‘We didn’t go to war so that only a few people live cozy lifestyles while the majority swim in poverty’


War vets pile pressure on Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is under growing pressure from a section of war veterans, who say their fight is no longer about the welfare of neglected former liberation war fighters, but to change what they believe is the root cause of the suffering by ordinary Zimbabweans.

The declaration by the increasingly emboldened war veterans who say they have seized control of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) from Chris Mutsvangwa mirrors the last days of Robert Mugabe’s rein where the former fighters became more vocal about misgovernance and destruction of the economy.

As tension between the government and the ZNLWA faction led by Ethan Mathibela, police banned yet another public meeting organised by the former fighters that was scheduled for Bulawayo yesterday.

The group has made it clear that they are opposed to moves to change the constitution to allow Mnangagwa to stand for a third term.

Mnangagwa is serving his second and last five-year term ending in 2028 after first being elected president in the disputed 2018 election. A few months earlier he had risen to power after a coup that toppled Mugabe.

Zanu PF’s Masvingo province recently exposed the behind the scenes moves by Mnangagwa’s loyalists for a third term when they coined a slogan saying the president would still be in office beyond 2028.

Mnangagwa has not commented on the matter, but he has not hesitated to say that his government is pushing a Vision 2030 plan to improve the lives of long suffering Zimbabweans.

Zanu PF will hold its elective congress in 2027 to select the party’s presidential candidate to represent the former liberation movement in elections to be held the following year.

The ruling party enjoys a two-thirds majority to push through its favourable legislation, however, the third term bid requires a constitutional amendment.

Indications are that there are moves to by-pass the referendum through changing some laws to have a situation where the president is chosen by the party with a majority in Parliament.

ZNLWVA Bulawayo spokesperson Mathias Mambo said police blocked their meeting scheduled for yesterday at the last minute.

“This is the second time our meeting was being cancelled,” Mambo told The Standard in an interview.

“It was cancelled at the instigation of a rival war veteran’s faction within Zanu PF.

“Those war veterans that caused our meeting to be called off are getting trinkets such as money and cars from Zanu PF.

“They are in there for personal benefit and not the generality of war veterans.”

In a statement issued on Friday, Mathibela said they did not go to war so that only a few individuals live cozy lifestyles while the majority swim in poverty.

“Yet today, we witness the continued and unequal sharing of the national wealth,” he said.

“We have witnessed our own people being squeezed into a corner until all our able bodied children are running away from their own country.

“I urge you to turn back and stand your ground.

“Only the right people of Zimbabwe have a right to choose their own path to prosperity for this nation. Let us come and reason together.”

War veterans were instrumental in Mugabe’s removal from office.

It all started with a Blue Ocean document where the ex-combatants were complaining about the state of affairs in the country and then first lady Grace Mugabe’s manoeuvres to seize control of the fractured ruling party.

“We did not lay down our lives in order to change the skin of the colonial government…,” Mathibela said.

“The right to health, right to housing, right to respect, the right to justice, the right to freely vote and freely associate all apply to all of us and equally so.

“We refuse to talk about the welfare of the war veterans without first talking about the welfare of the average person.

“You (ordinary persons) are the reason why we went to war to get back our land, to get back our minerals, to get back our rightful heritage, to get back our wealth. “That is our welfare.”

Under Mnangagwa, there have been several reports linking the first family and his associates in business and politics to massive theft of the country’s resources.

Zimbabweans last year came face to face with how the country’s mineral riches were being looted by the elites when Al Jazeera’s investigative Unit premiered the Gold Mafia documentary.

The documentary painted a grim picture of a complex web involving criminal gangs, corrupt officials, and powerful political and business figures who were profiting from the exploitation of this precious resource. The Standard.

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