PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and war veterans could be headed for a fresh wave of public spats over the emotive succession issue, after the former freedom fighters endorsed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as his heir apparent.
In resolutions made available to NewsDay yesterday, following a whirlwind tour of provinces on feedback meetings in the aftermath of their indaba with Mugabe in April, the ex-freedom fighters said the 92-year-old’s successor was “fait accompli”, meaning it is irreversible.
“All fighters, all those who went to the struggle are in a queue to rule and the norm is, seniority tells who is next in line. So next in line from those who took part in the struggle, is Mnangagwa. There is nothing sinister about that, it is just a matter of principle,” Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya said yesterday.
There is no love lost between Mugabe and former freedom fighters, as tensions rise over the succession issue, long a thorn in Zanu PF’s side.
“Mnangagwa does not want to take over; he is already in the bus, in a firm position to take over and is under no pressure. It is those that are at the back of the queue who are pushing to take the baton from the one in second place,” read part of the resolutions from some of the provinces.
The declaration came hardly a week after Mugabe literally accepted the position of “Zanu PF president for life” at the million-man march, where he accused people angling for his position of treason.
“The groups that we hear are in the party, these are treasonous. Opposition groups and the West want me to retire. Tell them to go hang, I am going nowhere,” he said a week ago.
Mnangagwa has long been seen as the frontrunner to succeed Mugabe, but he is facing internal opposition from a group of Young Turks known as G40.
Following Mugabe’s comments that some war veterans were operating outside Zanu PF, the former freedom fighters hit back declaring they had never left the party.
The former freedom fighters also questioned recent statements by senior party leaders calling for “one centre of power”.
Yesterday, a seemingly emboldened Mahiya said “that the President was chosen by war veterans in Mozambique is true and that choice has been the people’s choice for 36 years”.
“Attempts to separate him by G40 remain an indication of regime change,” he said.
“We know that the party has been infiltrated through (Higher Education minister) Jonathan Moyo as a designer, (Local Government minister Saviour) Kasukuwere as the implementer of the plan with assistance from (Indigenisation minister Patrick) Zhuwao and others not worth mentioning now.”
Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo said the issue had nothing to do with the ruling party.
“It is a war veterans issue and I do not think it will be fair for the party to say anything regarding the matter. Maybe you might want to speak to their ministry,” he said.
Mugabe’s relationship with the former freedom fighters has been rocky in the last few months.
In March, the Zanu PF leader axed War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was subsequently suspended for three years from the party.