Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter—
POLICE yesterday fired teargas to disperse war veterans who had assembled at the City Sports Centre in Harare to attend a crisis meeting where they expected to be appraised on contemporary developments.The police came in full force and ordered the war veterans to leave before the arrival of their leaders.
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This resulted in running battles between the police and the former freedom fighters who felt their rights were being violated. Police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the dispersing of the war veterans was in accordance with the law.
She said the war vets were supposed to have sought police clearance seven days before their meeting. “According to Section 25 (1) (a) of the Public Order and Security Act, any procession or gathering should be applied for seven days before to the regulatory authority, while for a public meeting it should be five days before,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said when applying, the venue should be provided so that the regulatory authority makes an assessment. In this case, she said, the war veterans had no venue after they were denied access to the venue they wanted to hold their meeting. “They only came today with a notice to notify the regulatory authority of their meeting,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“The law also criminalises those who fail to give notice to the police. “The venue (City Sports Centre) they wanted to use had been booked by other people and that is why police had to disperse them. As police, we also do not tolerate actions that will incite violence.”
Later, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairman Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa held a Press conference where he condemned the police. “I am addressing you with a heavy heart,” he said.
“A heavy heart stemming from the events of this morning, specifically the fact that the police found itself resorting to heavy handed violence against war veterans who were coming to Harare for an extraordinary meeting of the war veterans.
“These members, they voluntarily disarmed themselves as far back as 1980 though they had lived with a gun day and night for a good part of their youth as they fought for the independence of Zimbabwe.”
Cde Mutsvangawa said none of the war veterans had ever resorted to the use of the gun since then because they knew that a gun was something which should not be resorted to willy-nilly. The war veterans, he said, were disciplined.
Cde Mutsvangwa said for the past 35 years, the war veterans campaigned for Zanu-PF. “These are the war veterans who were today and whose delegations were subject to violence by the State,” he said. He likened the incident to “a Marikana for Zimbabwe’’.
At least 34 mine protesting workers were killed at Marikana in South Africa in August 2012 after police opened fire on them. Cde Mutsvangwa said it painted a bad picture to see the police bring out the “paraphernalia of violence”, including the newest water cannons bought from Israel and elsewhere to beat up war veterans.
“The best weapons they (war veterans) would have had would be a cell phone,” he said. “They had nothing of violence on them to be beaten by the police simply for trying to attend a meeting.
“I say this is an equivalent of Marikana for Zimbabwe where you simply prey upon your own people because the State has gone berserk. And we wonder why the State has gone berserk. We are outraged. We condemn this violence.” As the war veterans association, Cde Mutsvangwa said, they sympathised with their fellow colleagues who had been beaten up and appealed to them to seek treatment for injuries suffered.
“They never expected this kind of treatment from the Government which they gave birth to, from a police commanded by a leader which they so much adore also from the commander who shared with them the same trenches in the armed struggle,” he said.
Cde Mutsvangwa dismissed a vote of no confidence passed on him as the chairperson of the war veterans’ association last week that was masterminded by Cde Mandi Chimene from Manicaland. He described Cde Chimene as a member of an occult who believed in “spirits in the air” which she thinks should be in charge of Zimbabwe.
“The clearest manifestation of this occult was in Chiweshe at a rally by the First Lady where she was at the centre stage with a motley collection of hangers on who suddenly become war veterans and she presented to the First Lady a demented woman whom she claimed was the spirit of a male war comrade who died at Nyadzonya in 1976 and now that this spirit needed an audience with the First Lady,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
He said war veterans wanted to investigate at what level the “wayward behaviour” of the police came about.
“We really want to believe that the patron (President Mugabe) who has such prestige, who had a standing ovation in Africa recently, who everybody in Sadc respect, who is a revolutionary icon, who has an impeccable credentials in the Diaspora does not need his name desecrated at this late hour of his life by people unleashing violence on the same people who made him become the icon he is,” he said.
“It’s an outrage that a revolutionary leader can have a police force be unleashed upon his fellow revolutionaries because thus what we are. We are fellow revolutionaries. How does it come that an arm of the State is unleashed upon unarmed well-meaning war veterans who just want to have an extra-ordinary meeting.”
Cde Mutsvangwa said there was a belief in the occult that had taken over Zanu-PF as some people now see themselves as Mbuya Nehanda, long after she died. “They are even trying to find out who were the traitors to Mbuya Nehanda, among the people living today,” he said. “There is a mystical movement going on in the party, which is totally an anathema to the revolution.
“It is against the religious beliefs because if you get these mystical people in a secular State then you are now having an equivalent of ISIS in Zimbabwe. That is where we are going with this kind of occultism which Mandi is propounding. This kind of mystical behaviour get audience in the wrong places and it drives some Politburo members. It is unacceptable.”
Cde Mutsvangwa had no kind words for Professor Jonathan Moyo as he launched a blistering attack on him, saying he was the brains behind the machinations to destroy the party from within and was habouring ambitions to be President.
“Jonathan Moyo will stop at nothing to lie to culminate, obfuscates his background,” he said. “He was anticipating this violence. We assume police chiefs in Mat North and the one in Harare probably listened to Jonathan Moyo and were getting orders from Jonathan.
“He has become de-facto member of the Executive of this country. From nowhere he has become the executive. Jonathan does not need to be elected, but he anoints himself, then he gets the occult of Mandi to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe accept him.
“This is the incestuous relation between the occult and a drive for power which has no basis except for a mystical belief in himself. A professor consorting with the occult of Mandi?
“I assume that when he was boasting he knew the deployment of the police he knew the result of today. He must have contrived, wished it and propelled it. So, we now have a situation where Jonathan has become de-facto the Executive. We call upon the President as fellow revolutionaries, as loyal people, to take back his powers from this mystical man.”