PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has cracked the whip and ordered war veterans to take part in the planned solidarity march organised for him by the Zanu PF youth league despite their earlier threats to boycott the event.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya confirmed the development yesterday.
“It is no longer a million-man march, but a parade that has been called by the President. Now as military people, we have decided that we will take part because it is our leader who has called on us and not some ideologically bankrupt group with ulterior motives,” he said, adding they could not defy a directive from their party leader
The Zanu PF youth league has been struggling to co-ordinate the march and in a last ditch attempt last week ordered provincial structures to marshal funds enough to transport 100 000 people each to the capital for the procession tentatively set for May 25.
Early this week, war veterans dismissed the planned march as a waste of resources at a time the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans were facing grinding poverty, but Mugabe flexed his muscle and reined them in.
We are taking part to provide leadership and the ideological direction that was lacking. We feared it would have been hijacked by some people to push their own agenda. The planned march did not have the correct political ideology and a formula to mobilise people and we are going to provide that,” Mahiya said.
“It is basically the politburo, chaired by the President that has officially invited us and Zanu PF has its ways of raising funds. We always had a problem with the exclusion of war veterans in the planning for the march. But now we think this is the beginning of a proper political programme that should turn into economic programmes that benefit the people.”
Tensions between the youth league and war veterans, have been simmering for some time with both sides trading verbal spats.
This comes amid reports that a section of the youth league was supporting the G40 faction fronted by First Lady Grace Mugabe, while part of the war veterans’ association was sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Both Mnangagwa and Grace are reportedly jostling to succeed Mugabe, although they have publicly denied harbouring such ambitions.