MUTARE, MANICALAND —
Some war veterans in Manicaland say they want to be part of an open debate on President Robert Mugabe’s succession.
The former freedom fighters say an open debate will curb the worsening political crisis in Zanu PF.
One of the liberation war veterans and Zanu PF member in the region, Ivan Mbengo, told Studio 7 the issue of leadership renewal in the ruling party has to be debated openly to avoid political machinations in the party that continue to grow due to a closed debate that does not include all stakeholders.
Mbengo said by not opening the debate to war veterans in particular, irreparable damage is being done to the party.
He said President Mugabe and other war veterans in the government should not let down the thousands of freedom fighters who lost their lives in the liberation struggle.
“On the issue of succession if we war veterans and our commander in chief President Robert Mugabe fail to leave Zimbabwe with a legacy of united party, united country, peaceful nation and prosperous and well governed, we will have failed our fallen comrades.”
Mbengo, who said he is speaking on behalf of many veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle concerned by the goings-on in Zanu PF currently, added that Zanu PF should hold conferences and open debates that should objectively look at who can succeed the president without undermining his authority.
“The issue of succession must be debated first by all war veterans openly and meeting held all over the provinces and hold conferences to even choose who would succeed our iconic leader comrade Mugabe when the time arrives, even when you look at the USA, those that take the reins are mostly Vietnam veterans.”
Mbengo, a holder of a doctorate in Policy Studies and International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe, and current Zanu PF Ward Eleven chairperson in the City of Mutare, said war veterans should be given a greater say in the succession debate.
“We war veterans should be given that allowance to choose who would lead Zimbabwe. It has to be done openly to avoid cases of factionalism that are haunting the party as we speak. Open debate does away with what we are seeing; the fights for positions.”
The former liberation fighter said nothing tangible normally comes out of large gatherings such as the forthcoming Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls.
“What we have is a conference where there are more than 700 people and we cannot meaningfully discuss such serious issues with such a huge crowd.”
He stressed that leadership renewal is crucial for Zanu PF’s survival.
“The people who call the shots should be given a chance to air their views. We believe in organisational and leadership renewal because if we fail to do so we are faced to imminent death of a party and a movement called Zanu PF.”
His sentiments were echoed by other war veterans like Systems Machipanda, also of Mutare, who said the succession and leadership renewal debate in Zanu PF should be open.
Machipanda said Zanu PF stakeholders have a role to play in the political chess game that will produce the person to succeed their 91-year old leader who turns 92 in February.
Alex Muchena, a war veteran from Muchena village in Old Mutare, agreed, adding only things that are done in secret have the potential of destroying their beloved Zanu PF.
The succession issue has divided Zanu PF into factions as groups try to position themselves in the event Mr. Mugabe decides to retire.
President Mugabe’s wife, Grace, incensed many at the weekend by saying her husband could run Zimbabwe until he turned 100 and even if he was in a wheelchair or blind.