WAR veterans have scoffed at President Robert Mugabe’s upcoming provincial campaign rallies organised by Zanu PF youths, NewsDay has established.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association’s spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya
The ex-freedom fighters described the sojourns starting this weekend as a wild goose chase which would not revive the veteran politician’s waning support base ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Mugabe is, starting this Saturday, expected to embark on a whirlwind tour of the provinces to mend gaping cracks within his faction-ridden ruling party and drum up support as he faces a massive challenge from a likely coalesced opposition party grouping.
Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya yesterday said the planned rallies would not achieve much in mobilising the electorate to vote for Zanu PF as the majority of the ruling party’s youths were still politically immature, serve for the likes of youth secretary Kudzanai Chipanga and a few others.
But, Zanu PF youth spokesperson, Evelyn Mpofu yesterday brushed aside Mahiya’s claims, saying the rallies would succeed with or without the war veterans’ support.
Said Mahiya: “It is not the number of people that gather or the number of rallies that they will have, but it is about revising the process of the revolution that requires political orientation to produce a generation that is politically conscious.”
He added: “The meetings are necessary to Chipanga because he wants to show the President that he can mobilise huge numbers. Even though they are saying that everyone is welcome to attend, probably there will be more youths who will attend.
“Chipanga is trying to convince the President that he has the capacity to bring more people together and war veterans will be rendered useless and in the process they will be attacking war veterans.”
The war veterans’ spokesperson equated the rallies to the infamous Zanu PF million-man march held in May last year, which he said lacked political significance after most ex-fighters boycotted the event. Mahiya warned residents in areas targeted for the rallies to brace for intimidation and being frog-marched to the rallies to boost the numbers.
“In some instances, there will be rowdy youths that will be forcing people to attend. If they are to mobilise people they should do it peacefully. We urge communities to organise and protect themselves from being forced to attend those rallies and those structures should also resist violence,” he urged, adding that the $5 billion demanded by Zanu PF youths under the guise of economic empowerment projects was a ploy to loot State resources to sponsor the party’s campaign programme.
Zanu PF national youth commissar, Innocent Hamandishe said despite all the critism, the rallies will go ahead.
“The rallies are so necessary,” Hamandishe said, adding that the war veterans might not see the value of the rallies now, but they will certainly work in Zanu PF’s favour.
He said by holding the rallies, the youths were not seeking conflict with anyone including war veterans.
“Youths alone will not be able to make Zanu PF win. We need women and war veterans. It’s team work,” he said.
Concerning the $5 billion reportedly demanded by youths for various projects, Hamandishe said they were seeking real empowerment and not the little money they have been given in past.
“If you look at the money that was previously given an individual, something like $2 000-$3 000, it is like a salary to others and there is no meaningful project that we can do. We are demanding that an individual be given something like $20 000,” he said.
In 2012, government through the National Youth Fund mobilised $40 million from various banks and disbursed it as loans for various Zanu PF youth projects, but the majority of the beneficiaries failed to repay the loans after squandering the funds.