THE MDC Alliance is mulling setting up a war veterans’ wing to represent ex-combatants in the opposition camp following a fallout with their counterparts in the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA).
MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume told NewsDay yesterday that plans were afoot to form a war veterans’ wing in the opposition coalition that has since morphed into a single party under Nelson Chamisa’s leadership.
“There was a suggestion when president (Nelson) Chamisa was welcoming National People’s Party (NPP) members, some of whom are war veterans, to the MDC Alliance that there is a need to have a war veterans wing in the party,” he said.
Over 200 NPP members led by senior party officials such as former Zanu PF official Dzikamai Mavhaire recently defected to the MDC Alliance after ditching Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru’s NPP has suffered defections of low and high-ranking officials, including her deputy Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, following the party’s poor showing in the general elections.
Mafume added: “Obviously, it is a process. It is something that will be submitted to our organs to see how it can be worked out, the modalities and framework for a war veterans’ wing.”
Speaking at the official welcome ceremony of the former National People’s Party (NPP) members at the party Headquarters last week, party President Nelson Chamisa expressed concern over the welfare of the liberation fighters lambasting defense deputy minister and war veterans Secretary General Victor Matemadanda for being selfish.
“Matemadanda iyezvino akazorwa nhopi, vana Mahiya kana domwe zvaro re nhopi haana kana kupuhwa..,(Matemadanda is now enjoying alone yet others like Mahiya have nothing)
“We want our war veterans to be respected for the role that they played and this is the beginning of what we want to do.
“We now have a focus to go into the rural areas, our focus has always been urban focused, but without rural focus and going forward you will see that starting from this election, we want to reverse. More votes must come from rural areas,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa added that in rural areas Zanu PF enjoys a forced support as it beat people adding that a party that connects with people and cares for their livelihoods will not coerce people into submission.
The 40- year- old opposition leader pleaded with war veterans stalwart and former NPP Chairperson Dzikamai Mavhaire, who led a delegation from NPP among them a cross section of liberation war heroes, to descend into the rural areas to hear the issues the rural folks have.
“We want the liberation icons like Mavhaire and the rest of you. We want integrate both the old and the young so that we go forward,” Chamisa said.
Former Gwanda South legislator Ekem Moyo, who is also the secretary-general of the independent Liberators Peace Initiative, said formation of an MDC Alliance ex-combatants wing was long overdue.
“Its influence cannot be downplayed.
It is necessary, yet long overdue,” Moyo commented.
Zanu PF has been quick to turn to war veterans for support during elections, and the latter have not hesitated to plead for freebies.
In 1997, angry war veterans pressured former President Robert Mugabe to pay them ZW$50 000 gratuities and other benefits for their role in the liberation struggle.