THE Second Republic has rolled out brand new set of wheels to surviving members of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla) High Command as President Mnangagwa’s government continues to recognise efforts and sacrifices of former freedom fighters.
The veterans from the two liberation military wings were each gifted with top of the range Ford Ranger Wildtrak vehicles and cash as part of ongoing benefits meant to appreciate their sacrifices. A total of 18 war veterans benefited with 11 from ZPRA, the military wing of PF Zapu during the war. Zanla was the military wing of Zanu-PF. The ZPRA list was made up of former Vice-President, Cde Phelekezela Mphoko, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Cabinet Minister, Colonel (Retired) Tshinga Dube, Colonel (Retired) Thomas Ngwenya, Brigadier-General (Retired) Tjile Dubhu Nleya who served as ZPRA Deputy Commander to the late National hero General Lookout Mafela Masuku, Cde Jack Mpofu, Cde Benoni Dube, Cde Conary Gava, Cde Jeffrey Ndlovu (Kenneth Murwira), Cde Peter Ndebele (Toddy Mpisi) and Brigadier-General (Retired) Abel Mazinyane.
The vehicles and the cash are reportedly the first batch of a number of honours which President Mnangagwa has promised the former freedom fighters, with more expected to benefit. The President has also assisted widows of some of the liberation stalwarts to improve their lives and recently met Mrs Sikhubekiso Madeya Mangena, widow to former ZPRA commander Alfred Nikita Mangena. Government also gave State -assisted funerals to Mrs Janet Banana, widow to former Prime Minister Canaan Banana, as well as Mrs Zodwa Dabengwa, widow to former ZPRA supremo and cabinet minister Cde Dumiso Dabengwa.
In separate interviews, the former commanders paid gratitude to President Mnangagwa saying it was an honour that his government continued to reward them for their roles in the liberation struggle. Col (Rtd) Dube, who was ZPRA Chief of Military Communications, said the recognition delighted them as it showed that they had not been forgotten. He said President Mnangagwa was living up to his mantra of leaving no one and no place behind, noting that it was an honour for the highest office in the land to give them such recognition.
“We finished this journey of liberating the country in 1980 and for the President to then come 43 years later and continue honouring us is quite a humbling feeling as it shows that we have not been forgotten. The President has been preaching the gospel that under the Second Republic no one will be left behind and this gesture has shown that he is surely living up to his words and walking the talk,” said Col (Rtd) Dube.
Col (Rtd) Ngwenya, who was ZPRA Chief of Transport and Logistics, said the fact that this was the first of its kind since 1980 showed that President Mnangagwa was genuine in honouring their contribution to the liberation of the country.
“They called us in May where we tabled our requests, in terms of how the Government can assist us, which then culminated in the meeting we had with the President last Friday, where he gave us these cars and he also committed to also look at the items that we had requested. All the same, I personally feel that we have the people that we commanded, they also deserve something but I am sure the Government is also looking at that. Overally, we do appreciate this gesture by President Mnangagwa especially considering that since 1980 as the High Command from the two wings we have never been met by the highest office in the land. This really shows the genuine nature which our President exhibits,” said Col (Rtd) Ngwenya.
Cde Ndlovu, the former ZPRA Adjutant-General and later Chief of Engineering who lost his sight in combat when he was hit by a landmine near the Zambezi River in October 1979, could not hide his excitement, saying President Mnangagwa was a truly progressive President.
“This began around January this year but unfortunately, I was out of the country. When I returned, I met with representatives from the government and we were told to draw up a personal wish list, of which I drafted mine, which was sent to the President. We were then called to Harare last week but were not told what the agenda was. On a Friday morning that was 15 July around 7.30 am we went to State House, as surviving members of the high commands from the two military wings, where we met the President who gave us these cars and some cash, he told us that for now he was giving us these while they work on our other requests.
“For me this is progression and a noble gesture from the President which we highly appreciate and thank the President for. It also came at a time when the nation will soon be commemorating our Heroes Day and goes to show that both the government and the President have not forgotten the journey we took in liberating our nation,” said Cde Ndlovu.
The gesture comes after President Mnangagwa a couple of weeks ago met surviving members of ZPRA and ZANLA high commands. The meeting was the first of its kind between a Head of State and members of the two military wings’ surviving members of the high command since the country attained its independence in 1980. Furthermore, the President Mnangagwa led government has been honouring families of some pioneering members of the liberation struggle. The generality of the war veterans are also getting monthly allowances and other benefits that include school fees for their children.
Presidential spokesperson and deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mr George Charamba is on record as saying President Mnangagwa’s meeting with liberation heroes and surviving families of those who have died speaks to his pledge to engage with surviving members of families of late freedom fighters.
After the President met with the Mangena family in May, Mr Charamba said the move was not going to end with the Mangena family as the Second Republic shows gratitude to families of the revered freedom fighters.
“But also, he is focusing on the command element of the two liberation movements — ZPRA and ZANLA. This is why in Mount Darwin during the Independence Day celebrations, the Government, on the President’s instruction, invited surviving members of the high command in both ZPRA and ZANLA to the event. And this will be the practice in future State occasions, surviving members of the High Command and General Staff will now be invited. This is a gesture of gratitude for their service,” said Mr Charamba.