War veterans remain defiant

HARARE - War veterans have thrown down the gauntlet at President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, scoffing at the government’s savage crackdown on their leadership which they say is akin to what the late Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith and his minority government did to blacks before Zimbabwe’s independence.

The restless freedom fighters’ defiance comes as their secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, as well as three other officials, were given bail yesterday after being charged on Monday with undermining and insulting Mugabe.

To date, police have all in all arrested five senior war veterans, including the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, in a crackdown which came in the aftermath of the freedom fighters serving divorce papers on Mugabe in a stunning development two weeks ago.

“It is sad that these fighters, the best that Africa has ever produced in modern times, four decades down the line they are being persecuted by those who were war deserters, war cowards,” ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa told an online television channel this week.

“It is an attempt at intimidating us but if Smith couldn’t intimidate us then no one will intimidate us. It is very sad that these people abuse the most powerful office in the land ... a whole rally of pseudo war veterans is called up to be addressed,” Mutsvangwa added, also criticising last week’s gathering in Harare of Zanu PF supporters to ostensibly show solidarity with Mugabe.

Characteristically shooting from the hip, Mutsvangwa said there was an attempt by those in power to “politicise the criminal laws of this country” in a desperate endeavour to silence war veterans.

“Arrests and any other attempts to derail us is a useless thing. We want the nation to know that we are behind the leadership of Mutsvangwa. Any other moves are just as good as what Smith did when we were in the struggle,” Mahiya told the Daily News yesterday.

“Smith wanted to rope in Africans and set up a puppet government which was led by Muzorewa. In this case, there is going to be a puppet war veterans leadership that is not a true representative of the people because it is not elected by the people under the constitution of the war veterans. So, their operations are illegal,” he added.

Analysts also said yesterday that the war veterans had at last found their voices despite the crackdown, and this was indicative of their resolve to take on Mugabe and the rest of the Zanu PF leadership despite the government’s vicious response to their communiqué last week.

Speaking in Harare during his hastily-convened meeting with Zanu PF supporters last week, Mugabe said the former freedom fighters who had denounced him would be punished severely, in similar fashion to the punishment that was meted out to delinquent war veterans who were thrown into dungeons during the country’s liberation struggle.

Political analysts also said the government had miscalculated the mood among both the war veterans and the general populace when it decided to descend heavily on the ex-combatants.

“The statement by the war veterans’ chairperson Mutsvangwa puts down the gauntlet and it will be interesting to see how the regime responds to that.

“Clearly, where they expected the war veterans to scurry and cower, they have not. However, it is unlikely that the establishment will take this lying down. So, an escalation of sorts is likely and the war veterans and the country need to brace for that,” said civic leader and political analyst McDonald Lewanika.

Another analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the war veterans were clearly fed up with Mugabe and his government.

“Those handing over themselves to authorities are just telling the regime that we have had enough. Indeed, they cannot arrest all of us. We have to defy this regime that is leaving the affairs of the country on auto pilot,” he said.

War veterans have been one of Mugabe and Zanu PF’s strongest pillars of support over the past five decades, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian in power in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.

The fall-out between Mugabe and the war veterans also comes as the 92-year-old is battling swelling public anger against him and Zanu PF, which has seen strikes and riots hurting the already dying economy further.

Yesterday, unemployed college and university graduates and pro-democracy groups held successful demonstrations against Zimbabwe’s untenably high unemployment and the government’s plans to introduce bond notes.

In the meantime, Mahiya also said yesterday that he was unfazed by the crackdown on war veterans as the meeting that produced the communiqué that authorities took exception to was attended by provincial and district leaders of ex-combatants who wanted to discuss problems besetting the country.

“We were arrested because of the meeting that we had at Raylton Sports Club where we met with district and provincial officials. It was a follow-up to the meeting we had with the president where we gave him our grievances and the problems that people are faced with.

“We thought that they could respond to that but they did not, and so we called the leadership to map a way forward and that is what we were discussing at the meeting,” Mahiya said.

Elaborating on his arrest, Mahiya — who was held at the infamous Matapi cells in the Harare high density suburb of Mbare which have been condemned by the country’s courts — said the place is “a hellhole that is unsuitable for human beings”.

“That place is so bad so much that you cannot put an animal there. There is complete darkness and the blankets are lice-infested. The blankets are those that are used to cover the dead. The toilets are so bad,” he said.

Comments (19)

.....Mapfupa angu achamuka !!!

