Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

War vets are out of order

Veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation falling under the banner Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) have all but squandered the goodwill they earned last November in the aftermath of the ouster of then president Robert Mugabe after a military intervention spearheaded by General (rtd) Constantino Chiwenga.

Christopher Mutsvangwa (centre) speaks during a press conference in Harare. (Photograph: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)
Douglas Mahiya, Christopher Mutsvangwa (centre) and Victor Matemadanda (right) during a press conference in Harare. (Photograph: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)

Amidst the chaos that resulted from the sudden end of Mugabe’s 37-year rule, war veterans won over many people by presenting themselves as an apolitical force determined to unite all Zimbabweans regardless of their political differences.

At the time, ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, in particular, preached inclusivity, arguing that there was no longer any reason for Zimbabweans from differing political backgrounds to regard each other as enemies.

“All the political parties should embrace this (Mugabe ouster); they should support this move because we need a situation after this where there is inclusivity because no one person or political parties can solve our problems, so we want political convergence. We want people who are prepared to work together,” Matemadanda said then.

Sadly, the conduct of war veterans since the November “coup” has poked holes into the former liberators’ claim that they are a positive force for greater good.

In just a few short months, the war veterans have disappointed many Zimbabweans by demonstrating now and again that they are nothing more than a glorified unit of the ruling party.

The war veterans’ attack on MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa for petitioning the Constitutional Court to set aside the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s declaration of Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa as the winner of the July 30 presidential election exposes their partisanship.

How can the ZNLWVA attack Chamisa for challenging the presidential poll outcome in line with the country’s Constitution?

Judging by the disputed poll results, Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa. Therefore by attacking Chamisa’s decision to exercise a constitutionally-guaranteed right, the war veterans are also attacking the millions that voted for the MDC Alliance candidate. Clearly, this is not how an apolitical war veterans’ body behaves.

Matemadanda’s recent attempt to single out former president Mugabe as the only one responsible for the post-independence civil disturbances commonly known as Gukurahundi also smacks of dishonesty.

The ruling Zanu PF party, members of Mugabe’s Cabinet at the time and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are just as culpable as the former president, so Matemadanda’s attempts to rewrite history are a futile exercise.