Blessings Mashaya 26 April 2017
HARARE – War veterans must re-engage with the people if they want to be
respected again, MDC deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada has said.
The veterans have been President Robert Mugabe’s core loyalists since the
country’s 1970s liberation war against white rule, often using violence to
crush the opposition.
“The war vets must sign a new covenant with the people and become a
national institution not a partisan institution.
“Therefore their livelihoods and needs would be better addressed if they
stand out as a non-partisan institution only loyal to Zimbabwe
“It is in their best interest that they never again be used as purveyors
of violence by Zanu PF or any political party for that matter,” he said.
The former Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister accused the
war veterans of causing the current economic problems.
“It took the late Chenjerai Hunzvi and war vets many months of
demonstrations that forced … Mugabe to bow to their demands in 1997.
After that pay-out, war vets got into bed with Zanu PF and spearheaded a
violent land invasion campaign in 2000,” the MDC secretary for finance and
economic affairs said.
In 1997, former freedom fighters staged demonstrations forcing government
to capitulate and give them Z$50 000 each as gratuity for taking part in
the 15-year bush war that ushered in independence in 1980.
“Then in the 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 elections war vets were unleashed on
defenceless citizens,” he said.
“It is a fact that war vets as an institution killed and maimed many
defenceless people in order to keep Zanu PF in power.”
Mashakada said their “Damascene moment” came after the expulsion of Chris
“Is this a case of sour grapes or a genuine repentance and realisation
that they were being used against the people while their welfare was put
on the back burner?
“I think war vets should learn their lessons and never again be used to
fight the people.”
War veterans have openly protested Mugabe’s dictatorship and abandonment
of the values of the liberation struggle and the very people who gave
their life fighting for freedom and independence.
They served the nonagenarian with divorce papers, after they released a
damning communique against him mid last year.