Stampede for war veterans' support

HARARE - Amid claims that President Robert Mugabe is dangling huge sums of money to win back the support of disgruntled war veterans, former Vice President Joice Mujuru has set up a committee to also reach out to the ex-combatants.

Liberation struggle stalwart and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) elder, Rugare Gumbo, told the Daily News yesterday that the party had set up a steering committee to ensure that war veterans were “properly organised”.

“We know the importance of war veterans and we are ready to work with all of them. However, the problem with war veterans now is that they are divided and we need to come together as one,” he said.

While Gumbo would not disclose how exactly Mujuru planned to reach out to the ex-combatants, other party insiders revealed that fearless former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda was earmarked to lead the initiative.

“Jabu (Sibanda) was supposed to come to the meeting we had last week but did not attend because he was informed at very short notice.

“But he is still one of us and he will attend future meetings. War veterans should be organised and we are working towards that,” Gumbo said.

The scramble for the support of the former freedom fighters has become even more critical amid suggestions that many of the war veterans who are unhappy with Mugabe and Zanu PF support Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, said members of his organisation stood ready to work with all war veterans, including Mujuru.

“She is a war veteran and she should work with war veterans . . . We will work with her, although this does not necessarily mean joining her party. We are never going to join any party, as we will remain referees,” he told the Daily News.

Analysts have said the nasty and public fallout between Mugabe and restless war veterans in July this year probably marked the beginning of the end for the increasingly frail nonagenarian’s long tenure in power.

In the stunning development, ZNLWVA served divorce papers on Mugabe — marking the end of a political relationship that dates back to 1975 when freedom fighters catapulted the 92-year-old to the leadership of the ruling party.

Until then, war veterans had served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s political power dynamos, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of MDC supporters.

But to the utter disbelief of many Zimbabweans, the liberation struggle fighters said pointedly at the time that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding almost maliciously that the nonagenarian would also be “a hard-sell” if he contested the watershed 2018 presidential elections.

“We are saying this country will only go up when Mugabe steps aside because his management is no longer respected by anyone, including his own ministers,” war veterans’ political commissar, Francis Nhando, told journalists during a media briefing in Harare.

“If he announces his retirement date now, the economy will improve because there is nobody who will invest his money where the future is uncertain. Nobody will lend money to a 92-year-old and if he does not step aside, 2018 will be the most difficult year to campaign for us as war veterans.

“How do you campaign for someone you do not like and who does not like you either? The relationship between us as war veterans and the president has broken down, he and the party don’t like us anymore,” he added.

Comments (4)

There is a problem...something is just not right. Is Jabu still in it? He has been absenting himself too much even when it matters most to show his colours. Why is he fading out of the front seat?

Lloyd C Mabhoyi - 8 November 2016

I for many,will not even bother listeni g to Mujuru.She hated war vets when she was the " the next president" of Zim.She had no time for us,even us women combarts who she knew from 70s.Until she explains this calous behaviour ,dump squib.Its our turn not to like her.

viola gwena - 9 November 2016

War veterans all over the world are the back bone of the society and political development in any country. Its only in Zimbabwe where RGM, because he is not a war veteran himself where they been scorned by even his young wife.

amina - 9 November 2016

Cde Jabulani Sibanda must not entertain these Gukurahundists...ZANU and ZFP.....He not be stupid to be hoodwinked to these Parties....

silungsani ndlovu - 10 November 2016

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