The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association could be disbanded tomorrow because it has now become too political and is now being run along factional lines or it will be allowed to split into various groups ostensibly to represent different interests but ultimatelyto weaken the natinal association.
The veterans association is holding a crucial meeting with President Robert Mugabe tomorrow. Though this was initially dubbed as a no-holds barred meeting at which Mugabe might consider stepping down if the war veterans say so, the meeting is now likely to be a non-event as Mugabe has already whipped the veterans into line.
Mugabe has categorically stated that war veterans cannot dictate what the party should do. Instead, the party sets the pace.
“Hapana associoation inemvumo yekuti imire uko yoti inoda kuti party iyite zvakati. Hapana! Association inouya nemugwara reparty. Tese takayenda kuhondo hapana angambotitaurire kuti isu tirivemberi. Takayenda kuhondo tese. Asi kuhondo ikoko taiti politics leads the gun. Ikoko taiti isu party inoti chiyi gwara reparty nderipi,” Mugabe said at the weekend.
He warned veterans not toeing the party line that they would be fired from the party.
“Ndinoda kuti tirambe takabatana, tirambe tichitevera gwara. Ava vanouya nemativi kana nepasi vataiti zviye zvipfukuto ivavo ndovatinosungirwa kuona kuti tavabvisa mumusangano. Haungave nhengo yemusangano isingade kutevera gwara remusangano. Kana uchiyenda nerweseri uchida kuputsa musangano, uchiri nhengo here? Uchinekodzero here? Saka hatizvide izvozvo. Saka musangano ndiwo unotara gwara, musangano ndiwo unechinangwa,” Mugabe said.
A war veteran and former central committee member of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front said war veterans were now divided and had aligned themselves to factions within the ruling party.
There are two main factions, one aligned to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and another to the Young Turks going by the name of G40 who are aligned to First Lady Grace Mugabe.
“We went to war to liberate our country, to bring about democracy, one man one vote. So as war veterans, we should not be aligned to any faction because that is tantamount to usurping democracy. We should let the people decide and they can only decide through a vote,” the war veteran said.
The former Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army fighter said it was wrong to assume that all war veterans were ZANU-PF because there were some who had joined the Movement for Democratic Change or the Zimbabwe People First.
“You cannot strip anyone of his or her war veteran status simply because he or she is no longer a member of ZANU-PF. That is something they will remain until they die. So even if you expel people from the party, they remain war veterans. You cannot rob them of that.”
The veteran said that in his opinion, the war veterans association should now be disbanded because it was now engaged in factional politics and this did not advance the rights or grievances of war veterans.
“In my opinion, the association should now be disbanded because we now have a ministry responsible for war veterans. The ministry can address all the grievances of war veterans that were being handled by the associations. If it is not disbanded, veterans should be allowed to form several associations to cater for various interest groups,” he said.
But tomorrow’s meeting could rock ZANU-PF as there are some veterans who are adamant that Mugabe should now announce his plans to step down because he and his wife are destroying the party.
Mugabe insists that he must complete his term and will stand in 2018 because he was endorsed as the presidential candidate at the last party congress.
While Mugabe is constitutionally right, there are fears that he might die with the party if he hangs on in office as he may have to expel everyone until he remains alone in the party.
Tomorrow’s meeting might not be a true reflection of the veterans’ feeling as they have been whipped into line. Mugabe, and the G40, will have triumphed but he will only be leading a team of the unwilling.