Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE challenges that Africa is facing have basically not changed over time.
Colonialism which rides upon the oppression of a majority of blacks in their own land is the chief cause of the suffering of many.
When Africa’s founding fathers who included Dr Nkwame Nkrumah, Dr Julius Nyerere, and Dr Kenneth Kaunda conceived the vision of a free continent, that vision also gave birth to the spirit of promoting regional growth and integration.
The struggle was integrated across borders and for southern Africa, Nyerere, Kaunda, and Samora Machel were among the leading voices which supported the rugged but spirited guerilla movements which, with time, grew into formidable liberation armies.
Thousands of sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, and South Africa among others were maimed or killed by the enemy, while others still live with scars from the pre-independence struggles.
Eventually, such gestures of goodwill by the departed and living comrades led to the end of colonialism in most of Africa especially the sub-Saharan region.
Post-independence, a new war, one for Africa’s economic emancipation began in most countries.
A number of initiatives were then adopted by African governments to achieve total economic freedom and to promote the regional and international integration.
This was and is still being done through the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) now the African Union and others focusing on regions such as Sadc and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). There is commendable progress in the fight for economic emancipation but challenges remain.
According to a senior veteran of the country’s liberation struggle and Zanu-PF official Cde Samuel “Savimbi” Mulaudzi (72), two new invisible enemies, Covid-19 and climate change are frustrating progress on the founding ideals of the war of liberation as well as on economic freedom.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had dealt a huge blow on regional integration and the pan-Africanism dream.
“In the run-up to our independence, we had a lot of support from many countries in the region and far afield as Eastern Europe and Asia. Soon after independence, the focus changed to economic wars, and we now have more problems like this pandemic and natural disasters linked to climate change,” said Cde Savimbi, also vice-chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) for Matabeleland South.
He said although a lot had been done post-independence, Covid-19 was now the worst enemy.
Cde Savimbi said freeing the Limpopo corridor and the strengthening of ties within liberation movements and countries in Sadc remained a major priority pre and post-independence.
He said it was sad to note that this year Zimbabweans commemorated Heroes Day soon after one of the icons of pan-Africanism, Dr Kaunda passed on.
“Dr Kaunda along with others including Nkrumah, Machel, and Nyerere had a vision and a dream of a prosperous and peaceful Africa. This is shown by their support of freedom fighters who trained or launched attacks on the enemy from their soils,” said Cde Savimbi, whose other nom de guerre was Kid Nyika.
“As a region and a continent, we have been doing our best to economically set ourselves free and promote integration. But now we have to redirect energy and resources to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and hunger-induced by successive droughts. This is an enemy of progress”.
He said in the past decade, the country suffered isolation from the West, and that President Mnangagwa’s Government was now seized with the engagement and re-engagement processes.
This process, Cde Savimbi said, was being slowed down by the pandemic and the effects of natural disasters including droughts which has seen most governments in the world re-directing their focus.
The former national secretary for security in the ZNLWVA, said corruption was another crisis Africa was facing post-independence.
“When we went to war, our fight was for the equal rights to own the land, means of production and our Government has been doing well on that front,” said Cde Savimbi.
“However, corruption and other rent-seeking activities are threatening those same founding ideals to boost regional national and economic growth.
“Already President Mnangagwa has set the tone in dealing with corruption with a heavy hand and as Zimbabweans, we must play our part and complement his efforts.”
The politician joined the war of liberation through the Zanla forces at the age of 27 in 1976 after suffering years of abuse at the hands of the Rhodesians while working at Mpili Copper Mine in South Africa.
Cde Savimbi said the disparities in the treatment of black employees and their white counterparts was disheartening, especially on remuneration and promotion.
This, he said, made him forge ties with Zanla forces who were operating in Beitbridge East and that he would supply them with dynamite, food, and clothes.
“I got arrested for helping the Zanla soldiers in 1975 and was deported to Beitbridge in 1976 and appealed my case and was released from prison. I joined the comrades on the same day I got released from prison and moved to Mozambique through the Marivenya area and then camped at Shai-Shai before going for military training in Libya for 18 months,” he said.
After training he was sent to operate in Mutoko and Mt Darwin where he witnessed one of the worst battles of the struggle when 12 freedom fighters were killed during a gunfight that lasted more than 20 hours at Mutoko Centre.
The ex-combatant said they were overpowered after having ambushed some Rhodesian soldiers around the area.
“We were a section of 21 soldiers and the ambush we had planned went wrong and we exchanged fire with the enemy from 11am until 7am on the following day.
“We retreated to our safe base to relaunch another attack when 12 of our members had been killed and we had run out of ammunition,” said Cde Savimbi.
He was attested in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) in 1981 and was deployed to the 2.5 Infantry Battalion in Mt Darwin, and retired in 1984.
He then became a councillor in Ward 2 under Beitbridge Rural District Council.
“Besides venturing into livestock production, upon retirement from the ZNA, I remained active in mainstream politics and have held several portfolios in Zanu-PF and ZNLWVA.
“My desire is to see enhanced economic and infrastructural development in Zimbabwe. This dream will be a reality as long as we stay true to the founding ideals of the war of liberation,” added Cde Savimbi. @tupeyo
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