By Fungi Kwaramba
Disgruntled war veterans have warned President Robert Mugabe of worsening civil unrest in the country if Zanu PF bigwigs continue with their mindless bloodletting, as well as their current crackdown on dissenting voices, including former freedom fighters.
Reacting yesterday to what he called the continued “persecution” of his family — as well as growing personal attacks on former Vice President Joice Mujuru — the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, also told the Daily News that Mugabe had “failed the nation”.
Matemadanda spoke in the wake of the invasion of his Karoi farm by Zanu PF youths linked to the ruling party faction going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), observing ruefully that ever since war veterans had started criticising the former liberation movement and its leaders, they and their families had not known peace.
Matemadanda, along with four other ZNLWVA leaders, were also recently arrested on charges of undermining the authority of Mugabe, and are currently out on bail.
However, he said yesterday, his family continued to be harassed by “vindictive” authorities.
“The continued harassment of my son who is a teacher at Kasimhure Secondary School in Karoi is a huge cause for concern. They want to mobilise people to demonstrate against him and hound him out of his job even though he has all the educational qualifications to be a teacher.
“However, these people (who allegedly include Zanu PF women’s league secretary for finance Sarah Mahoka) should know that I can retaliate. Mahoka is just a civilian and I am a trained soldier. They should not cry foul or arrest us when we fight back. We are going to defend ourselves and there will be bloodshed,” he warned.
His warning also followed Mugabe’s fierce attack on war veterans in June — when he threatened to deal severely with the disenchanted ex-combatants who stand accused of plotting to stampede the increasingly frail nonagenarian out of power and working to elevate embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the highest political office in the land.
On their part, the angry war veterans, who are led by former Cabinet minister Chris Mutsvangwa, have since gone on to dump Zanu PF as well and are now fraternising with anti-Mugabe groups such as Tajamuka/Sesijikile, as well as opposition parties, including the MDC and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).
Matemadanda warned yesterday that Zanu PF “should not attempt to stop” these budding alliances or move to crush demonstrations by the populace as this would backfire.
He also said it was wrong that Mugabe and Zanu PF were “hell bent on rewriting history” and sidelining war veterans such as Mujuru and Mnangagwa who had played key roles during the country’s liberation war.
“We are going to go around the country to tell the people about our history. Mugabe wants to remove the people he met during the war and there are a lot of machinations to get rid of everyone who has something to do with the country’s liberation struggle.
“It is very unfortunate that we have a government packed with Mugabe’s relatives who are trying to run this country from their backyard. They are abusing everyone. This should not happen in the country. A family should not run the entire affairs of the country.
“Can Mugabe fire his nephew even when he is not competent? We also demand an apology regarding the vilification of female war veterans. How can one claim that people like (Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister) Mandi Chimene is better than Mujuru?
“Can a child who is 17 years old refuse the orders of a commander? And how can such a woman be abused on different fronts, by her own and the enemy? We also want this government to tell us if the children from the war that we have were a result of consensual sex,” Matemadanda thundered.
Turning to George Rutanhire, the man who recently tore into Mujuru and accused her of having caused the death of some combatants during the war, he said those “with logs in their eyes should not lose sleep about the speck in other people’s eyes”.
“Can he tell us how many people he abused during the liberation struggle? We have five female comrades who are telling us that he sexually abused them. We want an apology from this person.
“We saying Mugabe is old. Everyone is seeing that. How can he also go for 34 years with Joice and allow people to abuse her now?” Matemadanda asked further.
Apart from facing rising anger from the opposition, Mugabe is also facing the biggest challenge of his political career as his ambitious underlings brawl about succeeding him, with some of them now standing accused of aiding the wave of protests ravaging the country.
Matemadanda said Mugabe had himself to blame for the current chaos as those people whom he had been sidelining would regroup and challenge him in future elections.
“She (Mujuru) was expelled from Zanu PF but because she is a politician, she formed her own party. She tried to complain and they did not listen. They must realise that there is life after Zanu PF. It is not her choice that she formed her own party but Mugabe’s.
“When Morgan Tsvangirai was the leader of ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) he was told you are talking politics, so form your own party and he did that. Now he is being labelled an agent of the West. But the truth is that Robert Mugabe is the real agent of the West.
“He (Mugabe) is the agent because he is fighting everyone. There is no rehabilitation in Zanu PF. He is the only one who will not go astray, is that normal?” he queried further.
In the meantime, riot police were awash in urban areas yesterday, including the capital Harare, after panicking authorities vowed to prevent further protests against the government.
While traffic was thin in Bulawayo, most towns around the country were open for business despite the call for a shutdown. Daily News