Masvingo massacre sites to become national heritage sites

Walter Mswazie, Features Correspondent
As Masvingo joins other provinces in celebrating the hard won independence today, a lot of lessons are drawn from gallant fighters both departed and living who successfully disentangled the bondage of slavery, oppression and wickedness perpetrated by our erstwhile colonisers.

The war of liberation was not a stroll in the park as a number of sons and daughters of Zimbabwe perished, some at tender ages, at the hands of the cruel Rhodesian forces who never believed in the existence of black people.

The battle that comes to mind is when the Rhodesian forces massacred innocent Zimbabweans at Kamungoma and Hurodzavasikana under Chief Makumbe area in Gutu in 1978. The attack on May 16, 1978 left hundreds of villagers dead, six from one family.

The Department of Museum and Monuments has since turned the area into a museum with plans to make it a national heritage site at an advanced stage.

The department’s provincial director Mr Lovemore Mandima said the department has so far secured the area where the massacres took place at the hands of Rhodesian forces so as to remind the young generation that the country did not come on a silver platter.

“We are making frantic efforts to make Kamungoma and Hurodzavasikana areas in Gutu East national heritage sites. We are only hindered by lack of resources but definitely we are working on coming up with something as a department. We have managed to chronicle the events that occurred during the struggle of liberation, erect some tombstones with names of those who perished,” said Mr Mandima.

He said the young generation should have an appreciation of how independence came about so that they help in jealously guard our sovereignty.

These and other incidents littered around Masvingo province like in Chiredzi in Malipati area near Mozambican border where some late combatants’ bodies lie unburied and land mines scattered thereby posing a threat to the villagers there, are hard to forget even today.

Chiredzi South MP Retired Brigadier General Callisto Gwanetsa said the memories of the war of liberation still linger in most people’s memories in Chiredzi where the footprints of the battles are still traceable.

He said the presence of land mines in areas like Malipati, 37 years after independence means that people in Chiredzi will take time before they forget about the protracted liberation struggle which brought Zimbabwean independence.

He said a number of people perished during the war and most were left without limbs therefore the Government should ensure that such people’s welfare is catered for.

“Independence has brought new positive things in Chiredzi and Masvingo at large. It is because of independence that most people own land through the land reform as opposed to the colonial era when huge tracts of land were in the hands of a few white people. We can now decide on our resources because of independence although it will take ages before people in this part of the country forget about the war,” said Rtd Brig Gen Gwanetsa.

Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Cde Shuvai Mahofa said Masvingo played a crucial role in bringing independence and has produced gallant sons and daughters who partook in the struggle.

She said the likes of late Dr Edison Zvobgo, late Vice President Dr Simon Vengesai Muzenda, late Dr Stan Mudenge, among others who played a crucial role during and after the struggle are hard to forget when celebrating independence.

“Masvingo played a crucial role in bringing the Independence in 1980. We have gallant sons and daughters both living and departed who wrestled power from arrogant, wicked and cruel white minority. We are celebrating independence because of the sacrifices made by men and women some of whom lost limbs during the war. We are however happy that we are enjoying the fruits of independence,” said Cde Mahofa

She hailed President Mugabe for the prevailing peace and tranquility enjoyed by the people in the province and beyond which has seen the people benefiting from massive projects.

“This 37th independence is unique for Masvingo because of the completion of the 1,8 billion cubic metre Tokwe-Mukosi dam. The project would change people’s lives through agriculture as 25 000 hectares of land are set be put under irrigation with plans at an advanced stage for a master plan on the ambitious project. Through the dam, Masvingo province has a potential of becoming the bread basket for the nation, courtesy of independence,” she said.

Zimbabwe Youth Council provincial chairman Mr Talent Chivange said independence has brought a lot of changes in the lives of youths, opening up a lot of opportunities for their emancipation.

“Independence opened a lot of avenues for us the youth from education to business opportunities. A number of youths in Masvingo now own land with some of us running our own businesses, courtesy of independence. We now talk of indigenisation and economic empowerment because of independence brought by our elders led by our iconic leader President Mugabe. We can now access education something that was rare during colonial rule,” said Mr Chivange.

Masvingo provincial secretary for Chamber of Small to Medium Enterprise Mrs Sarah Munemo said independence brought a lot of opportunities for women in Masvingo that many of them are now contributing to the country’s fiscus.

“We are now considered as equal citizens as women because of independence. President Mugabe has created a Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development as well as Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development. These two portfolios support the emancipation of women, economically and politically. We now have female ministers, senators and National Assembly members, all due to Independence.

Before independence, a few if any women were allowed to assume positions of influence, may it be in the society or government. Masvingo has also benefited immensely as we are now partaking in the country’s economy” said Mrs Munemo.

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