MDC defends 'persecuted' war vets

HARARE - The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC yesterday defended war veterans, saying “a cornered Zanu PF” is desperate to rewrite history but will not succeed.

Over the past few months, some veterans of the country’s liberation struggle have been persecuted and come under attack from President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party who threatened to unleash violence on them if they did not toe the party line.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said whatever Zanu PF is trying to do, the opposition party “will always show its support for and solidarity with all the toiling and down-trodden masses of Zimbabwe, regardless of political affiliation”.

“...the MDC shall continue to denounce the continued and uncalled for harassment of all genuine war veterans by the beleaguered and faction-ridden Zanu PF regime. We are a political party that tenaciously and resolutely believes in the rule of law as opposed to the rule by the law,” Gutu said.

He said “The MDC will never, ever celebrate the unlawful harassment and imprisonment of any Zimbabwean citizen, regardless of race, colour, creed or political affiliation. We are a modern day and progressive political party that believes in the respect and upholding of the fundamental human rights of all citizens of Zimbabwe”.

“False, malicious, misleading and defamatory stories are being written about revolutionary icons in the mould of the late...Mujuru,” Gutu said, adding that “the Zanu PF-controlled media has gone into overdrive trying to propagate the false and frivolous story that the MDC and the late General (Solomon) Mujuru are/were agents of the West; whatever that means”.

Gutu further stated that “no amount of puerile and vexatious mudslinging by the collapsing Zanu PF regime shall ever dissuade the MDC from continuing with its peaceful and democratic struggle for the establishment of a new Zimbabwe”.

War veterans — once Mugabe’s most loyal and key pillar of support — have since fallen out of favour with ruling party authorities.

Yesterday, they declared that they will be “referees” who will not be aligned to any political party.

Analysts say the annulment of the long relationship between war veterans and Zanu PF will be a boon for opposition political parties.

In an interview with the Daily News, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said “every Zimbabwean has a right to belong to a political party of their choice. Zimbabweans should be able to talk freely. I am not taking anyone’s side. We are the referees of all political parties to tell them why people died for this country”.

War veterans’ leaders were recently dragged to court on charges of undermining the authority of the president, allegations that stemmed from the famous communiqué in which they denounced Mugabe.

Apart from targeting living war veterans, the Zanu PF regime has, through its mouthpiece the Herald attacked the late national hero Solomon Mujuru accusing him of being the brains behind the mooted grand coalition of opposition parties.

And recent developments in the country’s political arena have apparently sent ruling party officials into panic mode as they fear a union between opposition leaders Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who now leads Zimbabwe People.

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