Angry war veterans vowed on Thursday to engineer President Robert Mugabe’s ouster from power “the Kalisto Pasuwa way” in next year’s eagerly-anticipated elections if the nonagenarian does not pass the leadership baton to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Addressing hundreds of former freedom fighters who had gathered in Harare, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, said they had identified “a crisis of leadership” in the country as the biggest impediment to Zimbabwe’s political and economic development.
He also called on war veterans to start mobilising people in rural areas to vote against Zanu PF and Mugabe’s “failed leadership”, saying it would be selfish for them to spend time discussing their welfare when Zimbabweans in general were suffering terribly.
“The people we gave the power to rule over us, after we delivered the country’s independence in 1980, have failed in that mandate and when a team does not win, it is the coach who is fired and that is why Pasuwa was sacked.
“It is the same reason why they (current leaders) should also go through our vote in 2018,” Matemadanda said.
“We have now identified who the problem is and we should go out there in the villages, in the districts and constituencies and tell the people who that problem is.
“When a candidate is popular with the people, we must not ask which party he is coming from because the biggest political party are the people. So, we will back that one from councillors, MPs and the president. Talk to the people, galvanise the masses,” he added.
Weighing in, ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa also warned Mugabe that “things will never be the same again now that we are back united”, noting the presence of former Zipra intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa and Agrippa Mutambara who were in attendance.
We are a little more than 18 months away from the national vote next year and I want to tell you that there is no weapon stronger than your vote.
“So, you must now go to the rural areas and teach the masses that another Norton can be delivered again on a national scale,” Mutsvangwa thundered.
This comes after war veterans, along with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, backed independent candidate Temba Mliswa in last year’s Norton by-election, culminating in the embarrassing defeat of Zanu PF candidate Ronald Chindedza.
“It is us war veterans who know how to sell people to become electoral winners and you will recall that Mugabe didn’t campaign for the 1980 vote because we were on the ground selling his name,” Mutsvangwa added.
He said Mugabe could not continue to blame Western sanctions for his government’s failures, adding that there were other people capable of taking the country forward even in the face of the targeted restrictions.
“If you cannot bust sanctions then give up leadership and you will be surprised that there are others who can do better to have them removed.
‘We want someone who will appeal to capital by doing away with indigenisation laws that scare away investors.
“We want to reconcile with all our people in the Diaspora, including children of the whites who left this country because we were fighting them. We cannot continue to create enemies because we need their skills,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Dabengwa pledged his support to the ZNLWVA saying he had walked away from the ruling party after seeing “signs of decay”.
Until their stunning fallout with Mugabe mid last year, the former freedom fighters had for decades been a pillar of support for the 93-year-old leader and the ruling party.