A war veteran claims that she was sexually abused by senior Zanu officials when they were fighting to liberate the then Rhodesia from colonial rule.
In an exclusive interview with VOA Studio 7, the war veteran who only wanted to be identified as Comrade Chasarira for fear of being victimized, said she is still traumatized by the abuse almost 36 years after Zimbabwe attained independence from British rule.
“During the war we were forced to sleep (have sex) with big people, to sleep with old (senior Zanu) people against our own will and we were forced to do things (sexual activities) that we were not supposed to do but we were just looking at them (submissive) because we thought that that (was part of) the war.
“It’s only now that I am realizing that that was not war, that was something which was against my will.”
Comrade Chasarira, who has now joined Zimbabwe People First led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru, said she has over the years been afraid to come up in the open in fear of being victimized by senior Zanu PF.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was not reachable for comment.
She indicated that a large number of war veterans are disgruntled over the goings-on in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, which she claims has not fulfilled almost all the promises of the liberation struggle.
She said war veterans are in different camps in the ruling party while some have even left for Mrs. Mujuru’s newly-formed Zimbabwe People First.
“At the moment we are divided … Some are at (with) the G40 (Generation 40), some with Mnangagwa but as for me I am now with Mujuru.”
Comrade Chasarira said she is now supporting Mrs. Mujuru “because I wasted my time for nothing. Just think of it, I went to war at the age of 12 and I am now 57 … (There is) nothing I have gained from the government … (Most of) my children are not working and myself I am not working.
“We have rates to pay, we are staying in town and we need to eat. There is only one daughter who is working and is the one that is looking after the whole family but the mother is an ex-combatant.”
Comrade Chasarira has over the years been getting a monthly pension of $175 per month and engaged in vending business to supplement her household income.
“By the Grace of the Lord we are managing (eke out a living),” she said.
Hundreds of former fighters of the 1970s liberation struggle get a monthly state pension. In the 1990s they were given lump sums of $50,000, a move some independent economists say led to the decline of the now defunct Zimbabwe dollar.
Some war veterans are currently engaged in a succession debate in Zanu PF, which led to skirmishes last Thursday between the police and ex-combatants, who had been mobilized by War Veterans Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, to show solidarity for under fire Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said to be habouring presidential ambitions.
Mnangagwa leads a group calling itself Team Lacoste while the rival group, commonly known as Generation 40, is believed to be pushing First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her 92 year old husband.