Mugabe party ditches liberation war fighters after fallout
A fortnight ago, the former fighters issued a scathing communique calling on Mugabe to step down for allegedly ruining the economy and overstaying in power.
Mugabe reacted angrily to the rebuke, leading to the arrest of four leaders of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) on charges of insulting the 92 year-old leader.
We were not supposed to be aligned to any party in the first place
Zanu PF on Thursday said it had expelled the four from the party but ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya scoffed at the decision, saying it had liberated the war veterans.
“We were not supposed to be aligned to any party in the first place because people in opposition parties such as MDC-T, Zimbabwe People First, Zapu and others were part of the struggle,” Mahiya told NewsDay newspaper.
“War veterans are supposed to be referees in the country’s political games as well as custodian of the ideals of the liberation struggle.”
Last week, Mugabe had vowed that Zanu PF would punish the war veterans behind the communique demanding his resignation saying they were being sponsored to sow divisions in the ruling party.
The former fighters wanted Mugabe’s deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over power. However, Mugabe’s long time loyalist last week said he had no connections with the war veterans or a Zanu PF faction that wanted to topple the Zimbabwean leader.
Before the fallout with Mugabe, war veterans played a key role in mobilising support for the ruling ahead of elections.
The former fighters were behind the deadly violence that rocked the country during a controversial land reform programme that began in 2000 that displaced over 4 000 white commercial farmers.
They were also blamed for electoral violence that rocked the country in the past decade. The worst violence was recorded in 2008 when Mugabe lost the first round of presidential elections to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai was forced to pull out of a run-off poll after tens of his supporters were murdered by Zanu PF supporters, including war veterans.
The relationship between the war veterans and Mugabe started showing signs of a strain early this year after ZNLWVA members tried to protest against First Lady Grace Mugabe but were teargassed by the police.
The former fighters do not want the president’s wife to take over when he finally leaves the scene.