HARARE – War veterans aligned to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have insisted that they are “equal partners” in Zanu PF politics, adding that they are not ordinary soldiers but “militarised politicians”.
In an interview with the Daily News, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said it was folly for anyone to think that former freedom fighters did not have a key role to play in Zanu PF.
“The stupid thinking about that is that…we joined the liberation war as mere soldiers, no we went to war because of the political oppression, the political consciousness sent us to war. We realised that we were living like slaves in our country.
“We are not ordinary soldiers, we are militarised politicians, we are not mercenaries, we didn’t go to war to search for greener pastures, we went to free ourselves and safeguard that freedom.”
Prodded to comment further on the view that war veterans should play second fiddle to Zanu PF, Matemadanda said the ex-combatants must not be treated as inferiors in Zanu PF politics.
“We have said it already, we have fought the (Ian) Smith regime, we have defended the party so they cannot fire us like that, we are together in politics, but that does not mean hatiresvi as war veterans, tinobvuma kugadziriswa pataresva (but that does not mean we don’t make mistakes, we stand to be corrected when we do something wrong).
“Coming to the issue that the party controls the guns, I want people to understand that it is not any politician who controls the gun. What it means is that if you are politically conscious, you use the gun to free yourself from the oppressors like what we did during the liberation struggle, so the political consciousness is what leads the gun not politicians,” he said.
Matemadanda’s sentiments follow Mugabe’s pronouncement last week that former liberation struggle fighters needed to take a back seat in Zanu PF politics and allow party leaders to steer the wobbling ship.
Matemadanda said there is a plan by their rival group, the Generation 40 (G40) to push the war veterans to the periphery of Zanu PF.
He also demanded that the G40, which is said to comprise party Young Turks opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, should stop bad-mouthing ex-combatants.
“To show stupidity they say vaka leaker maminutes (they leaked minutes), how can you see that we are the once who wrote those minutes anyone can write zvinhu vachida kutusvibisa, this is a well calculated move by G40 members.
“We have nothing against the president. He is going to see the truth of the matter. We have declared that … Mugabe is our 2018 candidate and he is the life president.”