HARARE, October 19 – Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans have reiterated opposition to President Mugabe’s candidature or the ascension of his wife, Grace, to the presidency ahead of next year’s elections.
The veterans of the 1970s struggle that freed Zimbabwe from British colonial rule said they would mobilise all former fighters and stakeholders within the ruling Zanu-PF to resist a Mugabe ‘fiefdom’.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairman, Christopher Mutsvangwa, said thousands of fighters have made sacrifices to liberate the country yet after 37 years of independence, too much power was vested in an individual (President Mugabe alone).
Mugabe (93) has been in power during that period while his wife (52) has wielded influence in recent years in line to ascend to the vice presidency and eventually succeed her husband of 21 years.
A faction informally known as the G-40 (Generation 40), consisting mainly of younger members of Mugabe’s party is advocating for the first lady to succeed Mugabe at the expense of people’s choice and deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The vocal veterans expressed opposition to such manoeuvres.
“A call by the war veterans is for the people of Zimbabwe to stand guard against possible abuse of state machinery to advance G-40 factional agenda,” Mutsvangwa said.
He said the ideal situation to resolve the succession debate in the liberation movement was to hold an elective special congress before the 2018 elections.
“Then the party can elect a new leader to represent the party in those elections,” Mutsvangwa said.
The war veterans favour Mugabe’s first deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to succeed the aged leader.
They have singled out Mugabe for wrecking the Southern African country’s vibrant economy through corruption and maladministration.
Relations between the 30 000-member association of war veterans and the ruling party have fractured after its leadership was axed from Zanu-PF for outspokenness against Mugabe’s regime.
Before relations strained, they were a key pillar to Mugabe’s longevity in power.
The “war vets” spearheaded violent campaigns against the opposition and led the seizure of white-owned farms since 2000.