Heroes’ Day: Cancer of betrayal

NEXT Monday and Tuesday Zimbabwe will celebrate important holidays, Heroes’ Day and Defence Forces Day to commemorate those who fought in the country’s bitter liberation struggle which brought independence in 1980.

Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya

Once again, as it happens annually, there will be colourful ceremonies, military parades, drills and fly-pasts, and of course long speeches in which the national political leadership, that comes from a nationalist movement background, will wallow in self-praise while reminding all and sundry of their heroics of the past.

The narratives of the speeches are usually backwards-looking; awash with nostalgia and self-glorification. Hardly do the present and future feature in the rhetoric.

While those who support the current parasitic political class will participate and follow in awe of their leaders, some who fought the liberation struggle will be watching from the sidelines with bitterness and a sickening feeling in their guts.

For those who have been betrayed by the current leadership, there will be nothing to celebrate. It will be an occasion for sad memories and bitterness.

One such a person who will be consumed by such feelings will be war hero, Mapiye Solomon Wekwete. For he feels betrayed and abandoned by those in power he fought with or fought to liberate.
They are enjoying the trappings of office and feasting alone, as he put it. (Read feature on page 10).

Wekwete’s experience is a microcosm of a wider existential reality of thousands of former freedom fighters.

There are many in a similar situation, in fact living in worse conditions than him. They have been abandoned by their comrades who have colonised the ruling party and the state with their wives, children, relatives and friends to form a complex system of nepotism, patronage, and corruption.

Looting has now become their mission, no matter how they try to sound nationalistic and fiercely patriotic to camouflage the vile agenda. They don’t care that the economy is actually in tatters due to their depredations. Neither do they care they have actually become the architects of poverty and an enemy of the people they always pontificate they liberated.

Because of the actions of political sharks in power, the people, to use Fanon’s language, have now come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labour but the result of organised, protected robbery.

As Fanon says, rich political leaders are no longer respectable people; they are nothing more than cannibals, jackals and vultures which swim in the people’s blood like vampires.

To quote The African Weekly of Congo Brazzaville cited by Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth addressing the Youlou regime at the material time: “You who are in good positions, you and your wives, today you enjoy many comforts; perhaps a good education, a fine house, good contacts and many missions on which you are delegated which open new horizons to you. But all your wealth forms a hard shell which prevents your seeing the poverty that surrounds you.”
In Cabral’s expression at Nkrumah’s funeral, this all denotes a “cancer of betrayal” which must be rooted out.

However, those who try to object, express dissent and oppose this sort of betrayal — including independent-minded African intellectuals who have broken ranks with the liberation movement by taking a critical examination of what it has delivered after the euphoria of independence, if anything — are met with a vicious backlash.

War veterans and people who feel let down by their leadership might as well be saying, as The African Weekly concluded: “If there is no room in your heart for consideration towards those who are beneath you, there will be no room for you in God’s house!”