our liberation struggle. People should understand the war veterans who are referred to in the War Veterans Act. Those are the people who sacrificed their families to go and join the liberation struggle for this country to enjoy a black majority rule. Even those who were trained here in Zimbabwe were not left out.
Mr. Speaker, I know Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s birth certificate was taken by war veterans when she was vying for a councilor’s seat here in Harare. She was fuming saying that war veterans should not have been given money, that is when we started to hear about Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga. Her birth certificate was taken away for not respecting the war veterans.
I am saying this is a very good motion. The people of Zimbabwe voted in the Constitution that we should have more war veteran categories. We now have War Veteran 1, those who fought in the liberation struggle; War Veteran 2, Mujibha and Chimbwido (war collaborators); War Veteran 3, the ex detainees. All these people are now war veterans. It is a way of appreciating their efforts during the liberation struggle. What Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga does not know is that the Smith regime who used to burn our houses including the hon. member’s mother’s house – because all these people had to go and stay in protected areas. The people who abused our mothers by putting them in keeps are still being paid.
Zimbabwe is paying millions of dollars to Europe, paying Smith’s soldiers. We fought in the liberation struggle but were not benefiting and that is when we decided to start this issue of grants because Smith’s soldiers are getting pensions. We did the same like what she did to carry out a research on why we were not getting pensions. That is when we went into the streets saying we are just the same as Smith’s soldiers. People started saying that the war veterans have killed the economy because of the grants but those who are getting pensions whilst they are in Europe, are still getting their pensions.
Mr. Speaker, it is very painful that our late hero Edson Sithole was picked up from Ambassador. The people who abducted him are still alive and are on Government’s pay roll because they were in the police force, though they are outside the country. Some are in Australia and others are in South Africa because of the hand of reconciliation which was extended by our President – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection.] – In Shona, the word honourable is referred to as ‘Va’. Mr. Speaker Sir, I was pleased to hear hon. members debating about the good work that the war veterans did. I do not think the war veterans will ever fail to access school fees for their children because this august House would assist us. It is not only school fees that war veterans need but they also need money for their well-being, since the paltry $100 they are receiving whilst in the communal home is inadequate.
War veterans were asking me whether the mover of the motion, Hon. Misihairabwi – Mushonga would want them to join her party or not. Myself, as the commander of the war veterans, am pleased with the motion but I would want to stress to her that there is no war veteran who would join her party. As war veterans, we have the War Veterans Association and there are war veterans in general. The war veterans in general are found in ZANU PF, MDC, MDC T, MDC Renewal Team, et cetera but those from the War Veterans Association can never follow any other party. Nowadays, they give themselves names; there is the Renewal Team, the Gumburas et cetera, genuine war veterans will never follow that.
Mr. Speaker Sir, on the issue of heroes, when this country attained independence, I heard everyone saying that they were all card carrying members of ZANU PF. During that time, there were such political parties such as the UANC, ZAPU and ZANU Ndonga and ZANU PF. Later on, ZANU PF and ZAPU united, all other parties fell into oblivion. Only ZANU Ndonga survived. The current leader of the MDC, Mr. Tsvangirayi was at one time a ZANU PF card carrying member. To date, he has this card.
MR. MUTSEYAMI: On a point of order. Hon. Chinotimba must note that I as Prosper Mutseyami never held a ZANU PF card. I have never been a member of ZANU PF and that must be put on record. Therefore, he is not correct – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Mutseyami, there is no point of order.
MR. MAHLANGU: Mr. Speaker Sir, the hon. member must withdraw the statement which he made saying that President Tsvangirayi has a ZANU PF card – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mahlangu, Mr. Chinotimba said that at one time Mr. Tsvangirayi was a ZANU PF card carrying member – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]
MR. MAHLANGU: Mr. Speaker Sir, the hon. member said Mr. Tsvangirayi still has the ZANU PF card.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. member, what is your point of order.
*MS. MPARIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, you are aware that Mr. Tsvangirayi is not a member of this august House, furthermore, you are aware that the rules do not allow us to mention names of non-members in our debates since such members do not have a right to be heard in this House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order.
*MS. MPARIWA: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that Mr. Chinotimba is a new member of this House but we should be knowledgeable about the rules of this House. It is not permissible to mention Mr. Tsvangirayi’s name because he has no right of response and it is against the rules. I urge Hon. Chinotimba to withdraw his statement. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, may you desist from mentioning names of people who have no right of response in this House.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. If we do not mention names of outsiders, this august House ceases to be Parliament. In Parliament, we mention the Chinese, if that is the case, then Parliament should not mention anyone who has no right to be heard. Be that as it may, let me proceed. Mr. Speaker, I have heard your ruling, the motion is on war veterans, some of whom are not in this House, for example, the likes of Dumiso Dabengwa who are not in this august House. Mr. Speaker enlighten me, are we debating on war veterans who are in this House or those who are at large? Let me pursue the issue of conferment of national heroes status. I was explaining that from the inception of the National Heroes Acre, that is where I was saying that as a result of one party that was there since 1985 until 2000 where we now have several other parties. Since then, we have seen the advent of challenges to the conferment of heroes status on certain individuals. The same cannot be said about this culture of resistance to the declaration of heroes status. These days there is polarisation to the extent that people now shun attending the burial of even those that deserve national heroes status. I do not know why there is this resistance because they know that they do not deserve heroes status.
I would urge the people to go the heroes acre with the same unity of purpose as was exhibited during our football visit to Zambia. Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga visited the national shrine on two or three occasions but I believe that someone has since mislead her into believing that she should not go to the heroes acre. She used to go despite being controlled, until she then joined Prof. Ncube who saw that it is wise to receive tractors. They are now looking for land that was taken by the same war veterans. Of course she may have people who she believes were overlooked for national heroes status, we leave that to His Excellency, Comrade Mugabe.
It is incorrect to say that if someone has left ZANU PF they are no longer eligible for national heroes status. A case in point is the late Edgar Tekere who lies at the national shrine despite the fact that he left ZANU PF. We should not be dabbling in witchcraft, for someone was prophesying the death of Dabengwa and questioning as to whether he would be a candidate for interment at the national shrine.
Dabengwa is a war veteran, he is a hero. There is no question about it. We should not wish for the death of someone so as to find out what their status would be. There are those that abandoned the liberation struggle. The heroes that are being mentioned should learn from us because we remain constant unlike those that vacillate from one political party to the other.
True heroes are the ones that raise the Zimbabwean flag high. One does not necessarily have to have fought in the liberation struggle only. There is a hero fought against these sanctions, even if you were to stand up and denounce sanctions, you will be a hero. Since you are in Parliament, you do not have heroes. It is the ruling party which has heroes. Once you assume power you will then have your own heroes. Thank you.