via Take Mugabe head-on: Mujuru – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 5, 2016
FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s newly-launched Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party has urged war veterans to take advantage of their Thursday meeting with President Robert Mugabe to remind him that he owes his political survival to their sacrifices during and after the liberation struggle.
by RICHARD CHIDZA/EVERSON MUSHAVA
In statement yesterday, ZimPF said it respected and recognised the invaluable contributions of the war veterans during and after the independence war.
“They should seize this opportunity to speak against the ills of their patron’s government, the plight of the generality of Zimbabweans and how this situation can be turned around, fundamentally, by democratising our politics and national governance and pursuing economic policies that put the needs of our people first,” ZimPF official Rugare Gumbo said in the statement.
“We shall continue to encourage and promote their (war veterans) involvement in building a democratic and prosperous nation without the current inherent and pervasive vestiges of corruption.”
In the past few months, Mugabe, who once declared Zimbabwe would only be ruled by someone with liberation war credentials, has departed from this, instead denigrating the former freedom fighters for having a superiority complex over the country’s leadership and involvement in his succession.
In remarks perceived as setting the agenda for the Thursday meeting, Mugabe on Saturday declared that the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association was an affiliate of Zanu PF that could not give orders to the party.
Mujuru’s party said Mugabe’s attacks on war veterans “cast a dark shadow on Zanu PF as a party and government”.
“Who would have dreamt that 36 years after independence, our liberators would be targets of attack by the party and government they helped create?
“Under normal circumstances, we expect the patron of the war veterans, who is also the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, to be fully behind the expectations of our liberators and their fight for the unhindered exercise of their fundamental democratic rights including that of congregating for the purposes of demonstrating,” the opposition party said.
ZimPF raised the question: “Whose side is he (Mugabe) on and why?”
Zanu PF is torn between two warring factions, one known as Generation-40 (G40), which reportedly has the backing of First Lady Grace Mugabe, and another, which is said to be backing Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership ambitions.
“We, therefore, urge all concerned to respect and give the war veterans the dignity they deserve from all sectors of the community, while, at the same time, urging war veterans to be the nationalists that we know they should be and fight for the total emancipation of the people,” Gumbo wrote.
“We urge the war veterans to seize the opportunity of their meeting with President Robert Mugabe to remind him and his government of the need for a peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe, where every citizen enjoys the fundamental freedoms of association, choice, speech and the right to demonstrate and choose a government of their choice.”
Mugabe is set to meet the former freedom fighters on Thursday, one of his several engagements in a congested week, which starts with a Cabinet meeting today, politburo tomorrow and central committee on Friday.
Meanwhile, former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman and Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy leader Temba Mliswa said war veterans should push Mugabe to name his successor to restore sanity to the economy.
“As youth, we challenge the war vets to take Mugabe to task to resolve the succession issue. They should not leave the meeting without being told who will succeed Mugabe,” he said.
“We don’t mind who he names as his successor, whether it will be (First Lady) Grace (Mugabe) or (Zanu PF political commissar) Saviour Kasukuwere, we don’t care, as long as there is clarity on the matter.
“It is only the war vets who are in a strong position to challenge Mugabe to step down. They introduced Mugabe to the people during the liberation struggle when they did not even know him, so they should challenge him to come clear on the succession issue and step down.”
Mliswa said war veterans should also demand that Mujuru, Gumbo, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa and former war veterans boss Jabulani Sibanda be allowed to attend the meeting.
“Anything short of that, it is a Zanu PF rally than a meeting of war vets,” he said.
“Those in Zanu PF who did not take part in the struggle should not attend. The meeting should bring to life the spirit of fallen heroes such as Josiah Magama Tongogara, Alfred Nikita Mangena, Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi and many more.”