War vets at­tack ‘be­gin­ning of the end’ for Mu­gabe

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

HARARE — Zim­babwe’s war vet­er­ans’ sur­prise at­tack on Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe sig­nals the “be­gin­ning of the end” for the long-time leader, al­ready buck­ling un­der pres­sure from a restive pop­u­la­tion an­gry over wors­en­ing eco­nomic woes.in a rare pub­lic re­buke to the world’s old­est pres­i­dent, war vet­er­ans de­cried Mu­gabe’s “dic­ta­to­rial ten­den­cies” and vowed to with­drawal their sup­port if he seeks re-elec­tion in 2018.

“This is the be­gin­ning of the end for Mu­gabe,” said Takavafira Zhou, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist from Masvingo State Univer­sity.

“The war vet­er­ans have re­alised Mu­gabe is sink­ing and with him his regime. They don’t want to sink with the ship,” said Zhou.

For decades, the war vet­er­ans who fought in the 1972-1979 war of in­de­pen­dence have propped up Mu­gabe as the “heart and soul” and “foot soldiers” of the rul­ing Zanu-pf party, said an­a­lyst Charles Lau­rie of Lon­don-based risk con­sul­tancy Verisk Maple­croft.

‘Mu­gabe must go’ But dur­ing a meet­ing last week, the war vet­er­ans said their re­la­tion­ship with Mu­gabe, 92, was se­ri­ously dam­aged.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween us as war vet­er­ans and the pres­i­dent has bro­ken down. He and the party do not like us any­more,” the war vet­er­ans’ po­lit­i­cal com­mis­sar Fran­cis Nhando said.

The rul­ing party last week launched a project to re­ward party loy­al­ists with hous­ing plots, but ex­cluded war vet­er­ans who over the years were given first pri­or­ity in party and gov­ern­ment projects.

“We very an­gry with what the pres­i­dent is do­ing,” Beta Gu­vheya, a war vet­eran, told AFP.

“There is no money in this coun­try not be­cause the coun­try is poor... but we don’t have a man­ager,” said Gu­vheya.

“That is the rea­son we are say­ing Mu­gabe must go. Mu­gabe is not go­ing to win an elec­tion. No one is in­ter­ested in Mu­gabe’s gov­ern­ment now.”

Rock bot­tom For­mer war vet­er­ans leader Jabulani Sibanda said: “We have reached rock bot­tom. Peo­ple are an­gry.”

Sibanda who was ex­pelled from Zanu-pf party for warn­ing over the ex­ces­sive in­flu­ence of Mu­gabe’s wife Grace, said the coun­try’s lead­er­ship “has lost touch with re­al­ity”.

“By with­draw­ing sup­port for Mu­gabe, the war vet­er­ans have dealt a se­ri­ous blow to the em­bat­tled dic­ta­tor,” said Lau­rie, ad­ding that their “procla­ma­tion seems to mark a de­ci­sive break with Zanu-pf”.

Edi­tor of the pri­vately-owned Zim­babwe In­de­pen­dent Du­misani Mu­leya said the coun­try was in un­char­tered ter­ri­tory.

“The war vet­er­ans’ his­toric stand against Mu­gabe could be Zim­babwe’s po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sive mo­ment. It might be a turn­ing point of epoch-mak­ing pro­por­tions,” Mu­leya said.

Mu­leya warned that if the war vet­er­ans joined forces with the na­tional re­sis­tance move­ment driven by civic groups, churches and op­po­si­tion par­ties, Mu­gabe “could soon face his Water­loo”.

The coun­try has in re­cent weeks been hit by protests in­clud­ing a mass strike called by an evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor Evan Mawarire, which shut

busi­ness ear­lier this month.

“I am glad ev­ery­one is stand­ing up” (against Mu­gabe), said Sibanda.

‘Trea­son’ Au­thor­i­ties in Zim­babwe on Satur­day de­nounced the war vet­er­ans’ state­ment as “trea­son­able” and “trai­tor­ous” and said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing its ori­gin and threat­ened to pros­e­cute the authors.

Start­ing in 2000, the war vet­er­ans led seizures of white-owned com­mer­cial farms in what Mu­gabe said was a re­ver­sal of im­bal­ances from the colo­nial era.their state­ment came in the wake of a surge of pub­lic anger against Mu­gabe, trig­gered by an eco­nomic cri­sis that has left banks short of cash and the gov­ern­ment strug­gling to pay its work­ers.

Mu­gabe’s party is split be­tween his wife Grace and vice-pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa as Mu­gabe’s pos­si­ble suc­ces­sors.

— AFP

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