Felex Share Senior Reporter
War veterans yesterday endorsed President Mnangagwa as Zanu-PF’s presidential candidate for this year’s harmonised elections, saying victory for his administration will advance successes recorded under the new dispensation.
Thousands of war veterans drawn from the country’s 10 provinces made the endorsement when they packed the City Sports Centre in Harare for a maiden meeting with President Mnangagwa.
The meeting was meant to afford the war veterans an opportunity to brief the Head of State and Government on the challenges they were facing economically, socially and politically.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda – who is also the secretary for war veterans in the Politburo – said nothing would stop President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF from crushing opposition political parties in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
“We have covered the ground Mr President and the war veterans’ report will come through the election results,” he said.
“The results will shock those dreaming to rule the country. The only challenge the comrades might have are resources, but if they get them, victory is guaranteed. This election is special for us.
“In all the past elections, we have learnt about elections through circulars, but today we have our candidate who will send us to deliver without violence and intimidation. It will be a matter of telling the people that the revolution has reached another stage.
“Mr President, you said the voice of the people is the voice of God, but to us we say the voice of the war veterans is the voice of the revolution and victory is certain!”
Cde Matemadanda said following the resignation of the former President Mr Robert Mugabe in November last year, the country now had a clear trajectory, which should be safeguarded by a resounding victory. Yesterday’s event saw all the 10 ZNLWVA provincial chairpersons presenting their resolutions. They were all agreed on President Mnangagwa’s candidature.
However, every province had reservations with the way the Zanu-PF commissariat department handled the party’s primary elections. The veterans of the struggle said the polls were flawed and in most cases, provincial “godfathers” and rich politicians influenced the outcome.
In the process, the war veterans said, some candidates were disenfranchised and results accepted at the national level did not reflect the wishes of the people.
“We are behind you Mr President as we go into the elections and we have no doubt victory is coming our way,” said Mashonaland Central chairperson Cde Sam Parirenyatwa.
“As for primary elections, to us they were attempted primary elections because cell registers were manipulated and most Zanu-PF members did not vote. It is still as if G40 is still in charge as current office holders in provinces were put by (Saviour) Kasukuwere (former national political commissar). Tibvisireiwo zvigananda zvazara mubato redu.”
Representing Bulawayo Province, Cde Cephas Ncube said: “It is sad that some war veterans lost during the primary elections because some used money. As we go for elections, you are our candidate Cde Mnangagwa. We need to mobilise support for everyone besides primary elections, flawed as they were, are not a platform for happiness. All we are saying is some criminals have surrounded the President and they should be removed.”
The Masvingo Province resolutions read: “There is need to explain to the electorate to heal the wounds caused by the flawed primary elections. There are godfathers in our provinces who need to be reprimanded. They are destroying the party by imposing candidates on the people.”
Matabeleland South provincial chairperson Cde Section Ncube said primary elections guidelines were not followed and some candidates, who do not meet the stipulated requirements, emerged as winners.
Speaking on behalf of Mashonaland West war veterans, chairperson Cde Cornelius Muwoni said: “We feel sidelined after having been in the trenches until the new dispensation was ushered in. Some were even arrested. When it came to campaigning, we were competing with people who have already benefited a lot and have money, while we have nothing. However, as people with the party ideology in our heads, we are going in full throttle to campaign for the President and Zanu-PF.”
On welfare issues, the war veterans said they wanted their monthly pay-outs to be increased from $206 to a figure that matched the poverty datum line.
They requested to be exempted from paying tollgate fees and land taxes, while others demanded to import cars duty-free.
The freedom fighters said despite spearheading the land reform programme, most of them remained landless in urban and rural areas.
In addition, they said, some of them were educated and should be employed in Government institutions.
They called on President Mnangagwa to set up a Commission of Inquiry on the Zimbabwe Ex-Combatants (Zexcom) Foundation Investment Fund.
The war veterans expressed optimism that President Mnangagwa would attend to their issues, saying several meetings held by Mr Mugabe bore no fruits.