By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE recent conferment of national hero status on agriculture minister Perrance Shiri has ended the waning attachment people in Bulawayo still had with Zimbabwe’s liberation war heroes and the day of their commemoration.
Zimbabweans celebrate National Heroes Day and the Defence Forces Day this Monday and Tuesday.
However, disillusioned residents felt it was pointless to commemorate this year‘s Heroes and Defence Forces days when their rights and freedoms were being violated by their former liberators and those working under the country’s security forces.
“Heroes Day has lost its relevance especially the acre where some people associated with Gukurahundi atrocities have been buried as heroes.
“Recently, we had former Fifth Brigade commander Perrance Shiri who was buried at the site.
“It is unfortunate that criminals are buried with military honours as heroes,” said Ibhetshu Likazulu coordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
Until his death due to Covid-19 late last month, Shiri remained a hated figure in the predominantly Ndebele region due to his role in the early 1990s genocide which killed a majority 20 000 Ndebeles.
Shiri was commander of the notorious Fifth Brigade which carried out the atrocities.
Fuzwayo said his group has instead organised a ceremony in honour of all people who sacrificed their lives in dismantling colonial rule.
“Colonial rule has been sadly replaced by oppressive rule in the country,” he said.
Similarly, MDC Alliance Bulawayo province spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said some of the people who claim to have liberated the country have now turned against the people they liberated.
“In all fairness, Heroes Day should be called ‘villains day’ because those who hold the reins of power, who purportedly participated in the liberation struggle, stand accused of murder, abductions, torture intimidation and detentions without trial.
“Almost every Zimbabwean is now a hero or heroine one way or the another because the majority of people are doing heroic activities to fend for their families,” said Chirowodza.
Political activist, Ruben Moyo also said the value of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day has diminished in the wake of security forces blatantly visiting brutalities against ordinary citizens.
“When I grew up in the 80s, Zimbabwe Defence Forces used to be a highly respected professional force which all my generation were proud to be associated with.
“Now, nobody wants to be associated with the army anymore because of its partisan conduct.
“Recently, a lot of people have been assaulted by soldiers for no apparent reason,” said Moyo.