Source: Shun violence, war vets urge youths – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 10, 2017
THE country’s liberation war fighters, for long regarded as the ruling Zanu PF’s election running dogs, have made a major political U-turn, urging youths across the political divide to avoid being used by top politicians to fan violence ahead of the 2018 elections.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Speaking at a peace-building meeting held in Masvingo last Thursday, war veterans said they regretted being used as President Robert Mugabe’s shock troopers in previous elections.
“Instead of toyi-toying on behalf of politicians, and being bought beer and used, you should be given empowerment. I urge you not to get over-excited and be used to beat your friends and relatives ahead of the elections. The avenging spirits will haunt you alone, while the politicians are in the comfort of their homes in Harare,” a war veteran, identified as Charamba Yaliti, said.
“Start your own projects or contest for posts in your various parties.”
Masvingo war veterans’ provincial secretary for labour, Western Ezra, said youths should also benefit from land, which has been a preserve of senior politicians.
“You should also benefit from the land, it is for everyone. That is why we went to war. It is high time you stopped being used by politicians or live at their mercy. After all, they don’t fight each other, but use you. In any case, every party is legal in Zimbabwe as long as it is registered, so why beat a person from that party?” he said.
Asked by the youths at the meeting whether they had reached a Damascene moment given that they used to assault opposition supporters during polls, former Masvingo provincial war veterans chairperson, Charles Muchena, said they had turned from “Saul to Paul”.
“We cannot see the light at one time. But we are now saying that we regret that and we are sorry. We say no to violence, no to corruption and no to dynasties,” he said.
Youth Forum programmes manager, Ashton Bumhira, said: “We feel the youth of today are facing the same challenges faced by the war veterans in the 1970s era when they were youths. While the war vets, in their youth, were being oppressed by the whites, now the oppression is coming from a black government.
“The overall objective is for the war vets to inspire the young people to unite and take action against corruption, police brutality, and lack of accountable and able leadership, among others.”