HARARE – The long-running feud between Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and disaffected war veterans loyal to his embattled counterpart, VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, has now hit an all-time low, with one freedom fighter telling the Daily News yesterday that they were now “officially at war” with him.
At the same time, other former freedom fighters who are operating outside the ruling Zanu PF say they “regret having plucked (President Robert) Mugabe from obscurity” to be their leader — adding that he was now allegedly “so drunk with power that he wants to succeed himself”.
The battle of attrition between Mphoko and the main faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has been raging on for months, with the group’s members passing an unprecedented stunning vote of no confidence in the VP earlier this year.
So bad and fraught has the relationship become, that the war veterans claim that Mugabe’s furious outburst against them on Friday was allegedly “at the instigation” of Mphoko who had earlier in the week accused them of engaging in treasonous activities by endorsing Mnangagwa as their preferred successor to Mugabe.
It was also reported at the weekend that Mphoko had allegedly presented a report to Mugabe last week in which ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa, secretary general Victor Matemadanda and spokesperson Douglas Mahiya were described as threats to national stability.
“When we said that Mphoko was an accomplished war deserter all along, some people thought that we were being unfair to him. Now, it’s all in the open and everyone can see him for what he is. We are now officially at war with him, and he has no one to blame but himself. He is going down,” one of the war veterans, who spoke to the Daily News yesterday, said.
In the meantime, war veteran Parker Chipoyera — who is now among the senior ex-combatants in former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, reiterated yesterday that were it not for freedom fighters “Mugabe would not be the president now”.
This follows Mugabe’s threat last week to deal ruthlessly with all war veterans who are pushing for the ascendancy of Mnangagwa to the throne.
Chipoyera, whose real name is Bernard Manyadza, also told the Daily News that Mugabe was now “no longer fit to continue as the country’s president”.
“He is no longer suitable to govern. Chaanogona kutaura chirungu asi kutungamira nyika nekumanager economy haagone (He is only good at speaking English but is clueless about running the country and managing the economy).
“Izvozvi muhomwe mangu hamuna mari asi mwana wake akanosunungukira kuSingapore (as we speak I do not have a cent in my pocket but Mugabe’s daughter went all the way to Singapore to give birth there),” he said.
The forthright Chipoyera also said Mugabe was “so obsessed with power and wants to crush anybody who opposes him”.
“Kudhakwa nemasimba (He is now drunk with power). He is not qualified to be the country’s president anymore. That is why the comrades (war veterans) are saying let us find an alternative. He now has the king mentality. This is a democratic country and that is why it is called a republic,” he said.
He added that there was “no democracy in Zanu PF and that anybody who dares to challenge that is labelled a dissident”.
Chipoyera’s sentiments came after Mugabe said war veterans must not bully the ruling party and impose on it who should take over from him.
“The dissidents tried it, they were war veterans, and you know what happened. Lots of trouble, lots of fighting, lots of suffering of course to our people and these dissidents activities cannot be allowed.
“Do we see another rise of dissident activity? The leadership with our experience says no to the war veterans’ association. It’s not your function, it’s not your business to talk a lot on who shall succeed the president,” Mugabe thundered.
However, Chipoyera said Mugabe had “forgotten that it was the people who saved him and pushed him to be in his position”.
“Macomrades akarwa kuti abude mujeri muna1974 (war veterans fought hard for him to be released from prison in 1974),” he said, adding that Mugabe had much to be grateful for, for freedom fighters accepting to be led by him.
Chipoyera also said that the threat against the war veterans was “synonymous with the Gukurahundi era” where an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians were killed mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands — all because “Mugabe did not want to work with others”.
“You (Mugabe) want one centre of power and now want to use the scorched-earth policy to crush the comrades. We all know that the campaign which led to the killing of the 20 000 innocent civilians in the 1980s that were called dissidents was only led by less than 100 people.
“That is the same trick that is being used now. That’s outrageous. Who are you (Mugabe) targeting, because the comrades are the ones who took you from jail. You are who you are because of the war veterans.
“You go to Singapore to get treatment and your daughter flew over 8 000 kilometres to give birth in a foreign land, but the comrades are giving birth in their homes,” the emotional Chipoyera charged.