BOISTEROUS fighters of the liberation struggle had to abandon their planned demonstration yesterday, which was meant to show support for their embattled leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, as well as stopping Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, from attending ZANU-PF’s Politburo meeting.
The war veterans had planned to converge at the party headquarters, but developed cold feet at the eleventh hour after they were outwitted by members of the ZANU-PF Women’s League who are said to be working closely with Generation 40 (G40) – a group of young Turks campaigning against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s prospects of taking over from President Robert Mugabe in the event that he retires from active politics.
The Women’s League, which is also pushing for gender parity in the presidium – an agenda that is resonating well with G40 – mobilised thousands of its members to throng the party’s headquarters in Harare where they were joined by scores of members of the ZANU-PF Youth League.
At the party headquarters, they were addressed by President Mugabe along with the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, who happens to be the secretary for Women’s Affairs.
The league presented the purpose of the gathering as meant to congratulate President Mugabe for his successful tenure as African Union chairman as well as showing sympathy with the First Family following attempts by a rogue group to bomb their Alpha and Omega Dairy.
Insiders within the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) said the war veterans abandoned their planned demonstration because they did not want to undermine a programme that was meant to support their patron, President Mugabe.
In the end, Moyo had the last laugh as he attended the Politburo meeting without any incident.
With age catching up with them, the war veterans seem to be losing their clout in ZANU-PF.
Also contributing to their loss of clout is that they are too divided amongst themselves along factional lines.
In their place, the youth and women’s league are holding sway.
ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, recently called for the ouster of some of the alleged G40 members, specifically the current party political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere and Moyo.
“These people (Kasukuwere and Moyo) thing they can create a rift between President (Robert) Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. They want to create non-existent tiffs between the President and his deputy, so that they strategically position themselves to rule this country…So they should both go,” declared Matemadanda.
He also revealed that the war veterans would mobilise to come to the venue of the Politburo meeting.
Political commentator, Ibbo Mandaza, doubted whether the war veterans still had much influence in determining the direction politics in ZANU-PF goes.
“The war veterans are also divided amongst themselves along factional lines. You can no longer speak of war veterans as a block. It (war veterans association) is now more of a political formation and no more representative of the totality of the war veterans,” said Mandaza.
While political scientist, Eldred Masunungure, agreed with Mandaza that the war veterans are now fragmented, not only along ZANU-PF factional lines – but also along political ideology, Masunungure said the war veterans still wield a lot of political power.
“The world over, war veterans wield a lot of power and influence. In Zimbabwe they still wield enormous influence and I have no doubt that they will influence the course of events in ZANU-PF. But that influence must be controlled and they must exercise their power with caution and prudently in order for people to take them seriously,” said Masunungure.
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