via Mugabe taken down memory lane – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 8, 2016
After their first efforts to register their concerns with President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF ended in humiliation with armed police battering and teargassing them in February, war veterans yesterday held their own against the veteran leader telling him point-blank they still had the same fighting spirit which won them the liberation struggle 36 years ago.
by EVERSON MUSHAVA/RICHARD CHIDZA
The City Sports Centre reverberated not only to liberation war songs, but to ululation and applause as presenters of the various thematic committees took turns to highlight in black and white how Mugabe’s party had neglected them and literally failed to provide direction to the former liberation movement.
They warned of imminent implosion if internal fights continued unabated.
The whole auditorium was decorated with wartime pictures of Mugabe, his late wife Sally and various other late comrades who played a leading role in the struggle. It was more like invoking the spirit of the liberation struggle.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mabel Chinomona rewinded the war years leading in the singing of wartime songs that appeared to take the ex-fighters into some dreamland.
From late master of song Simon Chimbetu’s “Ndarangarira Gamba” to an emotional rendition of “Vapambepfumi Vanonyunyuta Hutongi Hwavakudzokera Kuvaridzi” and “Nyika Yatorwa Nevaeni”, the liberation war fighters seemed to have touched Mugabe to his very core.
Although Mugabe deliberately continued ploughing into the liberation history of the country while ignoring giving answers to the war veterans’ concerns, the former fighters have every reason to feel satisfied with their day’s job.
Throughout their presentations, Mugabe could be seen nodding his head as if agreeing with them as the former combatants breathed fire, claiming they were the vanguard of Zanu PF, the foundation upon which the party was built and would not fold their arms while the organisation staggered towards an abyss.
“War veterans are custodians of the party; when the party is under threat, we are the ones again to restore it to its glory,” former Zanu PF commissariat director Munyaradzi Machacha, who gave a presentation on behalf of the party ideology thematic committee, said, almost bringing down the City Sports Centre that was packed to the brim.
“Enemies started using opposition parties to destroy Zanu PF, and after failing, they have now sent people to infiltrate the party and destroy it from within, but that will not succeed as long as war veterans are there,” Machacha added.
The ex-fighters also demanded that chief coloniser Cecil John Rhodes’s remains that lie at the Matopos Hills near Bulawayo should be exhumed and repatriated to Britain.
The once subdued and tense impoverished war veterans stole the limelight and drove most of their points home, despite Mugabe having told them last week that they were “only affiliate” members of Zanu PF who could not direct the affairs of the party.
They told him point-blank they felt shortchanged by the party’s commissariat under Saviour Kasukuwere, a non-war veteran, and called for the appointment of a representative of the securocrats in his place.
In another twist, Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene sat at the high table along with Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri and axed former minister Webster Shamu, while war veterans chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa, who has become Mugabe’s chief nemesis, and his executive sat in seats reserved for the former Zanla High Command and General Staff directly opposite.
Mugabe’s wife Grace, who was a subject of indirect attack, did not attend the former guerillas’ heated meeting.