Some Zimbabweans have expressed shock and disbelief with others welcoming a declaration by the National Liberation War Veterans' Association on Thursday that President Robert Mugabe is now a national liability and should resign over mis-governance and failing to revitalize the economy and deal with corruption that has devastated the southern African nation.
Over the years, war veterans have been loyal to President Mugabe but they decided to dump him following the recalling of their leader Chris Mutsvangwa from parliament and expulsion from Zanu PF for undermining the authority of the president.
In a communiqué released after their meeting in Harare, the war veterans claimed that “they note with concern, shock and dismay the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies personified by the president and his cohorts which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle in utter disregard of the constitution."
Reacting to the former freedom fighters’ move to dump Mr. Mugabe and abandon him ahead of the 2018 presidential election, Harare resident Lovemore Kadenge said he was stunned by the brazen stance taken by the war veterans at yesterday's meeting.
Another resident, Albert Chidhakwa, concurred, adding that it was embarrassing that the president’s close colleagues no longer have faith in him.
Describing President Mugabe as an allegedly stubborn person, Chidhakwa, however, said it was highly unlikely that he will heed the war veterans’ call to step down.
Alfred Dzirutwe, a political activist, said he was excited that finally the war veterans have realized that the president is a national liability.
“What the war vets have done shows that they have finally seen the light. We have been trying to enlighten them that things are not going the way they are supposed to and what they fought for. Only a few are enjoying the fruits (of liberation). Everyone now including the youth, the old people, the women … everyone actually is tired and sick of Zanu PF's mismanagement of the country. We hope the war vets will take action in solidarity with us.”
A political analyst, Kudakwashe Tsiga, said while he applauded the war veterans for speaking with the same voice with the masses, it was unfortunate that they are doing so when they have assisted in allegedly destroying Zimbabwe
“As you know the war veterans were beneficiaries of the state patronage system and they have been behind the collapse of the economy over the years. They have been beneficiaries of the land reform and other handouts given by the state. Now the state cannot afford to parcel out the benefits to the war vets. The cake has become smaller and smaller and the war veterans have been pushed away from the eating table and this has caused friction and the indispensability they thought they had. They have seen that they are dispensable after all.
“Things have come to a head and they have defined themselves and no longer want the president to lead the country. They have now joined the masses and we welcome them."
The clash between the war veterans and President Mugabe appeared to have been resolved when the Zimbabwean leader met with the former freedom fighters sometime this year and resolved to work together to tackle various issues.
However, the war veterans, who once received lump sums of $50,000 each in the 1990s after complaining bitterly of being neglected by Mr. Mugabe’s government, say the president has not fulfilled all the promises made at that meeting.
Zanu PF is currently gripped by factionalism pitting two camps that are fighting for the succession of the 92 year-old President Mugabe.
Manicaland Provincial Minister, Mandy chimene, who also claims to be the new leader of the war veterans association, said the former freedom fighters’ move is baseless as they were no longer members of the organization.
She claimed that Mutsvangwa and his group were expelled from the war veterans assocation for undermining the authority of the president. However, the war veterans insist that they are in charge and want Mr. Mugabe to go.