ZImbabwe : War veterans fight election violence

FORMER Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa’s Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has taken its fight against President Robert Mugabe to another level after releasing a statement with guidelines to citizens on how to stop election violence.

Since the emergence of a credible opposition at the turn of the century, war veterans have been at the centre of Mugabe’s stranglehold on power in which they were used to unleash violence, especially in rural areas and cow villagers into voting Zanu PF.

But relations between Mugabe and the former fighters have broken down in the past year or so leading to expulsion of senior ZNLWVA leaders from the ruling party.

In a statement this week, ZNLWVA secretary for Education Wilbert Sadomba said Zimbabweans must refuse to vote for parties that thrive on violence.

“Voters are encouraged to express their anger against violent political candidates in the polling booth by voting against them,” Sadomba said.

In a thinly veiled reference to Mugabe, Sadomba urged Zimbabweans to stop the establishment of a family dynasty.

“A party or political leader who encourages or condones violence exhibits signs of dictatorship, tyranny and dynastic tendencies undermining values of the liberation struggle enshrined in our constitution. The nation should organise itself to stop this at whatever cost,” the statement said.

First Lady Grace Mugabe is reportedly girding herself to take over from ailing 93-year-old Mugabe who has watched helplessly as senior leaders in his party engage in a bitter power struggle for his position.

The war veterans expressed concern over reports of resurgence of violence in the ongoing bio-metric voter registration exercise characterizing it as “cowardly”.

“Zimbabweans need to know that genuine veterans of Chimurenga Liberation War see no party or individual worth dying or killing for. The sacrifices made by sons and daughters of our nation during the armed struggle was a high enough price for us all to gain unfettered freedom of political choice.

“Failure to respect uphold this value of liberation is tantamount to denigrating the ethos upon which this very nation is founded.  Their sacrifices cannot be in vain and therefore we strongly denounce the perpetrators and especially their organizers,” added Sadomba.

The war veterans have since removed Mugabe as their patron for the first time in 29 years in the chaos that followed a stinging statement in which they described Mugabe as a “war monger, manipulative and genocidal leader”.

“We note with deep concern and sadness the silence of political party leaders who have a national duty to restrain their supporters from electoral violence and intimidation.

“In fact, these leaders directly influence or plan the political violence for selfish ends. Leaders who are seriously committed to national unity and development need to unite and come up with strategies for eradicating such political violence,” said Sadomba.

The ZNLWVA urged citizens to establish community groups that will hit back at political party thugs that unleash violence on citizens.

These community groups, according to Sadomba, will include members of the association. He also urged the use of social media to rat out perpetrators of violence.

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