Zimbabwe’s war veterans of the 1970s say President Robert Mugabe should step down for failing to properly run the country and cater for their needs.
The former freedom fighters told VOA Studio 7 that they are fed up with President Robert Mugabe’s rule as most Zimbabweans are suffering due to the harsh social and economic situation in the southern African nation.
Their fury stems from the suspension of their chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa, who has been recalled from parliament and fired from the ruling party for allegedly fanning factionalism.
They said they would fight to the bitter end to end President Mugabe’s dictatorship.
Mutsvangwa has been linked to a Zanu PF faction called Team Lacoste that is backing First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old president. Team Lacoste is said to be led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The two have denied that they are leading factions in the ruling party, which expelled former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her colleagues for allegedly attempting to topple Mr. Mugabe. The dismissed former Zanu PF members have dismissed these allegations as tailor-make to enhance Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding President Mugabe.
The war veterans say nobody will stop them from discussing succession issues in the party. Mutsvangwa’s war veterans group recently pledged support for protesters calling for social, economic and political transformation in Zimbabwe.
In a highly-charged meeting at Raylton Sports Club in Harare, the war veterans declared that they are fully behind Mutsvangwa despite his sacking from parliament and cabinet. They alleged that Mutsvangwa is being victimized for speaking against corruption.
Spokesperson for the National Liberation War Veterans' Association, Douglas Mahiya, told Studio 7 their leadership has been victimized over the years for speaking against corruption.
Mahiya claimed that Zimbabwean ministers are all corrupt. There was no immediate government reaction over these allegations.
Mahiya said the war veterans are also angry because despite the so-called great indaba they held a couple of months ago with their patron, President Robert Mugabe, all the resolutions made at the event have not yet been implemented.
He said if Zanu PF is sidelining them because they are now being seen as senior citizens, then all old people in the party should leave.
BOYCOTTING HEROES DAY
Abraham Tsikwa, a Mashonaland East representative, suggested to the meeting that war veterans should boycott this year's heroes celebrations to be held next month as a protest over the way the government is treating them.
Another war veteran, Hoyini Bhila, vice chairperson for Harare province, said war veterans have been marginalized and ill-treated for too long.
Bhila encouraged the war veterans to take the government head on.
A female war veteran, who only wanted to be identified as Nehanda Nyakasikana, said while they support President Mugabe and would back him in the 2018 presidential election, they are disturbed by the continuous firing of their leadership.
The war veterans allege that corruption by government ministers has brought the country to its knees. Dennis Ndlovu, another war veteran, stressed that they want government to take stern measures against all corrupt state officials.
The war veterans also called for an end to victimization over speaking out on President Mugabe’s succession. They claimed they have the right to speak on who they want to take over when Mr. Mugabe leaves office.
The war veterans’ meeting which is still underway, will come up with a communiqué on the actions they will take over their isolation by Zanu PF government.