Mugabe Pleads With War Veterans Not To Leave Zanu-PF

HARARE – Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has pleaded with the influential liberation war veterans not to leave Zanu-PF and form an independent political entity, saying it would cost the ruling party in the forthcoming elections.

Addressing party supporters in Bindura on Friday, where he had earlier officially opened the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, Mugabe said he would call a meeting with the veterans in early April where he would hear their grievances.

He said it was regrettable that some of the former fighters were not getting the assistance they were supposed to get, such as school fees for their children and medical cover, among others.

“If others want to have a separate organisation for war veterans as an independent political group, will we win elections. So we said war vets as the people who liberated this country, join the party and have the power to choose where you can lead and empower people to unite, you have to be party members, you cannot be outside the party,” he said.

“So we are saying we should meet in the first week of April so we discuss this. We also want to hear your grievances; school fees, help, we will hear about that,” he said.

Mugabe, who turned 92 last month, said he would not step down before his term ends, saying those who felt he should step down had to raise the issue at the party’s next congress.

He said some misdirected elements within the war veterans were inculcating a culture of disrespect for the party leadership in the youth by attacking him and the first lady Grace Mugabe, singling out Chris Mutsvangwa, who he recently fired from his ministerial post.

Mutsvangwa was sacked as minister of welfare services for war veterans, war collaborators, former political detainees, and restrictees, and replaced him with his deputy Tshinga Dube.

“Some are losing the plot and have been attacking the first lady and president, saying obscenities and teaching children bad behaviour. This has been coming from Mutsvangwa because he thinks that the president has overstayed. If you want me to leave, it should be done at congress. I can’t leave before the end of my term,” he said.

Mugabe claimed that Mutsvangwa had gone as far as China seeking support to remove him from power.