Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday marked his 67th birthday, reflecting on a tortuous journey he has travelled and endured in selfless service to his country and made a passionate appeal to the young generation that the best present he can have will be the defence of the revolution in the August 23 national elections.
Zimbabwe is due to hold harmonised elections next month and the ruling Zanu PF party and its presidential candidate, President Mnangagwa, are pollsters’ favourites.
As he reflected on the punishing journey that he has travelled since he was a 16-year-old boy, Vice President Chiwenga said he belonged to the gallant generation of selfless men and women who were forced by circumstances to forgo the exuberance of youth for an unforgiving liberation war to liberate the country from the colonial yoke.
He said his generation of young men and women dared the supremely equipped and well-drilled colonial army and had to watch their colleagues suffer and pay the ultimate price at the hands of the cruel and gruesome Ian Smith regime.
As he and his fellow gallant colleagues toiled, their energy and zeal to continue came from the need for self-determination which they eventually won and which the country continues to enjoy today.
In an and exclusive interview with The Herald yesterday, VP Chiwenga said he was emotionally crushed to sometimes see some elements in the country toiling with the idea of reversing the gains of independence, but is always heartened by the younger generation’s appreciation of history and their zeal to stand in defence of the revolution.
In President Mnangagwa, VP Chiwenga said, the youths have right before them not only a developmental champion who is driving the country on rapid economic growth, but a candidate who let go of all the pleasures he could have enjoyed in his youthful years in preference of a tortuous journey prosecuting the liberation war.
“I had to leave school together with quite a lot of other youths of the day. I left to go for the struggle when I was just 16-years-old,” he said. “We left via Botswana. We were four of us and in the north-east where the struggle had already started. We couldn’t go through that avenue because of the Rhodesian security forces. As we were there, the numbers started to swell and more so when Mozambique won independence in 1975, but alas it was not as we had thought. You will know of what happened and Nyadzonya where young girls and boys, young men and women were killed in cold blood and this was before they even went for military training. These were literally what we would today call refugees.
“This was the bloodiest episode in our struggle and to endure this, but still be able to continue, shows the huge determination we had.”
VP Chiwenga explained that rough estimates put the total death toll of the war at over 50 000, a figure which he says was astronomical when juxtaposed against the then national population.
It’s a history which he says must guide the younger generation as they carry out their businesses freely today and even when they get an opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights through national elections.
“The best gift that I expect from the youth who are the future leaders of this country and for whom we toiled so much in the war, is to protect what we fought for,” said VP Chiwenga.
“The blood that was spilled should not been in vain. It’s not animal blood, it was human blood. What we expect from the youth today is to defend that revolution, to build the Zimbabwe that we all want and are proud of.”
“The only thing that should always echo in their mind is never to think that anybody will come from anywhere to build and develop this our beautiful God-given country. It is their responsibility.
“Their role is to go all out and vote, and vote to protect the colossal revolutionary party, Zanu PF. To vote for one of the surviving sons of Zimbabwe who joined the liberation struggle way back in 1962, His Excellency Cde President Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa
He has the vision to take Zimbabwe where we all want through Vision 2030. So, we ask the youths, in all their millions, to vote and defend what we fought for. Vote for the revolutionary party, all its parliamentary and council candidates included.
“Vote to reverse the rot that is taking place in our urban councils under the opposition’s watch for us to drive every corner of the country towards Vision 2030 and forget about poverty.”