Changamire Dombo - 4 August 2016

The crackdown on war veterans is just bad. A veteran who was a police officer and was captured on the lead story of the Newsday Zimbabwe lead story while attending the War Veterans' meeting that issued the infamous communique was discharged from the police service

Jesuit Priest - 4 August 2016

Thank you Mr Mugabe for forcing the war vets to rebel against you. We are now witnessing the real 3rd Chimurenga led by Tajamuka with war vets being minor participants.

Loben Gula - 4 August 2016

Thank you war veterans for showing Mugabe that he is not a God father. May all people know that Zimbabwe is not for one family and is our cake. But someone wants to take whole population's cake to be for the very few. He must give way for other leaders. By the way who told Mugabe that he is the only capable human being in Zimbabwe. At 92 he still does not want to have succession plan. Therefore what his wife said is correct that he will lead Zimbabwe from the grave. Now normal thinking Zimbabweans we will never have such things happening.

Qaaqaa - 4 August 2016

And WAR VETERENS take note: NO bloodshed for any political leader or any political party. Besides the majority of families in Zim straddle the political divide.

Clear - 4 August 2016

its mugabe they dont want but its ok if their system of oppression continues under a different person,matebeleland stand up to shona tyranny!!!!

jojo - 4 August 2016

@Jojo, why do you want to mislead people? What have the Shona got to do with this?

Jesuit Priest - 4 August 2016

@Jesuit Priest. The Shona voted Mugabe into power and have historically done so. The Ndebele were intimidated through Gukurahundi but we will never vote for Zanu.Ever. As far as I am concered. Mugabe is a problem for the Shona, he has never been useful for the Ndebeles so there is nothing new for them there.

Tajamuka - 4 August 2016

Toenda kumagumo

chivo - 4 August 2016

@jesuit priest,some guy on the platform said yu guys are crying because long ago when soldiers were terrorising villagers during gukurahundi they were being given rations of tinned beef and fish which theuy would send home for yu guys to eat,the end of that campaign maent no free tinned foods and its affecting yu guys big time

jojo - 4 August 2016

So Takamuka zanupf lost all the seats in Ndebele areas handiti

therambo - 4 August 2016

For me the most significant and admirable thing has been the end of fear. Fear has been used by the cruel ruler and his lice all along but hey, everyone dies at some point...nothing lasts forever.

Sagitarr - 5 August 2016

All zanu.pf cards wth warvets,return to sender,30 000 cards.mr chombo ,a truckload of cards is coming .

viola gwena - 5 August 2016

Itai pwe,Zanu, and we will bring a lot more cards than ours,more than 100 000.Itai pwee.

viola gwena - 5 August 2016

Chipinge is the place that resisted Mugabe's rule since 1980. It is the only district that even hindered Mugabe from forming a 1_party state after pf zapu and zanu joined hands. However that is now history. no need to claim credits. We should all fight to remove this oppressive, heartless, despotic regime that has its hands full of innocent blood. Aluta cotinua, Tajamuka, Sesijikile, hatichada and hatichada asisabe and asisafuni

magigwana - 5 August 2016

This war vet issue against Mugabe has nothing to do with Gukuranhundi and we must be clear. It has nothing to do with tribal conflicts, remember its not only the Ndebeles who were mistreated . have you forgot about the Ndebele shona uprising when the shona were butchered. Lets bury old wounds guys and focus on the pot in front

Mashyline - 5 August 2016

@mashyline,true,lets all unite to stop tsvangirayi as he is the of tribalism as sent by his masters who do not want to see blacks united,lets all heed the presidents call to unite

truth - 5 August 2016

Every tribe has historically been persecuted. The Shonas were raided and killed by the Ndebeles under Mzlikazi and Lobengula. The Ndebeles were massacred under the Mugabe regime. Earlier during the liberation war, the Manyikas were buried alive in makeshift graves after the death of Herbert Chitepo by the Zezurus. You just have to look at Presidential appointment to understand that this country has been dominated by Zezurus. For example, you have those heading police, ARMY AND PRISON SERVICES IN MATABELELAND BEING ZEZURUS.

dovi - 5 August 2016

Every tribe has historically been persecuted. The Shonas were raided and killed by the Ndebeles under Mzlikazi and Lobengula. The Ndebeles were massacred under the Mugabe regime. Earlier during the liberation war, the Manyikas were buried alive in makeshift graves after the death of Herbert Chitepo by the Zezurus. You just have to look at Presidential appointment to understand that this country has been dominated by Zezurus. For example, you have those heading police, ARMY AND PRISON SERVICES IN MATABELELAND BEING ZEZURUS.

dovi - 5 August 2016

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