The war veterans say the recent ruling party primary elections saw a number of their leaders being unfairly treated after their demands for preferential treatment were ignored.
Our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) spoke to Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya (DM), who said Zanu PF was going back on its promises to give the former liberation war fighters preferential treatment in the forthcoming elections. Below are excerpts from the interview.
EM: You lost to Tongai Mnangagwa in the party’s primary elections for the Harare South constituency. You raised complaints and there was a rerun, you lost again and you still were not satisfied. You appealed to the party and last week, Mnangagwa filed his nomination papers and is the party’s official representative. You did not file yours. does that mean the matter been resolved?
DM: The matter was not resolved. I raised my queries and they were not addressed until the nomination day.
I think the committee that ran the primary elections did a shoddy job. People are only a party when they respect their own constitution. When this is not done, they have failed. For example, one should have been in the party for five consecutive years, but my opponent in Harare South only joined the party structures in March this year and was allowed to stand. The laws in the party must apply to everybody equally. It is difficult to talk about democracy when laws are applied selectively.
I think it could have been gentlemen enough for those in the committee to resign.
Now we have a problem in the party, that the provincial executives are trying to reconcile party members, but the people who created the problems are no longer available in the constituencies.
EM: Did you try to have an audience with Mnangagwa over your problems in Harare South?
DM: The president never summoned me to hear my side of the story. His problem is, he does not intervene when some people under him do something. He gives people [numerous] chances to make sure they expose themselves. The commission that ran the elections had regulations, which they disregarded.
They could have done something sensible. The president acts after receiving the evidence, but sometimes it will be too late.
Moving forward, primary elections in Zanu PF should be run by people who have retired, who are not running for positions, people who understand the Zanu PF ideology and can defend it, not these young newcomers who do not understand what Zanu PF stands for.
Principles governing elections were not followed.
EM: As war veterans, are you satisfied with the way the current government is treating you?
DM: As far as I am concerned, war veterans should have been given a chance to get seats. As war veterans who have been disadvantaged for the past 38 years under former president Robert Mugabe, we should have been given a quota as is the case with women.
We have been disadvantaged and we should not be made to stand against these young persons. It is not fair to have us humiliated by these young ones who have the money and relatives at the top as was the case with Harare South.
EM: I am told the Midlands provincial structure is supporting Dorothy Mhangami, a former Zanu PF MP in Gokwe Central who was barred from contesting, but filed as an independent candidate against Victor Matemadanda. She is distributing party regalia in the constituency yet she is an independent candidate. What does that show about the party’s respect for you as war veterans?
DM: As war veterans, we implore the party to demonstrate a degree of honesty and respect the resolutions of the November 18 central committee meeting that agreed that war veterans should be raised in all structures of the party and government.
They hoodwinked us. They don’t want us to occupy positions in the party and government and we don’t know why.
The likes of myself, Victor Matemadanda, Chris Mutsvangwa, Headman Moyo and others don’t deserve this treatment.
We stood against the Mugabe dynasty. we were jailed and received all sorts of ill-treatment. This is the party we served and why should we be undermined?
EM: What is the nature of your relationship with Mnangagwa, as war veterans?
DM: The relationship so far has been cordial, but we don’t want to listen to expressions, we want to see the practical part of those expressions. Nothing is bad yet. We helped President Mnangagwa to be in power and as war veterans, we feel we must benefit. We should be given chances in both government and party. Now the chances are not there and this is bad.
EM: What do you think is stopping Mnangagwa from advancing the interests of war veterans?
DM: President Mnangagwa is finishing Mugabe’s term. He will do his best if he is elected. He cannot make wholesale changes. He should take everyone on board. We will assess him after he is elected into power. The war veterans are giving the commander a chance to do the best he can and have all the confidence he will do his best to the advantage of war veterans. He is a listening president, but from August after the elections we will be reading the dashboard.
We also expect him to act against corruption because with corruption, the country will never move forward.
EM: I am informed the party leadership is dumping war veterans because they see them as a threat because of your demands, especially Matemadanda. What is your comment?
DM: How is he a problem? What will they be doing to feel that he will be a threat? We have a problem and the issue of G40 is not about its leaders Saviour Kasukuwere or Jonathan Moyo, but G40 as a system that had been well-established. There are some people who are in the party and continue to hate the war vets like the G40 leadership. If we have such people in Zanu PF, they are enemies of the revolution led by President Mnangagwa.
EM: With these problems, what are Zanu PF’s chances in the forthcoming elections?
DM: I think Zanu PF will win in the forthcoming elections. It will win resoundingly. What has happened in the party is something that the people will just take as an internal Zanu PF thing. I don’t think this will greatly affect the party’s performance in the forthcoming elections.