HARARE – Firebrand Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) leader and former Cabinet minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa, says ex-combatants are working to “finish off” the Zanu PF faction that goes by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) — as the savage war to succeed President Robert Mugabe intensifies.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Mutsvangwa also revealed that disaffected war veterans could continue with their “strategic” backing of opposition parties working to oust Mugabe from power through the mooted grand coalition, which is expected to be in place by the end of this year.
“We are consulting with all patriots and are giving serious study to the Norton electoral template which delivered victory against a-G40-imposed candidate there.
“That approach resonated well with all patriotic voters, and this can turn out to be a pilot political project,” he said, referring to their campaign against little-known Zanu PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza who lost to former ruling party leader for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa in the Norton by-election.
“We will use our impeccable political pedigree and strong bonds with the populace to thwart the machinations of G40 knaves and thieves, and their power-grab ambitions.
“We are there to defend and promote the ethos and values of the second Chimurenga which are being trampled upon by the likes of Jonathan Moyo and his G40 cohorts. We call upon all Zim patriots to fight resolutely to thwart the designs of this vapid and vacuous lot of political charlatans and counter revolutionaries,” the verbose Mutsvangwa added.
The former Norton legislator was fired from both Zanu PF and the Cabinet last year, while many of his ZNLWVA comrades have also since been banished from the imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before the courts.
Mutsvangwa and a large section of the war veterans have also gone on to publicly back Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, who turns a mature 93 years old next month.
They have also warned ominously that blood could be shed in the country if Mnangagwa does not succeed the increasingly frail nonagenarian who has studiously refused to name his Zanu PF successor, arguing that the party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process to manage his succession — doing so through a congress.
Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste allies, who include the disgruntled former freedom fighters, have also been ratcheting up their loud calls for Mugabe to retire now and pave the way for his long-time aide to take over the reins at both party and government levels.
The war veterans’ latest move to plot the downfall of the G40 comes as Mnangagwa has been under the cosh in recent days for hosting sacked Zanu PF officials at his rural home during the festive season, which his party enemies allege was in fact a meeting organised to plot the ouster of Mugabe from power.
Last week, a G40-linked group met at the Zanu PF headquarters and issued a statement in which they called for a probe into Mnangagwa for hobnobbing with Mutsvangwa and maverick Harare businessman, Energy Mutodi.
They also called for a meeting with Mugabe, so that they could register their complaints against Mnangagwa and Team Lacoste with the nonagenarian directly.
“As provincial chairpersons and political commissars, we notice with concern the practice by some of our senior party leaders who are now and again, seen in the company of elements of people who were expelled from Zanu PF for gross indiscipline.
“This kind of behaviour puts doubts on those leaders’ commitment and loyalty to decisions that are made by Zanu PF collectively, as party leaders should not be seen to be associating and entertaining people who were expelled from the party for indiscipline which involved disrespect of the party leadership,” the group said in a statement.
Since the images of Mnangagwa holding the much-obsessed about coffee mug emerged in the public domain, the VP’s foes have gone to town about the issue, interpreting it as his open statement that he has unbridled presidential ambitions.
It was in this context that Mutsvangwa told the Daily News yesterday that the war veterans would mobilise massive support among both their own ranks and ordinary Zimbabweans to “crush” the G40 group, which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
“We are meeting all Zimbo (Zimbabwean) patriots who oppose the G40s and their agenda of economic atrophy, denial of promise and hope to a whole generation of educated youths who see their only avenue of modern actualisation in the Diaspora,” he said.
Previously, Mutsvangwa and his colleagues at the ZNLWVA have tried in vain to pressure Mugabe into sacking G40-linked ministers such as Local Government chief Saviour Kasukuwere and Moyo.
The fallout between Mugabe and the ex-combatants first burst into the open in July last year, after they released a damning communiqué in which they savaged the Zanu PF leader before serving him with divorce papers, and bringing to an end a relationship that dates back to the days of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war.
The fed up former freedom fighters also said pointedly that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding almost maliciously that the nonagenarian would be “a hard-sell” if he ever contemplated contesting the 2018 polls.
Mugabe responded by warning the war veterans that they would be dealt with severely, including through the use of extra-judicial suppression methods that his former liberation movement incorporated during the country’s independence war — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats.
After this, police duly launched a savage crackdown against the war vets leadership and arrested five officials, who were later set free by the courts.
Over the years, war veterans have served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s political power dynamos, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.
Analysts have also predicted that Mugabe will not win the 2018 polls without the support of the war veterans, while on their part the ex-combatants have vowed that they will vote for an opposition candidate if the nonagenarian stands in those elections.