Zimbabwe slams veterans as ‘traitorous’ rebels
The presidency was stunned at a communique issued on Thursday by the war veterans’ association – a key political ally – which called for the 92-year-old leader to stand down, accusing him of operating a dictatorship and running the economy into the ground.
On Saturday, the party struck back, alleging that the announcement was the work of “fifth column” rebels, with Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi telling state media that “thorough investigations” to “get to the root of the matter” were underway.
“Government … dismisses the said traitorous so-called communique, which is treasonable in the constitutional democracy that Zimbabwe is,” said Retired Brigadier-General Asher Tapfumaneyi, the most senior civil servant in the veterans ministry, in a statement on Saturday.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko added that, “When people start talking against their Commander-in-Chief it means that they’re now rebels”.
The move by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) caught the leadership off guard and lays bare the growing frustration at the country’s fragile economy.
The veterans also alleged the president had betrayed the values of the liberation struggle.
“We note with concern, shock and dismay the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle in utter disregard of the constitution, as demonstrated by the deliberate neglect and abandonment by the party president of the masses who are the foundation upon which the liberation war was fought and won,” the war veterans charged.
Political observers say the war veterans’ historic stand against Mugabe could be a politically decisive moment for Zimbabwe.
National political commissar for War Veterans, Francis Nhando called on Mugabe to resign describing him as a failure and thus a hard sell at the elections slated for 2018, for which Mugabe has already been declared the Zanu PF candidate.
“We are saying this country will only go up when Mugabe steps aside because his management is no-longer respected by anyone, including his own ministers,” said Nhando.
“If he announces his retirement date the economy will improve because there is nobody who will invest his money where the future is uncertain.
“Nobody will lend money to a 92-year-old and if he does not step aside, 2018 will be the most difficult year to campaign for us as war veterans”.
Political temperatures have been running high in recent weeks with the country experiencing sporadic protests against the deteriorating socio-economic situation.