War veterans must be loyal, disciplined
THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association is an affiliate of the ruling Zanu-PF party having been formed specifically as a welfare organisation to champion the cause of former freedom fighters. Its mandate is to look after the welfare of ex-combatants and it has done impeccably well in this regard with its notable success being the Z$50 000 gratuity it managed to convince Government to pay war veterans in 1997.
President Mugabe acceded to the ex-fighters’ request given the dire situation most of them found themselves in and the need to recognise their sterling role in the liberation struggle.
Over the years, Government has continued to look after the welfare of war veterans despite the economic challenges bedevilling the country. On their part, the former freedom fighters have remained loyal to the ruling party and played a big role in ensuring that the gains of independence are preserved by campaigning for Zanu-PF — the party to which they are affiliated. Government has also elevated the status of ex-combatants by making them a reserve force falling under the Ministry of Defence.
It has also created a ministry specifically to cater to their needs and it is superintended by a war veteran Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube. As an affiliate, the ZNLWVA cannot dictate to Zanu-PF which is why we find a statement released by a rogue group of war veterans in Harare last Thursday in which they cut ties with President Mugabe and called on him to resign, quite mischievous and regrettable.
Couched in the language of opposition groups and other reactionaries, the statement was treasonous in that it called for the removal of a legitimately elected President who still has two years of his term to complete. State security agencies have launched an investigation to find out who was behind the traitorous communique but all indications point to the hand of Mr Christopher Mutsvangwa, the ZNLWVA chairman who was booted out of Government, Parliament and Zanu-PF for dabbling in succession politics.
The statement also appeared to have been written prior to the war veterans’ meeting and we wonder if the generality of the membership of the ZNLWVA were consulted before it was read out. Most ex-combatants have since disowned the document with ZNLWVA spokesman Cde Douglas Mahiya telling our sister paper,
that the association was also carrying out its own investigations.
Cde Headman Moyo, who chaired the Thursday meeting, has also reportedly distanced himself from the document. “Most of those we have talked to so far say they had nothing to do with the communique. They are suggesting that the document was authored before the meeting and then presented there to try and legitimise it.
“What makes us angry is that if there are people who have taken positions on certain matters, they should at least have the spine to stand by those positions instead of hiding behind the association and tarnishing all war veterans in the process,” a war veteran said.
We find the attempt to use war veterans to push the nefarious agendas of certain individuals unacceptable and urge the former freedom fighters to immediately convene an extraordinary congress to elect a new leadership which is disciplined and focused on championing their cause.
As their patron, President Mugabe has been instrumental in taking care of the welfare of ex-combatants and deserves their respect. As a reserve force, the ex-fighters should be disciplined and never cast aspersions on their Commander in Chief. Such treasonous behaviour has no place in Zimbabwe.
We are also baffled as to whose agenda the authors of the treasonous statement are pushing because Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom some war veterans have in recent months claimed they are campaigning for to assume the highest office in the land, has trashed such claims, describing them as “nonsense, absolute nonsense”.
VP Mnangagwa also dismissed calls by some war veterans for President Mugabe to resign. In an interview with the VP also made it clear he had nothing to do with the clique of rogue war veterans who are trying to push President Mugabe out of office and replace him with Cde Mnangagwa at both ruling party and Government level.
He said all war veterans should remain loyal to their Commander-in-Chief. “I watched ZBCtv (on Friday and learnt) that they made a statement, but I haven’t read it. If they said the President must resign, then that is nonsensical. If they are true war veterans, the President is their Commander-in-Chief and they must be loyal and committed. I don’t think those who say such things are loyal or genuine war veterans. They must be loyal,” the VP said.
We commend Cde Mnangagwa for distancing himself from the statement by rogue war veterans and urge security agencies to get to the bottom of the matter.