SINCE Independence, Zimbabwe’s liberation war fighters have been the bedrock for President Robert Mugabe’s continued stay in power.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
However, events in the last 10 months have seen a widening rift between the war veterans and their patron.
The fall out between Mugabe and the war veterans proves that Africa’s oldest leader has lost the plot as he continues to ignore growing calls for him to step down.
Mugabe, who has been showing signs of increasing frailty, is not even listening to the same people — liberation struggle fighters — that put him at the helm of Zanu PF in 1977, who are complaining that he has now outlived his usefulness. Tensions between Mugabe and the Chris Mutsvagwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) came to a head last weekend when the former freedom fighters dumped Mugabe as its patron after amending its constitution to replace a patron with a non-executive president.
The association’s spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya said, if Mugabe is chosen as the president then he would be accepted but if he falls by the wayside, someone else would lead the former fighters. In August, the war veterans leaders, who for the first time since the association’s formation in 1990 boycotted a speech by Mugabe at the National Heroes Acre to honour fighters of the country’s independence, called on Mugabe to step down. A month earlier in July, the war veterans had pointed out that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding that the nonagenarian would be a “hard-sell” if he contested in the 2018 presidential elections. Mugabe will be 94 in 2018.
Despite the war veterans adding their voice to the ever-growing chorus that Mugabe was becoming a liability to the country and has overstayed in office, there is still a coterie of sycophants surrounding him, and ridiculously pushing the resolution that he contests the 2018 elections.
These people are only doing this so that they can continue to have unfettered access to the feeding trough at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans who continue to wallow in poverty. Instead of heeding the call to resign, he has said he is surprised by the calls for him to step down in the middle of his presidential term ending in 2018.
“They (war veterans) have this thinking that the president has overstayed and should go,” Mugabe told a Bindura rally in March, adding that former army commander General Solomon Mujuru, who died in a mysterious fire in August 2011, had failed to get him to retire ahead of elections in 2008.
This just shows how detached Mugabe is from reality. It is shameful that he wants to hang on despite turning the country from the breadbasket of southern Africa to a basket-case. Just a fortnight ago at the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission in Harare, I felt sorry for Mugabe as he laboured to climb the very low steps to the podium at the Harare International Conference Centre. If Mugabe continues to ignore the calls, the consequences will be devastating for him and his party.