IN a script reminiscent of the violent 2002 presidential election, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered the militant war veterans to mobilise in preparation for the 2023 national elections.
Addressing Central Committee members Saturday, Mnangagwa urged all party structures, including former liberation fighters, to start preparing for the 2023 plebiscite, which is some 28 months away.
“I challenge war veterans to display their wartime vibrancy and mobilisation acumen in preparation of the 2023 elections,” he said.
The last election was held in July 2018. However, Mnangagwa’s main challenger in the presidential election, Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance, up to now challenges his win accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of rigging the election in the incumbent’s favour.
The MDC Alliance is also demanding that local council and parliamentary by-elections, which the government have put on holding citing the Covid-19 pandemic, should be held.
Dozens of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors have been recalled from office by the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora and the People’s Democratic Party fronted by Lucia Matibenga on the grounds the affected politicians were no longer members of their respective parties.
In 2002, a then cornered Robert Mugabe, now late, was forced to rope in war veterans for his Zanu PF presidential campaign in rural and farming areas as he faced a stiff challenge from MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, also late.
However, the 2002 election turned bloody and was marred with widespread violence perpetrated by war veterans who unleashed terror in villages and farms killing over a hundred suspected MDC supporters, white farmers and their workers.
In recent elections, the ageing former fighters have been sidelined, but Mnangagwa now wants their support raising fears the 2023 elections might be violent as in the early 2000s.
“In our political mobilisation matrix, our women and youth leagues must not be left behind. I commend the Youth League for their recent successful mobilisation efforts,” Mnangagwa told party members.
“However, much more needs to be done by the Youth League structures at provincial, district, branch and cell levels to encourage their peers to join the party as voters.
“To this end, joint grassroots mobilisation activities between leagues of the party and its affiliate organisations must now saturate the political space.
“War veterans are challenged to display their unflinching war time vibrancy and mobilisation acumen as we prepare for 2023 elections,” said the President.
Turning to officials from rival opposition parties defecting to Zanu PF, Mnangagwa welcomed them and urged others to join in as “there is room for everyone in Zanu PF,” which is targeting a membership of five million supporters.
“More members from opposition formation are coming back home to join the revolutionary party – Zanu PF. Those who are still in the wilderness are invited to come back home. Our arms remain outstretched and there is room for everyone in the revolutionary party that brought about independence.”