Masvingo — ZANU-PF politburo member and former Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe has urged Zimbabweans to remain united in the face of challenges currently facing the country, saying it was crucial for people to continue supporting the ruling party ahead of next year's watershed elections.
Rtd Gen Zvinavashe, who is the Senator for Gutu, said Zimbabweans should jealously guard the country's hard-won independence, which came as a result of a bitter and protracted war of liberation that culminated in the toppling of the Ian Smith regime in 1980.
Speaking at a belated party to commemorate his retirement from the armed forces held at Hwiru Grounds at Mpandawana Growth Point at the weekend, Rtd Gen Zvinavashe said Zimbabweans should maintain their loyalty to Zanu-PF.
He added that they should show this by rallying behind the party in key polls next year.
"Things might be difficult at the moment in the country but as a nation we must always remember where we came from, where we are right now and where we want to go in the future.
"Zimbabwe did not come that simple, we worked very hard to attain independence and even some of our colleagues never made it to the new and independent Zimbabwe.
"We must remain united as a nation despite the challenges that we are facing at the moment. I want to challenge all of you to go out in large numbers and vote for the ruling Zanu-PF in next year's elections because it is very important for us as a country," he said.
He pointed out that the harmonised polls next year would provide a perfect platform for Zimbabweans to reaffirm their support for Zanu-PF's rule and at the same time give a fatal blow to neo-imperialists who have been on a relentless campaign to undermine the country's sovereignty.
Rtd Gen Zvinavashe added that Zimbabweans were supposed to fully utilise the right to vote, which he said was sacrosanct as it came at a bitter price of blood.
He also sent a warning to some sections of the society who were agitating for a return to war, saying that was the work of cowards whom he said would never stand the heat of a bitter armed conflict.
"There are some people who are openly saying we want to go back to war again, but do they know what a war is?
"After all, they are daylight cowards who can never stand the heat of a real war. I am also very surprised that there are some people who are busy talking about change (opposition MDC), what sort of change is that? What do they actually want to change? A person can only change his or her name not the totem."
Turning to his Grand Commander of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit award by President Mugabe, Rtd Gen Zvinavashe dedicated the medal to all the living and fallen freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to free their motherland.
Speaking at the same function, Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi described Rtd Gen Zvinavashe as an accomplished soldier and freedom fighter who has continued to show unparalleled loyalty to his country.
Dr Sekeramayi said the fact that Rtd Gen Zvinavashe was decorated with many medals for his role in the military in the pre and post-independence period was a clear manifestation that he was a legend who had never wavered from the path of loyalty and dedication to his country.
He chronicled Rtd Gen Zvinavashe's history from the days he joined the liberation struggle at Chunya Camp in Tanzania in 1968 until the country attained independence in 1980 when he was now the deputy chief of security and intelligence.
Top Government and Zanu-PF officials including President of the Senate Cde Edna Madzongwe, Masvingo Governor Cde Willard Chiwewe, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Dr Stan Mudenge, Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire and Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs President Chief Fortune Charumbira attended the celebrations.