Speaking in an interviews with the Daily News yesterday, the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) also pooh-poohed Mugabe’s continuing assertions that they had a subordinate role in the warring ruling Zanu PF.
This comes as Mugabe has re-ignited his feud with the disaffected former freedom fighters who he dismissed as not being special while delivering a eulogy during the burial of the late Brigadier General James Murozvi at the National Heroes Acre in Harare on Wednesday.
Forthright ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda — who, it has emerged, was inexplicably chased away from Murozvi’s burial — strongly warned Mugabe to desist from using funerals to attack war veterans.
“We are unhappy as war veterans that the president seeks to use the Heroes Acre to divide people. Is that what one says at a funeral?
“He should not attack us when we are silent … does he enjoy attacking war veterans? The president should talk about other issues.
“Why doesn’t he give us a break. As an old person, he should respect the people or the people will not respect him,” he said.
“Why does he continue insulting us? Now people are starting to think that war veterans are divided. Hatina kuenda ikoko kunotukwa (we did not go to the burial to be attacked).
“The whole family, including his wife Grace, want to insult us. That is why you see people like Sarah Mahoka and Mandi Chimene attacking Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“It is because all these people know that is what the president wants,” the fuming Matemadanda told the Daily News.
On his part, war veterans’ spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said Mugabe was “lost” by continuing to view politics as leading the gun, and not realising that politics had evolved.
“Politics is not static and things change. The gun is no longer listening to politics because of the economic and social situation that we have in the country.
“We have needs that are not being met, and that is why we speak out . . . We have remained steadfast in our demands and we will continue to be steadfast. We love each other as war veterans but he (Mugabe) does not love us.
“Mugabe does not also know who played which role and who did not. The only war veteran that Mugabe knows is (the late) Solomon Mujuru.
“That is the reason why we are being treated the way we were treated by (Rhodesian Prime Minister) Ian Smith,” the outspoken Mahiya said.
Addressing mourners gathered at Murozvi’s burial at the National Heroes Acre on Wednesday, Mugabe told the ex-combatants that they had no right to dictate to him how he was supposed to run Zanu PF.
The 93-year-old’s statement was at odds with the effusive praise that commander of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, had given the war veterans during a military parade for Murozvi at One Commando barracks on Tuesday.
Mugabe has been having a tough time with war veterans ever since they issued a scathing statement on him in mid July last year.
Until that happened, the fed-up ex-combatants had served as Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s pillars, waging particularly brutal campaigns against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, especially in the bloody elections of 2000 and 2008.
Their stunning fallout with Mugabe and Zanu PF later saw their chairman, Christopher Mutsvangwa, being fired from both the Cabinet and the ruling party last year, while many of their other top leaders were also banished from the imploding former liberation movement, in addition to being hauled before the courts.