Mugabe escalates fight with war vets

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday used the burial of the late Brigadier General James Murozvi to reignite his feud with war veterans — who he bluntly said were not special — in addition to rebuffing their growing calls for the nonagenarian to step down now and pave the way for a successor.

Most interestingly, Mugabe’s unexpected outburst was in stark contrast to Tuesday’s address by the commander of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, who paid a moving tribute to the war veterans for the role they played both in the country’s liberation struggle war and in Zanu PF.

Addressing mourners gathered at Murozvi’s burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, Mugabe told the disgruntled ex-combatants that they had no right to dictate to him how he was supposed to run Zanu PF.

“Not once did he (Murozvi) cause havoc, to say oh, government you are messing up. He was different in character from other people who think that when they are war veterans they have a right to dictate how things are run in the party. No, he was well focused.

“Yes, we are war veterans, we are back, we were fighting for the people of Zimbabwe, we have a party that leads us . . . not one that we have a right to lead.

“In that party, yes, we hope as war veterans to be recognised for the work we did, so that we agree with the ideology . . . as we should always agree that politics leads the gun.

“So, he (Murozvi) was a straight man. That is what we ask of you (war vets),” Mugabe thundered.

“That we have love and understanding, so that we have the right ideological direction that we are not any different from everyone else.

“We are together with them (ordinary citizens), that today we suffer together with everyone else . . . being a war veteran or anything . . . we should be united . . . there is no difference.

“There should be no difference. We must unite, being led by the party, Zanu PF . . . direction, direction, direction,” Mugabe, who turned up for yesterday’s solemn occasion sporting a shaved head, added.

NEW LOOK...President Robert Mugabe sports a new hairstyle at the National Heroes Acre. - Pic Annie Mpalume

The increasingly frail nonagenarian has been having a tough time with a large section of war veterans ever since they issued a scathing statement on him in mid July last year.

Some of the Zanu PF bigwigs who were at the National Heroes Acre yesterday told the Daily News that the 93-year-old’s statement was “worryingly at odds” with the effusive praise that Chiwenga had given the war veterans during a military parade for Murozvi at One Commando barracks on Tuesday.

“Your blood has indeed watered the Zimbabwe Flag as we used to sing during the war of liberation. You have fought your fight.

“Ours is to continue it, pursuing with vigour, our role as the war veterans of the liberation struggle, of being the ideological school of the nation, custodians of the revolution and the bedrock upon which our party, Zanu PF, shall continue to build itself for as long as we survive,” Chiwenga said in his speech then.

Former freedom fighters have been feuding with Mugabe ever since they broke their 41-year relationship with him mid last year, over their worsening plight and the country’s deepening political and economic rot.

Until that time, the fed-up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s pillars, waging particularly brutal campaigns against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections of 2000 and 2008.

Their stunning fallout with Mugabe and Zanu PF later saw their chairperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa, being fired from both the Cabinet and the ruling party last year, while many of their other top leaders were also banished from the imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before the courts.

Previous meetings to try and mend relations between the war vets and Mugabe have failed to resolve the stalemate, with the former freedom fighters setting difficult conditions for the nonagenarian, including that he ditches alleged Generation 40 (G40) kingpins such as Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and the ruling party’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.

In recent weeks, they have also ratcheted up their calls for Mugabe to retire and pave the way for his long time aide and deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to take over the reins at both party and government levels.

Since their fallout with Mugabe first burst out into the open, after they released their damning communiqué in which they savaged the Zanu PF leader before serving him with divorce papers, the ex-combatants have not missed an opportunity to take pot shots at Mugabe.

They have also claimed that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding rather contemptuously that the nonagenarian would be “a hard-sell” if he ever contemplated contesting next year’s presidential poll.

Mugabe responded to all this by warning the war veterans that they would be dealt with severely, including through the use of extra-judicial suppression methods that his former liberation movement incorporated during the country’s independence war — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats.

Immediately after this threat, police swooped on some of the war veterans executive members who were arraigned before the courts, which eventually set them free.

Comments (8)

Look at his fingers and tell me if its not a criminal offence that we let this old man continue leading a government. This is not right ! Who ever is cheering him on and on will be tried when he dise and cast to iternal hell. Let this man rest.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 13 April 2017

I wasn`t aware that Mugabe is in this state. This picture upsets me so much. I am even feeling guilty that I have been for all along criticizing him. I wish I had seen such a picture earlier. To him I am saying sorry vakuru, its never my intention to lambast people in your state. I am not a cruel man.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 13 April 2017

Masamba,its not being cruel criticising that old fool,,I call it excellent. That old man was supposed to be long gone because with him now people of Zimbabwe are suffering. I don't hate people except this old man. He is cruel&idiot,,no one can tell that man what to do,he is always right&he don't care any less about anyone except himself.Since day one in politics,he killed&until now he is killing. To hell with him&his old age,,,,,_President my foot!!!!!!!

Matsotsi - 13 April 2017

Unfortunately for the president, he created this monster called war veterans that now think they have an ownership of the country. Now they even have Children of War Veterans organisation to continue the noises as if their fathers were anything special. The very militarisation of politics when it suited Zanu PF and the president is the very scurge that has afflicted this country. Unfortunately too, it will be too hard to shake off. Here are the Chris Mutswangas et al who behave as if having been war veterans is a license to abuse even politicians they do not agree with. This rot started with Mugabe himself using the fighters to denigrate Ndabaningi Sithole and install him as president of Zanu PF. That there, was the begining of trouble. Yes, its true that politicians must preside over the military. But in Zimbabwe, that tenet has long been thrown into the dustbin with the aid of the same politicians ho benefited from that arrangement, Mugabe included. He created this monster, now he must deal with it!!!!

MR COOPER - 13 April 2017

Africans we are good at dishing out speeches, empty speeches, for that matter. Is it correct to say ''we suffer together''. That only happened before independence, after that it was Mugabe and zanu pf against the people. Rape, torture, murders, disappearance of opposition members has been the norm of Mugabe and zanu pf. Lies, lies, lies, lies and lies, we are fed up of lies by zanu pf as a whole. Let the truth be told, its 2017 not 1970s.

nhemacena - 13 April 2017

What are you saying? The war vets are nolonger the military.Both Mugabe & the war vets are now ordinary members of zanu pf ,therefor all politicians fr the same party who hav all of them the rights to argue over matters.The nolonger hav the guns but ordinary politicians.So the argument of politics leading the gun is misplaced.The only difference is that Mugabe is the leader of the party & the war veterans are only members in the lower ranks of the same party-if it ever is.

Addmore Gudo - 14 April 2017

The war vets no longer hav the guns but are now ordinary politicians-I INTENDED TO SAY

Addmore Gudo - 14 April 2017

@Nhemachena take another look at history. We never suffered together with Bob. He used us from the moment he was able to. He was against us from the start. That's how you can explain the torture and terror he spread across the nation even before independence. The war was about one man one vote because that's the only way he could get in power. Everything else was just propaganda to get followers

Ndosvotwa Mhani - 15 April 2017

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