Having being president of Zimbabwe since 1980, Robert Mugabe appears to be finally losing his grip on power after a group of his staunchest allies denounced him as dictatorial. War veterans described how Mugabe and his allies had ‘devoured the values of the liberation struggle in utter disregard of the constitution’.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party (MDC) praised the war veterans for ‘finally seeing the light’. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ‘would like to whole-heartedly thank and salute (the) war veterans for publicly acknowledging that Robert Mugabe has long outlived his relevance and should immediately proceed to resign,’ it said in a statement.
A political scientist from Masvingo State University, Takavafira Zhou said, ‘This is the beginning of the end for Mugabe.’
While we are bemused why it has taken so long, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association said they had noted ‘with concern, shock and utter dismay the entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the President and his cohorts which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle in utter disregard of the constitution’.
The war veterans have vowed not to support Mugabe if he seeks re-election. The government has described the statement as traitorous and treasonous which indicates a crucial divide between Mugabe and his biggest supporters. The last time the War veterans forced Mugabe into a corner and he had to begin the infamous land reforms involving the illegal leisure of farms throughout the country.
The land seizures have been blamed for the drastic slump in food production that contributed to the country’s economic collapse.
A rare surge of public demonstration has forced many onto the streets of the southern African country in recent weeks, triggered by an economic crisis that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay its workers.
The MDC called on the 92-year-old leader ‘to take heed of the very clear advice that he has been given by his erstwhile comrades, the war veterans’.
Opposition to Mugabe’s rule has grown in recent months as the country’s economic troubles mount while his ZANU-PF party is in turmoil over his succession. The country has been hit by protests including a stay-away strike called by an evangelical pastor Evan Mawarire which shut offices and shops and crippled the public transport system a few weeks ago on the 6th of July.
Head of the Harare-based think-tank Southern African Political and Economic Series (SAPES) Ibbo Mandaza said Mugabe would be weaker without his once-dependable veterans who at times had resorted to violence to keep him in power.
Mandaza said, ‘Mugabe and his cohorts have a reason to be afraid.’
The ageing leader’s ZANU-PF party is divided over who will follow him, split between his wife Grace Mugabe and vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is currently widely seen as his successor.
Mandaza said the veterans, who fought in the 1972-1979 war of independence ‘have made it clear that their anointed successor is Mnangagwa’. Independent political analyst Ernest Mudzengi, said the war veterans’ rebellion was driven by the succession struggle.
‘They want to be influential in deciding who succeeds Mugabe, whom they think they made,’ said Mudzengi.
A drought that has ravaged southern Africa has added to Zimbabwe’s woes.
One thing is clear, the people of Zimbabwe have had enough. Numerous protests are happening in London as well as Zimbabwe and the stage is set for some interesting times ahead.