War vets thumb nose at Mugabe

THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) has welcomed Zanu PF’s move to expel its senior leaders from the governing party, saying it will give them space and time to work with the people. BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Source: War vets thumb nose at Mugabe – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 5, 2016

Responding to the Zanu PF politburo’s decision to fire secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, national commissar Francis Nhando and vice-chairman Headman Moyo on Wednesday, the former freedom fighters said they were unfazed.

Mahiya said the ex-combatants were not supposed to be aligned to any party in the first place.

“It liberates us from the weight of party and government rules that have never benefited war veterans,” he said.

“They call us a reserve force. Whose reserve force and for what purpose? Anyway, we have never benefited from any association with the army, except for those who have served as regular troops.”

ZNLWVA chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa was expelled from Zanu PF two months ago after he continuously ran afoul of Mugabe, while Mahiya, Matemadanda, Nhando and Moyo were victims of the fall-out that followed the release of a stinging statement last month that called on Mugabe to resign.

The communiqué has shaken the very foundations of Mugabe’s leadership, as it was the first time the former freedom fighters had publicly rejected the Zanu PF leader’s administration and accused him of rights abuses.

Mahiya said the war veterans would now work with “ordinary citizens”.

“We were not supposed to be aligned to any party in the first place because the people in opposition parties such as MDC-T, Zimbabwe People First, Zapu and others were part of the struggle,” he said.

“Some lost sons and daughters, relatives and friends to the war. War veterans are supposed to be referees in the country’s political games, as well as custodians of the ideals of the liberation struggle.”

Mugabe’s relationship with the ZNLWVA has hit rock-bottom and the former fighters have threatened to withdraw their support for his candidature in elections expected in 2018.

Mugabe has built his near four-decade-old rule on support from war veterans using them as shock-troopers to whip in particular rural citizens into line during elections.

The Zanu PF leader last week anointed a splinter group led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene as the interim executive of the former freedom fighters.

However, the ZNLWVA leadership has since approached the courts to stop the splinter group from using its name.