The stunning fallout between President Robert Mugabe and war veterans is getting more ominous, amid revelations that law enforcement agents are close to arresting and throwing the kitchen sink at the hapless former freedom fighters who have been identified as the chief rubble-rousers.
Well-placed sources confirmed to the Daily News that police were close to “finding” the people who were allegedly behind the scathing statement that was released to the media after the war veterans met in Harare last Thursday, that has been described by panicking authorities as “treasonous” for its acerbic criticism of Mugabe.
“Investigations are in progress and police are close to finding the people who were behind that document. Watch this space,” one of the impeccable sources said.
At the same time, the Daily News was also reliably told that Zanu PF bigwigs had conducted a thorough analysis of video material that was taken when the war veterans gathered in the capital, with a view of “identifying and punishing” all the ex-combatants who may have said anything deemed to be offensive.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she was not at work and therefore could not assist with answers about the reported crackdown on ex-combatants.
The spokesperson of the under-siege Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, said he was in a meeting and could therefore not also comment.
However, it was evident that the usually garrulous former freedom fighters were under the cosh and desperately running away from the media spotlight that is currently trained on them, as the nervous Zanu PF government embarks on its massive witch-hunt to punish those vets who are now viewed as rebels.
In a revealing Press statement that insiders said showed the extent of Zanu PF’s fears, party provincial chairpersons called for stern action to be taken against war veterans who they said were stirring up problems in the country, as well as those people who were allegedly pulling the strings from behind the scenes to push the war veterans to take on Mugabe.
We condemn in the strongest of terms the reckless (war veterans) statement, including those who authored this treasonous document. We recognise that this statement does not speak to all war veterans whom we respect, but a few malcontents bent on dividing the party.
“We call upon the party to immediately take decisive action against those implicated in the authoring and distribution of the communiqué, including those who sponsored the gathering with financial and other resources,” the party bigwigs said.
Curiously too, they went further to assert that the increasingly frail Mugabe would remain Zanu PF’s presidential candidate for the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that top Cabinet ministers and high-ranking Zanu PF officials were apparently aware of the offending war veterans’ communiqué way ahead of its release last Thursday and had pored over it before the former freedom fighters had even gathered in Harare.
This raised questions as to why these bigwigs did not act ahead of the communique’s release, with one insider telling the Daily News last night that he was “smelling a rat”.
“If some of the comrades knew about this document well in advance, as is being said, why did they keep quiet?
“Given the things and the fights taking place in the party, I smell a rat,” the source said, without elaborating on his cryptic sentiments.
Contacted for comment, War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube claimed that the war veterans’ meeting had been unscheduled, meaning that no one could have known what was going to happen.
“I only came to know about the war veterans’ meeting much later as I was only aware of a meeting with ex-detainees and restrictess that we had scheduled and still hope to hold soon,” Dube said.
However, insiders insist that top government officials “knew everything” and that the furore that had ensued after last Thursday’s meeting merely manifested the succession wars and mindless bloodletting devouring Zanu PF.