Mabasa Sasa, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe’s security services will not stand by while rogue elements belittle their Commander-in-Chief, warning that dissent from quarters that should know better will not be tolerated.
In an interview with Harare Bureau on Monday, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga said many of the people making political noises today were either utterly misguided, had a history of treachery or were Johnnies-come-lately to the struggle.
This follows a stream of commentary in the private media from one war veterans grouping which is trying to create the impression that the majority of liberation fighters — who are a Reserve Force — have lost faith in their Commander-in-Chief.
The general’s sentiments also come on the back of claims by some politicians within Zanu-PF that they are the President’s number one backers and yet they had a well-documented history of treachery.
Gen Chiwenga said: “The majority of war veterans have nothing to do with this nonsense that we are now getting daily in our media.
“The ones who are now championing themselves as the war veterans are members of an association which emanates from way back in the time of (Cde Chenjerai) Hunzvi.”
Gen Chiwenga said people like Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson Mr Douglas Mahiya must appreciate that they were fronting an NGO and not the majority of ex-combatants.
“I am talking on behalf of the Defence and Security Services of the country; and besides that, on the Zanla side, I am the surviving most senior commander.
And I am not in the association.
“But when they go out there they talk as war veterans. They must talk as a war veterans association.
“But who are these people? What were they during the struggle that makes them think that they are now more revolutionary than Zanla and Zipra at the height of war? What role did they play?
“If they understood the political teachings – that the party commands the gun and not vice versa, that everyone must respect the leadership – they should know that today in Independent Zimbabwe we must all respect the leadership both in Government and in the party.”
He said such “unbecoming behaviour shows that they (ZNLWVA leadership) were never cooked properly and they never understood what they stood for and what the revolution was all about”.
Gen Chiwenga said anyone with a grievance should follow the correct channels to air their views, and already such opportunity had been presented by President Mugabe to all war veterans — and not just a single association — when he invited them to last year’s historic indaba.
“This must now stop . . . If they want to remain as part and parcel of those disciplined, loyal, patriotic cadres, they must now understand that it is the party, it is the Government that sets the direction.
“The party commands the combatants and not vice versa. They must respect the leadership that is in office,” he counselled.
Gen Chiwenga dismissed claims that he should not intervene in such matters, asserting that his history as a liberation fighter, and his status as the Commander of the ZDF and a citizen gave him the right to defend his Commander-in-Chief and safeguard Zimbabwe’s stability.
“Here we are talking about how people, more specifically combatants, must behave. They are supposed to be role models to the rest of society,” he said. He said there was still opportunity for those who had gone astray to clean up their act and stand on principle.
“But speaking on behalf of the Defence and Security Services of the country, this nonsense must now come to an end. We will not have our Commander-in-Chief being belittled by nobodies, who never commanded any battle,” he said.
He said President Mugabe had shown over the decades that he was a man of principle, and the rest of the body politic and the populace would do itself good if it learnt this valuable lesson from him.
“There are some who think they are educated, they are now professors yet they ran away from the liberation struggle. They now think they know better than everyone else,” he said.