By Mugove Tafirenyika
Angry war veterans have ratcheted up their worsening feud with President Robert Mugabe and alleged Generation 40 (G40) kingpin, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo — provocatively telling Zimbabwe’s long-ruling leader that the hated late Rhodesian prime minister, Ian Douglas Smith, had been a more formidable adversary to them than the increasingly frail nonagenarian.
Zanu PF bigwigs who spoke to the Daily News last night said the renewed and fierce attack on Mugabe by the disgruntled former freedom fighters — which echoes their damning communiqué of earlier this year which sealed their nasty fall-out with the nonagenarian — meant that the prospects for a much-needed reconciliation between the two parties ahead of the watershed 2018 national polls were now virtually “less than zero”.
The scathing attack on Mugabe by the fed-up ex-combatants yesterday came as Zanu PF heavy honchos have recently been trying desperately to heal their ugly rift with the disaffected liberation stalwarts, including attempting to woo them back with wads of cash, top-of-the-range vehicles and land.
Addressing the media in Harare, the forthright former Cabinet minister and Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa, also said Mugabe owed ex-combatants as they were the ones who had made him president, not Zanu PF or the founding fathers of armed resistance to colonial rule.
“It was us who sat and made sure that Mugabe became the leader when the need to change leadership arose. We are the ones who sold his name to the people. It is not from the founding fathers (that this happened), it was because of the founding army ZIPA (the Zimbabwe People’s Army),” he said.
“We sold his and (the late Vice President) Joshua Nkomo’s name to every village. It is the liberation army that made the leadership of Zimbabwe, not the other way round. He (Mugabe) is a beneficiary of the decisions we made when we deposed (Zanu founder Ndabaningi) Sithole.
“We will never fear anything in this country because the most fearful thing which existed was called Ian Smith and we defeated him. After Smith, we don’t fear anything,” the former War Veterans minister bellowed defiantly.
The fall-out between Mugabe and the ex-combatants burst into the public domain in July after they released a damning communiqué in which they savaged the Zanu PF leader before serving him with divorce papers, and bringing to an end a relationship that dates back to the days of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war.
The war veterans also said pointedly that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding almost maliciously that the nonagenarian would be “a hard-sell” if he ever contemplated contesting the 2018 polls. Mugabe responded by warning the war veterans that they would be dealt with severely, including through the use of extra-judicial suppression methods that his former liberation movement incorporated during the country’s independence war — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats.
After this, police duly launched a savage crackdown against the war vets leadership and arrested five officials, including ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda and spokesperson Douglas Mahiya who were recently set free by the courts.
Over the years, war veterans have served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s political power dynamos, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.
Analysts have also predicted that Mugabe will not win the 2018 polls without the support of the war veterans, while on their part the ex-combatants have vowed that they will vote for an opposition candidate if the nonagenarian stands in those elections.
Turning to Moyo and the G40 group, which is said to be rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, the war veterans — who are solidly behind the Midlands godfather — described them as insignificant, “dull and completely unintelligent”.
“Jonathan is trying to induce an element of intimidation and fear saying because I am close to the apex of power, I can threaten, I can intimidate and I can have punishment meted out against us, but revolutionaries never fear other revolutionaries and we will never fear anything in this country because the most fearful thing which existed was called Ian Smith and we defeated him.
“So Jonathan’s efforts to try and make scare crows out of the centre of power, calling us successionists … we dismiss it like a duck takes water off its feathers. We only respect each other as revolutionaries. We have no fear of anybody,” Mutsvangwa said.
“They are dull, and a completely unintelligent bunch this G40, intellectually barren and dumb. I have never suffered so much ignorance as I did during my time, in Cabinet and once you have no history you have no future. Where the G40 is there is no party because the party is with the people. Their barrenness is evident from the way the economy is performing. You can’t see even a crane tower building skyscrapers for almost two generations and the G40 has been in power,” he added.
War veterans have also previously accused Moyo and Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere of sowing divisions within the warring former liberation movement.
The duo also stands accused of imposing candidates, abusing social media to spew party secrets and to badmouth party bigwigs, and working to drown and sideline party officials perceived to be allies of Mnangagwa. The war veterans have also publicly asserted earlier this year that Mnangagwa should succeed Mugabe, further warning that if the Midlands godfather is overlooked in the divisive succession process, blood could be shed in the country.
After amending their constitution recently, which saw them scrapping the post of patron which was occupied by Mugabe, the war veterans also warned then that they would only work with the nonagenarian again if he jettisoned the G40.
But addressing war collaborators, ex-detainees and ex-restrictees at a crucial indaba in Harare a fortnight ago, Mugabe lashed at Mutsvangwa and his ZNLWVA executive for allegedly misleading ex-combatants — and reminding them that “politics leads the gun”.
Mugabe also flatly refused to give in to demands that he ditches G40 kingpins as a pre-condition for the vets to support Zanu PF in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections. Daily News