VETERANS of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation have declared war on President Robert Mugabe and made a clarion call for citizens to remove him from power in elections next year.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda told an indaba of the former fighters in Harare yesterday that Mugabe’s government had failed to deliver on the promises of the liberation struggle.
“As I am looking at you, I am thinking of 2018. We would want to discuss about the war veterans’ welfare, but in a country where $15 billion can be stolen and nobody is arrested we are just wasting our time,” Matemadanda said.
“What we must do here is to have a plan of getting rid of people who steal $15 billion without being arrested. Those that failed to arrest them must also go. Hoping to get any form of welfare from such people is a complete waste [of time].The people you gave the mandate to run this country have failed.”
Matemadanda, in an impassioned address, urged Mugabe to step down and use his last days to organise and run foundations besides writing his memoirs. The war veterans’ chief accused those allegedly forcing the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader to cling onto power of misleading him for their personal gain.
“The same people have sent their own grandmothers and fathers to old people’s homes, but cannot let go a 93-year-old President, lying to him that ‘we love you’ as a decoy so that he cannot have time to write his memos and leave a legacy when he dies,” Matemadanda said.
The war veterans bemoaned high levels of corruption and once again blamed a faction of the ruling party reportedly pushing for First Lady Grace to take over from her ailing husband for the internal strife rocking Zanu PF and the country in general.
The ex-freedom fighters said they would vote for competent candidates in the next elections as opposed to supporting Zanu PF candidates.
“We have been voting people into power because they have been coming from the political parties that we were in,” Matemadanda said.
“Even when you know that the person is not the right candidate, you were forced to vote for that person because of party allegiance. We are saying that has come to an end.”
ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa declared the G40 faction, reportedly fronted by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government minister and party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, the official enemy of war veterans and the people of Zimbabwe. He said the 2018 elections should be used to send G40 “packing from government”.
“G40 represents the worst of counter revolution and reactionarism … In war you are told to know your enemy. Now the whole country knows the enemy. We delivered the vote to the people and there is no weapon as powerful as the vote.
“Now the people have got their vote, they cannot be defeated. What is needed is the clarity of knowing who is the enemy. Once we have the clarity, we can do what happened in Norton and what happened in Masvingo a few weeks ago,” Mutsvangwa said.
He blamed G40 for inconsistencies in the indigenisation policy, saying it was at the centre of the worsening economic crisis which had seen massive capital flight.
“The economy is a stinking criticism of those G40 people in Cabinet and we should not allow them to stay in power using the 2018 vote,” Mutsvangwa declared.
The indaba — which was attended by over 1 000 war veterans — also attracted Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, Agrippa Mutambara of ZimPF and two former Zanu PF youth chairmen, Godwin Gomwe (Harare) and Godfrey Tsenengamu (Mashonaland Central), among others who were fired for supporting the ascendancy of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
They gave solidarity messages at the indaba which was temporarily disrupted following a power outage at the venue.
The war veterans condemned First Lady Grace for saying Zimbabwe would be led by Mugabe’s corpse. The ex-fighters said such statements had the effect of ridiculing the nation.
The war veterans also had a go at Zanu PF youth secretary Kudzanai Chipanga, accusing him of trying to build a Mugabe dynasty.
Police maintained a heavy presence and kept a watchful eye some 400 metres away with two water cannons and armed riot personnel.
Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda were mobbed by hordes of war veterans who sang and danced as they walked into the venue.
The former War Veterans minister said he was humbled by the defiance shown by war veterans in the face of alleged intimidation by G40 elements who had “taken control of State House” and were “holding Mugabe hostage”.
Tsenengamu called on all those fired from the ruling party to fight to reclaim their positions from those who had “stolen” the party from its founders.
Without directly mentioning Mugabe by name, Tsenengamu challenged the war veterans to tell their “peer to go and rest” because he had walked his path and it had come to an end.