By Patrick Guramatunhu- “Disgruntled liberation war veterans have drawn daggers against President Emerson Mnangagwa accusing him of betraying them,” reported Bulawayo 24.
“The easily irritable former freedom fighters say by failing to give the ex-combatants a meaningful pension.
“At least nine war veterans were arrested by police last week after they gathered at Finance minister Mthuli Nucbe’s office demanding an increase to their monthly pensions.”
The problem with most of the war veterans, at least the vocal ones who have taken centre stage the last 41 years, is they have no common sense. None!
Zimbabwe’s economy has been in total meltdown for decades and the decline started soon after independence 41 years ago. Where I say the war veterans have no common sense is because they, with all the benefit of 41 years of hindsight, still believe in the Zanu PF lie of delivering mass prosperity, “Gutsa ruzhinji!” as Mugabe never tire of saying it in the 1980s.
Soon after independence, Gutsa ruzhinji encompassed all Zimbabwe from the Zanu PF ruling elite at the top of the social packing order, to the intelligentsia and professional, the war veterans and semi-skilled workers, the unskilled workers and right down at the bottom were the ordinary people, povo. Whilst the ruling elite claimed the choice-cuts of the nation’s wealth for themselves there was still enough left to finance Mugabe’s scientific socialism policies such as free education and health care to benefit povo.
By the mid-1980s the ruling elite’s appetites were growing exponentially marched only by their wastefulness and so they creamed off the lion’s share of the nation’s wealth, confident there was more where that came from. The reckless spending was not sustainable, and the economic decline started then and continued to this day.
1990 to 1999 was a decade of the IMF and WB sponsored Economic Structural Adjustment Programmes in which Zanu PF promised to cut government spending across the board in return for financial assistance from the two Bretton Woods financial institutions and other western institutions. Zanu PF has never kept its promises; the poor were forced to “tighten their belts” as funding for free education, health care, etc. was cut. The ruling elite were loosening their belts as they creamed off even more wealth!
By the late 1990s it was clear to many people that Zanu PF’s gutsa ruzhinji was an illusion and wanted the regime replaced but could not because it rigged elections. Zimbabwe was a de facto one-party state and Mugabe and his cronies were riding roughshod over the people, denying them their basic freedoms of rights including the right to free elections and even the right to life.
Mugabe recruited war veterans to help the party impose the Zanu PF dictatorship and they readily agreed on the understanding they would be rewarded with the good life. Over the years the ruling elite have enjoyed the good life and the war veterans were promised their turn will come “tomorrow”. After 41 years many of them now live in abject poverty and yet still some continue to wait for their gutsa ruzhinji “tomorrow!”
If these war veterans had any common sense at all then they should have known by now that Zanu PF’s “tomorrow” is always a day away, their gutsa ruzhinji will never ever come. The 41 years of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption, lawlessness and tyranny have all but destroyed the country’s economy.
The war veterans have the fatal error of helping Zanu PF impose the de facto one-party dictatorship and the whole nation has paid dearly for it.
If the war veterans have at all learned the lesson of their decades of blind loyalty to the Zanu PF dictatorship, then they must join the millions of ordinary Zimbabweans who have been fighting for the implementation of democratic reforms designed to dismantle the dictatorship.
Zimbabwe’s economic recovery is totally dependent on one thing – the dismantling of the de facto one-party dictatorship and the holding of free, fair and credible elections. Nothing of any substance will change in the country until we finally cure ourselves of the curse of the dictatorship. Nothing!