HARARE – War veterans have thrown their weight behind the mooted opposition coalition, saying they hope it could provide solutions to the country’s myriad problems, including their poor welfare.
This comes as MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai — the kingmaker of the opposition parties’ alliance ahead of 2018 elections — has been holding private meetings with ex-liberation fighters and top military officials in a bid to rope them to his side.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said the former freedom fighters will back the coalition if “it supports the principle of the liberation struggle”.
Asked whether war veterans back the idea of the mooted grand coalition, which many believe would end President Robert Mugabe’s long rule, Mahiya said the ex-combatants firmly believe in the will of the people.
“If the coalition follows the principles that people died for, then it is fine because that is what we all strived for,” he said.
Mahiya said as things stand, there is no bad blood between them and 93-year-old Mugabe.
Following some tension, there has been thawing of frosty relations between war veterans and Mugabe of late.
With Mugabe set to address a youth rally today, Mahiya said war veterans who are inclined to Zanu PF are free to join the event — pencilled for Marondera — as long as there is no use of force or intimidation.
“War veterans belong to the nation and not Zanu PF. They are free to make their choices. As for me I am free to go to any rally of my choice. But you must remember we have no bad blood with anyone, we may have issues that the government is not looking into our interests but that does not mean we have a war with the president,” he said.
In the past, Zanu PF youths and war veterans, for long the ruling party’s foot soldiers, have clashed as they have been rooting for different factions in the unending succession wars ripping apart the former liberation movement.
Since the war veterans’ acrimonious break-up with Zanu PF last year, the ruling party youths, led by Kudzanai Chipanga, have been firing missiles at the former freedom fighters, who were pushing Mugabe to step down.
“The youths were the ones who were attacking us. We have never attacked the president but what we want is for our welfare to be looked into as provided by the Constitution. If Zanu PF really liked war veterans, they should have taken care of us,” Mahiya said.
“We are waiting for what they have to say about people like (Zanu PF political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere who is destroying the party at the rally tomorrow (today).
“Our concern is that if the youths continue on such a path, they will be chaos in this country. The youths need training. If only they accepted us, we would be leading the party, they will follow. They must follow the principles that we have laid,” said Mahiya.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has on several occasions assured the former freedom fighters that they will be secure under his rule, insisting that the land reform programme will not be reversed.
“I have met with the church, political leaders from across the spectrum, the army, war veterans, civil servants and leaders of various social networks and civic groups who all converge on the need for a positive trajectory for this country that we love,” said Tsvangirai.