HARARE – War veterans linked to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have hijacked today’s Zanu PF youth league “million-man march” announcing yesterday that they would not only march but direct the event.
Despite several attempts by the governing party’s youths to explain that the march was in support of President Robert Mugabe, a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) led by Christopher Mutsvangwa were for long sceptical saying they were not aware of its terms of reference.
But in a U-turn yesterday, the ZNLWVA association secretary-general Victor Matemadanda announced at a media briefing in Harare that members of his association would not only participate in the march but also take leadership of the whole event.
“I know there has been a lot of talk regarding the march, its purpose and so forth but we as leadership have said comrades must come because the march is not in support of any particular group but for the president and therefore, we are obliged to not only support, but also to take leadership, giving direction of how it is going to be done and how it should be done,” Matemadanda said.
Zanu PF is divided along two factions one led by Mnangagwa and the G40 faction that is associated with the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
When pressed on whether their latest move was not tantamount to hijacking a programme they had been cynical about, Matemadanda claimed they had an obligation to be part of it and “give direction to our children”.
“Youths are our children, yes, they could be having positions but they still remain our children. When we get (to the venue of the march) we will become their parents, parents do not necessarily lead but they advise and advice is leadership because you will be giving knowledge which is new.
“War veterans are like soldiers it is like they are being called on a parade and in the military if there is a misunderstanding or complaint, it is done after completion of that task,” he said.
Matemadanda called on all ex-combatants throughout the country to come in their numbers saying his association had realised that the march was genuinely meant to prop up Mugabe.
“There had been a lot of misinformation because people had not been given information and they did not know about the purpose, but the information has been availed to us now and we have no doubt that the march is in support of the president so there is no reason not to attend, we will do so effectively and actively”.
Interestingly, when the youth league announced how the march will take place, including the routes and the assembly points for the 10 Zanu PF provinces, there was not a single one reserved for the usually-vociferous war veterans.
Youth league deputy secretary Kudzanai Chipanga told the Daily News at the weekend that there will be provincial assembly points in the capital from where party loyalists will march to the open space adjacent to Rainbow Towers which the governing party has christened Robert Mugabe Square.