PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe threatened to punish veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war who last week criticized him and said they wouldn’t support him in elections in 2018.
Speaking to supporters in Harare, the capital, Mugabe, 92, said his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was trying to discover who released a document last week from the war veterans that described him as “a leader who has presided over untold suffering of the general population for his own personal aggrandizement.”
“We have assigned some leaders in the party to investigate the origins of this document and give the names of those distributed it,” Mugabe said. “They will be punished severely.”
Opposition to the government has swelled as the southern African nation faces an unprecedented liquidity crisis that’s led to civil servants, including the military, receiving salaries late and some private-sector workers receiving goods instead of salaries. That sparked a national strike on July 6 that shut down much of Zimbabwe. The country was also hit by riots as taxi operators protested against what they said was police harassment.
Mugabe repeated his allegations that western governments including the U.S. and France were trying to foment opposition to his administration. He also warned Baptist pastor Evan Mawarire, the 39-year-old leader of the #ThisFlag movement, against getting involved in politics. Mawarire has called for protests against the government.
“Once you begin to get involved with our politics, you are courting real trouble,” Mugabe said. “We know how to deal with our enemies who have been trying all along to effect regime change.”-Bloomberg