BULAWAYO youths yesterday urged the Zipra Veterans’ Trust to publicise its liberation war contributions, saying they were tired of a one-sided account of the country’s independence history.
The youths said learning a one-sided history of the country that projects Zanla forces as contributing more than Zipra was fermenting hatred and mistrust in the country.
Speaking at the ongoing Ideas Festival interactive meeting organised by National Youth Development Trust, the youths said they had heard that Zipra pioneered the liberation struggle and was a disciplined force.
“Why are we only being taught Mbuya Nehanda and Zanla contribution as if Zipra never existed? We urge the Zipra Trust to publicise their contributions,” one participant said.
“We know that Zipra forces did most of the fighting countrywide, but that is not being said.
“I only knew of Zipra and what they did when I got to university.”
In response, Zipra Trust official Marshal Mpofu said the government confiscated Zipra literature soon after independence.
“It is known that the government confiscated our records, but our war partners Umkhonto Wesizwe of South Africa has some of the records,” he said.
“That history will be revealed and Zipra’s war effort will be known.”
Mpofu said when Zipra’s full history was told, some top politicians would be afraid to appear in public as they were trained by the force, but now denied.
The youths were eager to know about the plight of ex-Zipra combatants amid reports that scores were wallowing in poverty.
They appealed to Zipra officials to have more interactive meetings with them as a way of sharing their liberation war experiences.
Mpofu said scores of Zipra cadres were wallowing in poverty as they were “deliberately sidelined” by the government. During the meeting, several youths expressed concern that they were being marginalised and denied employment opportunities. Vocal Bulawayo activist Patricia Tshabalala warned of instability, claiming youths were worse off now than they were in Rhodesia.
Meanwhile, Zapu official Grace Noko blamed the Zanu PF government for persistent food shortages as vast tracts of land allocated to liberation war fighters during the chaotic land reform were lying idle due to lack of farming skills.
She said beneficiaries should have been trained on best farming methods.
“The government should have embarked on a training programme for war veterans before allocating land to them,” she said.