Former AG offers legal help to war vets, Mutsvangwa condemns Mugabe

Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, a war veteran and ex-attorney general, says he is ready to assist arrested ex-combatants with free legal services if approached.

War Veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa
War Veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa

Two leaders of the war veterans association, Victor Matemadanda (secretary general) and Douglas Mahiya (spokesperson) were arrested between Wednesday and early Thursday after President Robert Mugabe threatened severe action over a recent rebellion.

The ex-combatants met in Harare two weeks ago, described Mugabe as a “genocidal dictator” and announced that the former paratroopers had withdrawn their support for the 92 year-old ruler.

In a communique circulated after the meeting, the war vets said Mugabe had run down the economy and accused him of causing mass deaths during the Gukurahundi crackdown on civilians in the 1980s that led to some 20,000 deaths as government cracked down on purported dissidents.

Mahiya has already been charged with treason or, alternatively, undermining the authority of the president, but Matemadanda’s whereabouts are not yet known.

“I stand ready to help them. Only that I have not been briefed,” Gula-Ndebele told local media.

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He was appointed AG in 2006 but was removed from the post in May 2008 after being charged with abuse of office in what observers said was part of factional infighting between a camp led by former vice president, Joice Mujuru, and another fronted by current deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Gula-Ndebele was linked to Mujuru who was expelled from the ruling Zanu PF in 2015 and now leads the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party.

Gula-Ndebele is a retired army colonel who was among the country’s feared military intelligence supremos in the 1980s.

After independence, he practiced as a lawyer, establishing the law firm Gula-Ndebele and Partners Legal Practitioners. He is a former chairman of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), now the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Meanwhile, Christopher Mutsvangwa, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), blasted Mugabe and the security authorities over the arrests of Matemadanda and Mahiya.

The arrests followed a hastily organised meeting of Zanu PF supporters which Mugabe addressed.

“I condemn the arrest of my executive members. This comes in the wake of a mob justice -type rally addressed by HE (His Excellency) President Mugabe yesterday (Wednesday),” Mutsvangwa said.

“I call upon the President, as Head of State, to arrest forthwith the police action and the persecution of my comrades. As a fellow revolutionary and renowned statesman, why is he allowing such treatment of comrades who as young men sacrificed all they had including offering (their) only life so freedom could be attained?

“This high-handed over-reaction is surely uncalled for. Surely an announced withdrawal of political support by my executive colleagues, no matter how wounding to historical pride, cannot be grounds for such over-reaction,” said Mutsvangwa. Nehanda Radio