Veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation (warvets) have implored ageing President Robert Mugabe, who turns 93 next month, to retire or name his successor immediately.
Media reports indicate that the veterans, led by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Secretary General, Victor Matemadanda, are rooting for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa under a ZANU-PF faction called ‘Team Lacoste’, to take over should Mugabe, now President for 37 years, leave power. Mnangagwa’s team is deeply engaged in a political confrontation with Generation 40 (G40), a team allied to First Lady Grace Mugabe, who is also seen as one of the contenders to succeed her husband.
“People cannot stop to talk about issues that affect their future. They cannot remain docile because they want the president to tell them his exit and succession plan,” Matemadanda was quoted as saying, adding: “People cannot keep on speculating. They want to know what is going to happen after he (Mugabe) leaves office. They want to know their future and what happens tomorrow.“We are worried about where the country is going. We are not only concerned about Mugabe, but the totality of what is happening in Zimbabwe.”
The war veterans have been feuding with Mugabe ever since they broke their 41-year relationship with the nonagenarian mid last year over their worsening plight and the country’s deepening political and economic rot.
Until that time, the fed up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe and Zanu PF’s pillars, waging brutal campaigns against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections of 2000 and 2008.
The former freedom fighters’ stunning fallout with Mugabe and Zanu PF saw their chairman Chris Mutsvangwa being fired from both the Cabinet and the ruling party last year, while many of their other top leaders have also since been banished from the imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before the courts.
A meeting in April to try and mend relations between the war vets and
Mugabe failed to resolve the stalemate, with the former freedom fighters setting difficult conditions for the nonagenarian, including that he ditches alleged G40 kingpins such as Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and the ruling party’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
The war vets’ ultimatum to Mugabe to retire comes as there are also growing calls both within Zanu PF and outside the ruling party to retire, with Team Lacoste baying for Mnangagwa to take over.
Last week, highly-opinionated businessman-cum-politician, and an avowed Mnangagwa loyalist, Energy Mutodi, implored Zanu PF to hold an extraordinary congress to choose Mugabe’s successor.
He claimed that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that ‘99
percent’ of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the
eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way
that the nonagenarian could win elections against popular opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Mugabe must retire. What we must be discussing now is how we share power in Zanu PF post-Mugabe,” he said, adding that it would be very embarrassing for Mugabe if he stood for election again and lost.
However, Mugabe has studiously refused to name a successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process, to manage his succession via a congress.