My name is Benjamin Paradza. My war name was Takudzwa Nemass (meaning Our people have made us greater than we could have been by ourselves). I am a Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe currently living in exile. I am a member of Team ZUNDE. I am a war veteran having participated in the armed struggle from 1978 till independence.
When I joined the war in 1978 I was quick to learn what it meant to be a combatant, a comrade in arms, and a member of ZANLA. Most importantly, I learnt I was a political soldier and I understood above all that I was fighting not for myself but for the people of Zimbabwe, the masses, the Povo. If the Povo rejected anything that was it: they were the ultimate arbiter. We composed and sang songs that reinforced this theme “Povo yaramba” (the people have spoken). The people were the vanguard of the revolution and not us as suggested in the communiqué. My war name stated above bears testimony to that fundamental principle.
To the war veterans I say thank you for seeing the light at this late hour. It is time that you did the right thing by standing on the side of the people. However Team Zunde is not going to praise you for doing what you have now done. Many of the things you have done cannot and will not just be wished away by saying, as you have, that is now in the past.
We remind you of the following:
1.Your role in in the violence that preceded the attack on Judges in their chambers and in the Supreme Court in 2001 resulting in the forced resignation of the Chief Justice and hence directly threatening the rule of law. We note that you are now saying you will do all you can to respect the rule of law. We sincerely hope you do.
2.Your role in the killing of white farmers who had done nothing to deserve or warrant death. The names of David Stevens and Henry Elsworth and 35 other farmers come to mind. Did you really have to kill men who were not in any way a threat to the people?
3.Your role in the violent invasion of commercial farms that has brought our country to its knees today. What were you thinking? Why did you do that when all you had to do was use the political power that you had won in the war?
You need to publicly and sincerely apologise for these and the many other shameful roles you have played in bringing misery to our people over the years. We want to hear you categorically state that henceforth you will stand up for the democratic rights of our people and stop blindly following ZANU PF, simply because it is ZANU PF, as if it is a cult. You are political soldiers who know and understand that the people are supreme and killing your own people in order to protect a dictator who has long since lost his way is the ultimate betrayal of your mission.
As a war veteran and a political commissar I understand your DNA and psyche. You will do what you were trained to do and the fact that you have witnessed the evil that Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF have wrought on all Zimbabweans including yourselves should bring you to your senses.
Now is the time to acknowledge your role in Mugabe’s madness, to beg forgiveness from the people of Zimbabwe and to show your true repentence by bringing the madness to an end.
Now is the time to do your duty and to stand up in support of the people of Zimbabwe whom you have been called to serve.
Now is the time for you to help us finish the fight against oppression, dictatorship and inept governance in which we are engaged.
Now is the time to help us build the better Zimbabwe that we fought for.
Povo yaramba! The people have spoken!
Justice Benjamin Paradza
Exiled Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe