A ZANU PF politburo member who became a symbol of resistance against former president Robert Mugabe’s regime stirred a hornet’s nest over the weekend by insinuating that former liberation war fighters will not accept an MDC Alliance victory at the impending polls.
Victor Matemadanda — a deputy minister of War Veterans and secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva) — was recorded in Gokwe while taking a dig at MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who is among the 23 candidates taking part in the presidential poll on Monday.
Amid independent opinion polls showing the narrowing of the presidential race between the MDC Alliance leader and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF, Matemadanda has emerged in a video recording declaring before villagers in Gokwe that the ex-combatants will reject a Chamisa victory.
He said the boisterous war veterans could not enjoy their youth in order to end colonial rule and would not allow the youthful Chamisa to reverse the gains of the bush war.
“The western world imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to try and remove Mugabe from power but they failed yet it did not take us six months to remove him because we knew him well,” Matemadanda could be heard saying.
“Now that we have removed Mugabe, a child who comes from Gutu comes along and says ‘I am Chamisa’ and he wants spoil the party. How does he do that? When we were in school we used to say ‘it can’t’. If you want to have blood pressure, go and vote for such people.
“Some of us we did not enjoy our youth because of the war then we watch the land being taken, taken to where? Comrades, and war collaborators who died for this nation did their part and it is now clear that the country will not go back where they came from,” said Matemadanda.
His remarks contradict pledges by his boss, Christopher Mutsvangwa — chairperson of Znlwva — who told the Daily News last week that the former liberation war fighters would embrace the will of the people as expressed at the polls.
They also fly in the face of Mnangagwa’s administration which has been preaching peace and nonviolence since it came into power in November last year through a soft coup that ended Mugabe’s reign, after 37 years of misrule.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Matemadanda confirmed making the statements but said there should be a difference between political activism and policy and that people should not take banter seriously.
Instead, the Znlwva secretary-general lashed out at Chamisa for attempting to incite Zimbabwe into mutinying with just six days left before the polls.
“Chamisa is finished. There is no leader in Chamisa; he should stop the blame game. I respect the young man but we should sit down with him and teach him. It’s unfortunate that Morgan (Tsvangirai) is dead and we have been left with this young man who doesn’t know where he is going,” said Matemadanda.
“He imposed himself; he wants to take the country’s laws to Gutu just as Mugabe had done by taking the law to Zvimba. He should respect institutions starting with the MDC. He is a product of one centre of power, he should subject himself to legitimacy. As far as we are concerned, the proper leader of the MDC is Thokozani Khupe,” he said.
He said the MDC Alliance’s demonstrations against Zec were just a sign that the opposition was running scared and thus is now seeking scapegoats.
Matemadanda said the people of Zimbabwe will not allow the MDC Alliance to foment chaos in the country.
“We are at the forefront of promoting peace. If Chamisa wants to cause violence, the people of Zimbabwe and not war veterans will react. I don’t know what the people will do but they will react…,” said Matemadanda.
Veterans of the country’s independence have often been accused of orchestrating a reign of terror to cow people into voting for Zanu PF.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said war veterans have no power to stop the people’s power.
“People like Matemadanda are living in history. He has no power to stop the people from making the voices heard. Those statements that he made are very irresponsible and Matemadanda needs to climb down and act like the adult that he is,” said Sibanda.
Ahead of next Monday’s crucial general elections — some observers said the ruling party — whose past electoral victories have been contested — will only harvest the fear that still pervades most rural areas where some people still wear the scars, physically or mentally, of the 2008 presidential election runoff.