AS electioneering gathers momentum, war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has warned his members would respond violently if the MDC formations try to disrupt Zanu PF rallies and intimidate its supporters as the country gears for elections later this year.
Report by Elias Mambo
This is despite the fact than in the past, war veterans have been used by Zanu PF to perpetrate violence against its opponents during the pre and post-election period.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, the war veterans leader said his men and women are on the ground mobilising support for Zanu PF against the “foreign-funded MDC parties” who want to reverse the gains of the liberation struggle.
“I have warned them on several occasions and I am warning them again that any violence against a peaceful operation that is busy mobilising its support peacefully will breed counter-violence that may turn out to be seven times harder,” said Sibanda. “We are not a violent association; we want free and fair elections, but we will not sit back once our members are attacked.”
Sibanda said war veterans would not rest as long as the MDC formations are still represented in parliament and Zanu PF does not solely run government.
“We want to liberate that parliament because the MDCs have been used as missiles against their own people,” he said.
Sources say President Robert Mugabe, desperate to extend his 33-year stranglehold on power, has given the firebrand war veterans leader the nod to mobilise support countrywide ahead of the make-or-break elections.
War veterans have previously been accused of spearheading political violence and coming to Mugabe’s rescue since 2000 when Zanu PF party structures began to crumble after the entrance of the MDC into mainstream politics.
At the heart of Mugabe’s strategy to cling to power in the past was electoral violence spearheaded by war veterans who led chaotic farm invasions and played a central role in the terror campaign against Mugabe’s opponents.
Sibanda’s threats of violence are in stark contrast to Mugabe’s recent repeated calls for people to shun violence in the run-up to, during and after the next elections.
While Mugabe has been passionately denouncing violence his diehard lieutenants have been threatening bloodshed and even a coup should Zanu PF lose.
Army generals have vowed that they would not allow anyone without liberation war credentials to rule Zimbabwe.