PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF was left groping for answers after war veterans on Thursday dropped a bombshell and demanded that the veteran ruler leaves office for the good of the country.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Senior leaders in the former guerilla movement yesterday remained tight-lipped unsure of how to react to one of the most dramatic events since Mugabe assumed power 36 years ago, following the first all-race elections in March 1980.
With Mugabe having already been declared as the Zanu PF candidate in the 2018 elections, the ex-combatants also withdrew their support for Mugabe accusing him of dictatorship, running the economy aground and nepotism, among other misdemeanours.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was not immediately available, while party political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere refused to comment what could turn out to be a political hot-potato for the ruling party.
“I have not heard anything about that issue. In any case, ask (Defence minister Sydney) Sekeramayi, he is the leader of war veterans,” Kasukuwere said, apparently treading carefully on an issue that even the State media steered clear of.
Sekeramayi, who is the secretary for war veterans in the Zanu PF politburo, was not available for comment.
Youth league deputy secretary Kudzai Chipanga also refused to comment and claimed he was yet to hear anything regarding the war veterans’ bombshell.
“I am yet to hear anything about that. Let me find out, then I will call you,” he said.
Chipanga has previously clashed with the former fighters daring them to a physical fight and apparently got support from Mugabe himself.
During celebrations to mark Mugabe’s 92nd birthday in Masvingo, the President praised Chipanga for his work in the party days after his foul-mouthed rant at the ex-fighters.
Secretary for the War Veterans ministry Walter Asher Tapfumaneyi could also not be drawn into commenting on the matter.
“My mandate is technical. I would rather you get in touch with the minister (Tshinga Dube). I cannot comment on political matters,” Tapfumaneyi said.
Dube was not available for comment with his mobile phone unreachable all day.
But, political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya described the declaration by the war veterans as a historical epoch for Zimbabwe.
“The war veterans are attempting a Second Mgagao,” Ruhanya said, referring to a wartime document that catapulted Mugabe to the helm of the then nationalist movement penned in Tanzania.
“However, Mugabe controls the coercive arms of the State and the military is now caught between. If they support the war veterans, it will be nothing short of a mutiny against Mugabe. The party-State conflation also favours Mugabe rather than the war veterans.”
Another political commentator, Austin Chakaodza, said the communiqué by the war veterans was further cementing that Mugabe’s power was ebbing away.
With Mugabe having early this year indicated he would resign if Zimbabweans asked him to, Chakaodza said it was time he listened, but was unlikely to do so.
“It was a telling indication of how sections of society, very large sections, are now fed up with Mugabe and ready to tell him to leave office. It is a milestone given the relationship Mugabe has had with war veterans and how they have helped him retain power over the years,” Chakaodza said.
“However, it is important to note that the security services are the ones that persuaded Mugabe to stay in power following his loss in 2008, heads of these groups could do the country a favour by telling him it’s time up.”-Newsday