HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWar vets cannot have it both ways

War vets cannot have it both ways


AN existential issue in modern-day Zimbabwe is where to situate war veterans, after their executive was expelled from Zanu PF, in the country’s politics.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

While the role of war veterans in the country’s liberation can never be questioned, the culture of pre-independence sacrifice has given way to entitlement and self-aggrandisement.

The expulsion of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association executive seems to be a hot potato that nobody seems to know how to handle.

ZimPF leader, Joice Mujuru has already said she wants nothing to do with Christopher Mutsvangwa and his group, while the MDC-T is toying around with the idea of including them in an envisaged coalition.

Mutsvangwa, on the other hand, has thrown in his lot with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe, although the Vice-President has distanced himself from the war veterans’ leader, either as a strategic move or in realisation that the former freedom fighters’ leader’s utterances were harming his succession prospects.

How MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai deals with this contradiction going forward would be instructive, as some have identified war veterans as a critical factor in unseating Mugabe, yet the former fighters evidently want to entrench Zanu PF by backing Mnangagwa.

In the wake of their arrest mid last year, war veterans were suddenly feted as a democratic force, with opposition parties falling over themselves trying to woo them, their transgressions, of over just a few years ago, seemingly forgotten.

There seems to be a culture of believing in the “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” mantra, where just because the war veterans have stood up to Mugabe, they are already seen as a democratic force.

With the foregoing, there is need for Zimbabweans to situate war veterans under Mutsvangwa’s future role in democratising the country.

If there were to be a coalition, would Mutsvangwa be willing to support anyone else besides Mnangagwa and if not, how would MDC-T proceed?

The war veterans’ leadership’s thinking was long exposed by Victor Matematanda, when he said, after meeting with Tsvangirai, that they were like flies that had met over excreta.

With the country about to enter the final stretch ahead of the 2018 elections, there is need for openness and clarity among the leading actors, including what role they think war veterans will play.

As long as the former fighters believe they are a reserve force and kingmakers based on the Mgagao Declaration, then probably opposition parties need to cut ties with them before lasting damage is done.

If war veterans continue seeing themselves as an appendage of a Zanu PF faction, surely opposition parties, MDC-T in particular, need to take decisive action now.

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