Fungi Kwaramba 9 May 2017
HARARE – Riled by the country’s worsening economic rot, disgruntled war
veterans have renewed their attacks on President Robert Mugabe – saying
the suffering and chaos now being witnessed in the country is not what
they fought for during the liberation struggle.
And contrary to recent State media claims that they had been gagged, the
angry war veterans also said yesterday that they had no interest in
pacifying Mugabe – declaring emphatically that they would not hold back
their withering criticism of Zanu PF’s misrule, despite warnings from the
military to let go of the feud.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the secretary-general of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor
Matamadanda, dismissed “with contempt” claims war vets had been gagged and
ordered by their leader Christopher Mutsvangwa to heed recent warnings by
the commander of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, to stop
their public brawling with Mugabe.
He emphasised repeatedly that former freedom fighters would “never be
silenced either by Mugabe or his emissaries”.
“It is not true that the chairperson (Mutsvangwa) silenced us. That is the
false creation of people who are not happy with our executive.
“They think they have found the chance to separate us but they will not
succeed. The truth is that these people will not see any split.
“We have no problems in our association and we are operating as usual. We
agreed that nothing will divide us and they should just stop wasting their
time,” the fearless Matemadanda said.
He once again savaged Mugabe and his government over their failure to act
on the country’s worsening economic rot, including the acute shortage of
cash, which triggered violent clashes between police and tobacco farmers
in Harare last Friday.
“We have reached a stage where we are now saying who will be spared by
Mugabe and his government? Who do they want to work with? They beat us,
they are now beating up farmers . . . they want to attack everyone and
“Is it a problem that a person should demand his money? We led the farm
invasions and we will not stop speaking on behalf of the farmers who are
being taken for a ride by the authorities.
“The country’s problems cannot be solved by violence. Surely how can one
say one is in power when people are suffering like this? People are
suffering that is why you see these demonstrations and yet this government
wants to rule by fear.
“Those who can stop this, are they happy when people are being beaten like
this? . . . Just imagine, most of the farmers are old and young cops are
sent to beat them up. Is this the freedom we fought for?
“Even those who say we should not complain, can we do that when people are
being beaten? . . . Let us sit down as Zimbabweans and solve our problems
together,” Matemadanda thundered further.
Last week, heavily-armed riot police fired teargas and roughed up
desperate tobacco farmers who had been queuing for their money at one of
the auction floors in Harare.
This came as the disaffected war veterans have been feuding with Mugabe
ever since they issued a damning communique against the nonagenarian mid
Until that happened, the fed-up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe’s and
Zanu PF’s pillars, waging particularly brutal campaigns against opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections
of 2000 and 2008.
Their stunning fallout with Mugabe and Zanu PF later saw their chairperson
Mutsvangwa being fired from both the Cabinet and the ruling party last
year, while many of their other top leaders were also banished from the
imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before
Last week, Matemadanda publicly ignored the warning from Chiwenga and
mauled both the general and Mugabe, as the war vets escalated their
quarrelling with the 93-year old Zimbabwean leader.
The military commander had savaged their leadership and other Zanu PF
bigwigs in an interview with State media, while making veiled threats to
the country’s re-energised opposition – which also prompted the MDC to
rebuke him sharply last Thursday.
In a stunning move, a fuming Matemadanda pooh-poohed Chiwenga’s warning
soon after, saying it was the democratic right of disaffected war veterans
to express their feelings over the way they had been treated by Mugabe.
“Remember the General (Chiwenga) is an appointed officer . . . He was
appointed by the president and he must be seen under the constitution to
be defending the president. But unfortunately, he is the commander of the
army and not of civilians.
“It is wrong therefore to think that every Zimbabwean is governed by the
Zanu PF constitution. People have to feel free to reflect on issues, and
no one can take that away unless if people say they want to introduce a
dictatorship,” the miffed Matemadanda said then.
He also moved to defend war veterans’ spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, who had
the previous week warned that the freedom fighters would not countenance
Mugabe creating “a dynastic rule”.
Mahiya was later in turn criticised by Chiwenga, who also excoriated
warring Zanu PF factions which have been going at each other hammer and
tongues, in the ruling party’s ugly succession ructions.
“Mahiya talks about a dynasty and if Mugabe is not about to create one why
should people suffer for that. Hapana imbwa inohukura sadza unless kana
pasi pane nyoka (a dog only barks when it has detected danger).
“People know that there is something that is behind the scenes. Indeed,
why should the General worry about a person exercising his democratic
right?” Matemadanda asked.
Yesterday, Matemadanda also seized the opportunity to punch holes into
Mugabe’s controversial remarks at last week’s World Economic Forum (WEF)
in Durban, South Africa, which sparked anger among long suffering
Mugabe claimed that Zimbabwe was only second to South Africa in terms of
development on the continent, as he tried to justify why the country
should not be treated as a fragile state.
“You say Zimbabwe is second to South Africa in terms of development but
the next day you are beating people who are demanding their cash.
“You are talking about protection of human rights yet you beat up people.
Is that right and can we be told to shut up?” Matemadanda railed.