Faced with waning popularity and serious divisions within his Zanu PF party, President Robert Mugabe has given the War Veterans ministry 13 Ford Ranger cars in a bid to win back their support.
The disgruntled former liberation struggle fighters, once seen as the backbone of Mugabe’s rule, have been openly criticising the nonagenarian leader over his mismanagement of the economy, resulting in a serious fallout. But Mugabe moved in and handed over the cars, in a move analysts believe is meant to mend relations.
Speaking after the handover of the cars by Mugabe at Zanu PF headquarters, War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube said since the formation of the ministry, they did not have any cars. “The cars are for the ministry of War Veterans. Since the ministry was formed, we did not have transport. “Now we can go and visit many constituencies. We can also look after our provincial field officers,” Dube said. Mugabe’s gesture comes amid claims that the nonagenarian leader is dangling huge sums of money to lure back the support of the war veterans.
The Chris Mutsvangwaled Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has recently said they will campaign for the opposition in the runup to the 2018 elections. Mugabe prefers to work with the Mandi Chimeneled executive — which was, however, ruled to be illegal by the country’s courts. Ironically, it was Mugabe who approached the ministry last week, promising to give them cars. “Last Tuesday after Cabinet, the president called the minister and myself and he said he is going to look for cars for our ministry,” permanent secretary in the ministry of War Veterans Walter Tapfumaneyi said. “There are 13 cars. We are very grateful to be honoured.
“How can we not be grateful to be honoured under these very difficult budgetary conditions? It’s now easier to reach out to the war veterans.” Since falling out with Mugabe in July this year, war veterans have sided with the opponents of the ruling party and even met opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as they declared that they would not be used in partisan politics again. Still, there are some who believe that the former freedom fighters, particularly those in the Mutsvangwaled executive, are working in cohorts with the faction aligned to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who, however, denies the existence of such a union. Analysts say without the war veterans’ mobilising capacity, Zanu PF is weak as exposed by the Norton byelection defeat where the ruling party lost to independent candidate Temba Mliswa