Zimbabwe’s war veterans of the 1970s break with tradition saying they are campaigning for an opposition candidate in a by-election in Mashonaland West province following the expulsion of their leader Christopher Mutsvangwa from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party for allegedly denigrating the president and his wife, Grace, said to be harboring presidential ambitions.
The war veterans are backing independent candidate, former Zanu PF lawmaker Temba Mliswa, who was also expelled from the ruling party for teaming up with former Vice President Joice Mujuru and several other top party officials to allegedly attempt to unseat Mr. Mugabe.
The war veterans resolved to make this move following a heated meeting at Vimbai Primary School in Norton attended by former freedom fighters said to be backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The war veterans have over the years supported Mr. Mugabe’s party but have decided to dump the president saying he is to blame for the current social, economic and political problems in the country.
One of the war veterans, who attended the meeting, Joseph Chinyangari, said they won’t campaign for any Zanu PF candidate in future national polls.
Mliswa, who once contested Hurungwe West and lost to Kieth Guzah of Zanu PF, said he was happy that the war veterans are backing him noting that the former freedom fighters don’t belong to any political party.
But some Norton residents said they are sick and tired of people who want to represent them yet they don’t stay in the constituency. The residents claimed that such people are gold-diggers.
Mrs. Noctula Pawadyira, who lives in Katanga high density suburb, said they want someone who will understand their problems.
But Mliswa dismissed such remarks saying what matters most is a person’s capability of fighting for them.
He noted that the Norton by-election is a litmus test for the transparency of electoral process and set to measure the impact of recent nationwide protests against the ruling party and government.
Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo was not reachable for comment. About nine candidates will contest Zanu PF primaries on Saturday and a date of the election is yet to be announced.