The firing of teargas on protesting war veterans by police as matters came to a head yesterday was just a culmination of the simmering conflicts within Zanu PF. It was just a matter of time as President Robert Mugabe has failed to effectively deal with the internecine fights centred around who will succeed him.
It was unheard of that teargas canisters are thrown at Zanu PF supporters. What more war veterans who Mugabe has always hailed for their critical role in the liberation struggle. The tables have now been turned.
But, the development is no surprise given that the party, under Mugabe, has failed to effectively resolve the hot succession issue.
The events yesterday point to Zimbabwe hurtling towards civil unrest. The scenes clearly show a country on the edge of a potential civil strife. Regrettably, the reason is that Mugabe hates dissent with a passion, yet he claims to be a democrat. Clearly, Mugabe sanctioned the clampdown to enable him to deal with the party’s succession issue.
No doubt, Mugabe, who turns 92 on Sunday, must take full responsibility for sowing the seeds of discontent after failing to name his successor for almost 36 years, and still counting. We are aware that when Mugabe would, in the past, unleash violence on opposition parties, the war veterans supported him. However, we have always condemned Mugabe’s use of force against dissenting voices — both within Zanu PF and the opposition.
Mugabe must not endanger the whole country by stirring confusion in dealing with the succession issue.
We believe Mugabe needs to deal with the urgent developments in a sober way given the role that the war veterans have played in ensuring he remained at the helm of the party and government. The war vets have enough clout to undermine Zanu PF in a significant way should they fail to get their own way.
They can choose to rally behind any of the expelled Zanu PF members. It would, therefore, be detrimental to the ruling party leaders to forget that they partly owe their continued stay in power to the war veterans.
Yet, the ex-combatants should draw lessons from the turn of events — that subjugating the nation to a single parochial party view at the expense of the national interest has dire consequences. The war veterans have been used as mere pawns to help keep certain individuals in power and now they have become victims of their own machinations
With advanced age and ill-health stalking Mugabe, it would appear as if the party is spiralling out of his control, and political vultures are circling around his wife Grace using her heavily borrowed power.
These developments are, however, no surprise as we have consistently reported that the entry of First Lady Grace into politics would be detrimental to Zanu PF. The chickens seem to be coming home to roost now.
The advent of civil disorder will bring the country’s tottering economy to the brink, besides creating humanitarian casualties and concerns. We have enough challenges such that conflicts and civil strife in which violence and incessant killings are prevalent is the least of what is required.
The most unfortunate thing, however, is that as Zanu PF implodes, it is the nearly 14 million Zimbabweans who continue to be held to ransom.
The economy continues to falter while government business is at a standstill. Is it not too clear to Mugabe that conflict in the country is hinged solely on poverty, human rights violations, bad governance and corruption and marginalisation, among others? Zimbabwe surely deserves better.