This week, the #war veterans of Zimbabwe, who fought against the Rhodesians during the 1970’s, released a declaration that they will no longer endorse President Mugabe in any future elections. Their statement was a lengthy one, which came close to echoing the issues of the #ThisFlag movement in places, but went well beyond even that social movement in their criticism of the President.
However, it would appear that in Zimbabwe there is no room to "agree to disagree." A document that appears to have come from Brigadier General (Retired) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi on behalf of the authority of the welfare services for war veterans, war collaborators, ex-political detainees and restrictee's (ZNWA) is circulating on social media. This statement looks like it was issued for and on the authority of the Minister of Defence, who is the secretary for war veteran’s affairs in the Politburo.
Traitors & treason.
Dated and signed on 22 July, the notice to the war veterans said their actions were “traitorous and treasonable.” Some people are questioning if this is an official party or #Government political document, as the ZNWVA is technically just a welfare organization.
ZBC News Online carried the story, saying that investigations are underway to establish who authored the declaration. The State newspaper, The Herald reported that the government has dismissed the communiqué from the war vets, and said it was only “purportedly” issued by the war vets. They intend to investigate the origin of the war vet statement. This is not the first time that the government has hinted that such reports and documents may have been “fraudulently” constructed by those people who support the #ThisFlag movement.
Nevertheless, the #ThisFlag supporters are used to the spin doctor's allegations and their reaction is that this was only to be expected as it has become normal in Zimbabwe for propaganda and truth-twisting to happen every time there is any dissent at all. Rather than address issues, the State lashes back. When the #ThisFlag movement began they were originally dismissed as “children” and as a “fad.” If these are a bunch of children – then they must be awfully good at producing fraudulent documents. There were reports yesterday that ZANU (PF) youths were embarking on a mission to get the children of war vets to denounce their parents for making such a statement – so it looks like the main party supporters are taking the declaration seriously.
The declaration which was released the day before the response might not account for the feelings of every single war veteran, but it is well written and obviously indicates there are a lot of them who have reached the point they agree that the Zimbabwe situation is deteriorating. One excerpt reads as follows: “.....the veterans of Zimbabwe's war of liberation, together with our toiling masses, hereby declare that henceforth, in any forthcoming elections, we will not support such a leader who has presided over untold suffering of the general population for his own personal aggrandizement and that of his cronies."
Certainly, it is hard to read anything treasonable into that part of the statement. Rather, it appears to be legitimate criticism. However – they do state that Mugabe must go – and insist that Mugabe should announce his retirement date.
Armed forces and politics.
An image published in the News Day shows a Police officer chanting ZANU (PF) slogans during a war vet meeting. It is interesting to note that before Zimbabwe achieved their Independence in 1980, that members of the armed forces, were allowed to vote, but could not be members of any political party. It has become obvious, through the violent reaction to the #ThisFlag movement by the Riot Police, that in Zimbabwe it is more important to serve the ruling party than it is to enforce the law fairly and without favor. Perhaps the Police feel that if they followed the example set by the war vets that they too will be accused of treason. #Africa