War vets leader Matemadanda arrested for insulting Grace Mugabe on a T-shirt

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POLICE in Harare have arrested the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, on charges of undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Matemadanda’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, confirmed to NewsDay that Matemadanda handed himself over to the police’s Law and Order Section early yesterday.

“We took him to the police earlier today (yesterday). They recorded a warned-and-cautioned statement after charging him with undermining the authority of the President and causing disaffection within the army and police force arising from a Press conference he held a few weeks ago,” she said.

Mtetwa said authorities had picked parts of Matemadanda’s utterances at the Press conference that were made in Shona to buttress their charge against the war veterans’ leader. She said she was not sure when Matemadanda would appear in court.

“I am not sure when because these people are vindictive. We have given them every statement they needed, but, I suppose, they might just want to keep him inside and take him to court maybe on Friday (tomorrow) at the latest,” Mtetwa said.

On Saturday, police said they wanted to interview Matemadanda, but his lawyers negotiated for him to present himself yesterday given the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays.

At the end of July, Matemadanda addressed a Press conference and accused First Lady Grace Mugabe of usurping State authority. The war veterans’ leader said Grace had captured her 93-year-old husband.

The ZNLWVA secretary-general called for unity among opposition forces to remove Mugabe through elections expected in 2018.

Matemadanda, along with other leading figures in the ZNLWVA executive, fell out with authorities last year after war veterans released a damning communiqué slamming Mugabe’s leadership, his refusal to hand over power and describing the Zanu PF leader as “genocidal and manipulative”.

Since then, relations between Mugabe and the former fighters have plummeted after they demanded that he hands over power to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

ZNLWVA chairman, Christpher Mutsvangwa last week said Matemadanda spoke on behalf of the war veterans and could not be singled out as regards the ownership of his statements.

Last week, the former fighters told a Press briefing that they would be mobilising against a faction of the ruling party known as G40 that they claim is holding Mugabe “hostage”.

War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube distanced his ministry and former fighters from Matemadanda’s remarks.

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