Mujuru woos war veterans
By Fungi Kwaramba
Former vice president and now interim leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, has unveiled a team of war veterans who will bolster her party’s activities ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, and as the scramble for the key support of former freedom fighters heats up.
This comes as the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), whose members have until now been predominantly Zanu PF, has been waging a vicious campaign against its former patron, President Robert Mugabe, who is battling to contain his party’s deadly tribal, factional and succession wars.
Addressing the media in Harare yesterday, where Mujuru was also in attendance, war veterans aligned to ZPF said they were retracing their footsteps to the grassroots in a bid to ensure that all Zimbabweans benefited from the country’s independence.
“We want to apologise to the masses of Zimbabwe because we dumped them soon after independence. We are saying we are coming back to you. We want to listen and we want the problems that people are facing resolved,” the interim chairperson of the ZPF Freedom Fighters Council (FFC), Elliot Kasu, said.
“We have come up with a shared strategy. We would like to tell those who claim to represent us that an association is just an association and voluntary. You find out that there are war veterans in every political party and so people should not be forced to back any party.
“After the liberation struggle we were dumped and we continue to be dumped. So, we are saying let us go back to the 1980s,” Kasu, a retired military general whose nom de guerre was Advance Tsuro, said.
The secretary-general of the FFC, Frank Badza Nyaku, who is a former Zanu PF Midlands province executive member, told the Daily News later that they had been meeting with Mujuru to strategise about the way forward.
“We want to spruce up the operations of the party, particularly the war veterans’ and collaborators’ wing. The revolution was derailed following the liberation struggle and it continues to go off the rails up to this day. So, we have been figuring out where we went wrong.
“We entirely accept the blame for the fall of this country and the abandonment of the values of the liberation struggle. We did not realise our objectives because some of the forefathers were not there at the end and it was hijacked by some who wanted to build their names, yet their contribution was far less,” he said.
“As freedom fighters, we realised that if we follow People First, we will remove people from this dictatorship. We were used to put Mugabe in power and we were used to prop up his rule and maintain it until 2014 when we were hounded from the party.
“Of course, we are not representing all war veterans but we are freedom fighters and we hope that people will realise that war veterans did not fight for a certain party but for Zimbabwe. We know as war veterans that if we win elections it will be difficult for them to deny us power as they did with (opposition leader Morgan) Tsvangirai,” Nyaku added.
Mujuru has over the past few months been on a charm offensive to recruit war veterans to join ZPF, taking advantage of the worsening feud between Mugabe and many ex-combatants belonging to the ZNLWVA which is led by former Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.
These war veterans broke ranks with Mugabe 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 41-year relationship that dates back to the days of 1970s liberation war.
Over the years, war veterans have served as Mugabe’s 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. Daily News