PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s crunch meeting with war veterans today will centre on factionalism, endemic corruption within Zanu PF and government and the contentious succession issue, it has emerged.
War veterans, who spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday, declared they were ready to face their patron in what is expected to be a no-holds-barred discussion, as Zanu PF faces implosion.
“Mugabe’s bitterness towards war veterans displayed at Harare International Airport reveals panic, it shows he is aware that we are not coming for welfare benefits, but issues of power,” a war veteran said yesterday.
“It also keeps the issue confrontational, therefore, we will steer it away from ‘welfarist’ begging.”
Another leading figure among the former fighters added: “We would be very stupid to go and meet Mugabe for two days and discuss issues of school fees. That is not to say welfare issues are not important, but the health of the party, our party, is even more important. The whole country is watching and we are not going to let them down.
“Mugabe is effectively purging the whole group of freedom fighters in favour of the mafikizolos.
He is now throwing the liberation movement down the cliff after using it enough.
“This point must be clear that our dear patron is misdirecting himself and G40 rather than the other way round.”
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya told NewsDay yesterday that there was nothing treasonous discussing issues to do with Zanu PF.
“We will have little to do with succession, but everything to do with the party and G40, corruption and the welfare of war veterans,” he said.
G40 is a group of Young Turks within Zanu PF reportedly bitterly opposed to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
The group reportedly has First Lady Grace Mugabe, Zanu PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, among others, in its ranks.
Kasukuwere early this week claimed any discussion of succession would be regarded as treason, but the former fighters shot back yesterday.
“There is nothing treasonous when people talk about something they created. He (Kasukuwere) should go back to the law and check again,” Mahiya said.
“We elevated President Mugabe to the position he has. We cannot then contradict ourselves by seeking his removal.
“We made the decision to have him as our leader at Chimoio and some of the people who are now screaming treason were not there. They want to destroy the liberation legacy as well as the President. They cannot take him away from us.”
Some claim the uneasy relationship between Mugabe and the war veterans was being cultivated by Grace.
Mugabe was catapulted into the Zanu PF presidency following the removal of the then Zanu leader, Ndabaningi Sithole, in 1977.
Zanu’s military wing Zanla’s leading figures signed what has become known as the Mgagao Declaration, denouncing Sithole and installing Mugabe, then party secretary-general, as leader in the aftermath of chairman Herbert Chitepo’s death in a bomb blast in Zambia in 1975.
Mugabe, the former guerilla fighters said, was facing one of his darkest moments.
“War veterans, he is aware, can pose a legitimate challenge to him because they were not handpicked by him and are unparalleled in mass mobilisation,” a former fighter said.