War Veterans have lost their relevance

By Tariro

In the not so distant past the nation watched in shock as our high esteemed war veterans were on the receiving end of the police baton stick. Shock because since the time they were awarded the then Zimbabwe dollar $50000 equivalent to USD $5000 in 1998 we knew not of their existence. This money in my view was hush money because apparently they wanted to know what had happened to their compensation fund.  So hush money it was they were so mum the silence was deafening.

As patrons of the liberation struggle as the situation in Zimbabwe became the talk in the world,they should have been the first to put their feet down and demand answers. As the men and women who sacrificed their chance to go to school and instead bore the weight of military machinery so that the next generation would taste a life that is rid of racism, discrimination,slavery and colonialism, they should have been the first voice to raise alarm as Zimbabwe was brought to its knees. But alas their camp what so quiet the only sound one could be lucky to hear coming from there was the sound of crickets.

As the ordinary person in Zimbabwe struggles to make ends meet and labours to put food on the table, our beloved war vets were  awarded an opportunity to question our leaders to say is this what we went into struggle for? To see black upon black colonialism? To see the ordinary folk being silenced in exercising their democratic right of free speech? To see sustainability being a farce? To see moral decay being the norm? To see Zimbabwe become a nation dependent on others for food aid yet it was once a nation that lacked for nothing? To see the abnormal being normalised.

This opportunity presented itself when the President afforded them a chance to air their grievances and reasons for their disgruntlement (if any). An opportunity I feel they let go down the murky drain when instead of being the representatives of the general populace, they undertook a selfish approach and gave a litany of demands or better yet an Aladdin’s wishlist of what they expected to be improved in their ministry. Demands that only would benefit them and not the larger population of Zimbabweans groaning under the results of gross mismanagement and corruption.

An opportunity had presented itself for them to ask the question that is on every sane Zimbabwean’s tongue…WHERE IS THE USD $15 BILLION?? The same manner in which they were able to question their then compensation fund in 1997 should be the same manner they questioned about the elusive USD $15 billion. A question they have a justifiable right to ask as the people who after great sacrifice dismantled the Smith regime. In my view they had the locus standi to do so but instead chose to be so predictable and instead thwart an opportunity that even I as an ordinary person in Zimbabwe wish I had. Imagine being given the President’s ear for just a minute, how I would have given an arm and a limb for such a rare opportunity.

We all want to know where the USD$15 billion of mining revenues is seeing as if this money is accounted for maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about evading drum holes in our roads, buying ex Japanese cars, waking up at 3 am as  vendors to set up shop on the already crowded streets, anticipate the revival of the slumber enchanted industrial sites and as a young person be able to trade my labour  in a justifiable manner and not worry for our children seeing as there is nothing left for us what more shall be left for them?

As a young person I cannot help but feel let down by our war veterans. That was a golden opportunity that should have been about asking the pertinent questions of where Zimbabwe is going, what is being done about the ailing economy and the alarming pinnacles of poverty. The goose will never lay that golden egg again.

All this time they were quiet,but when they felt what it was like to be the ordinary person and bore the brunt of the police baton, only then do they decide to rear their ugly head and make some noise. Noise in my view that is too little too late. My advice to them is that they just have to join the bandwagon that is ordinary folk and realise that the privilege they thought they had is history. As they await annual meetings of that nature with His Excellency for example in 2017 may they open their eyes and look around them so that they have valid talking points instead of demanding medical treatment abroad and  demanding scholarships for their children. They should not turn a blind eye to the obvious.

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