If there had ever been any doubt as to the contempt in which President Mugabe held his comrade in arms, the war veterans, he could not have put his contempt more graphically than he did during last week’s Zanu PF party conference in Masvingo.
“There are ways to be followed that you cannot dictate how things should be done. There are organs which follow rules and procedures of how things should be done and no one person should stand up there and say ah, I want this to be done this way.” He started off, talking about his turf war with the war veterans.
The war veterans’ quarrel with him is over President Mugabe’s failure to deliver economic prosperity. It was them who have done all the dirty work of harassing, beating, raping and even murdering innocent Zimbabwe to impose the Zanu PF dictatorship that has kept President Mugabe and Zanu PF in power all these last 36 years.
Whilst the President and his cronies have enjoyed absolute political power and all the influence and material wealth it brings, the war veterans have seen their economic well-being sink and their abuse of povo have lost them the rest they had enjoyed as the country’s liberation war heroes and heroines.
You do not terrorize the people for selfish political gain – a share of the spoils of absolute power – and expect the people to consider you their hero still! And when the economic prosperity has not materialized after decades of waiting patiently, many of them have lived in abject poverty for decades, it is not surprising that the war veterans feel they have been used and then discarded like toilet paper! Except for the war veterans in the security services, civil service or have some such patronage job, the rest of the war veterans are languishing in poverty.
The contrast between those living in poverty and the filthy rich ruling elite has become a yawning chasm that cannot be denied or bridged. Of course, the impoverished war veterans have cause to complain.
The economic situation of the war veterans has sunk to what it is today because President Mugabe has always treated their complains with the same indifference that he has treated the suffering and even deaths of the rest of ordinary Zimbabweans. If anyone had doubted that the indifference was born out of contempt President removed all the doubt in Masvingo!
“Va(Phelekezela) Mphoko hatichavada,” continue President Mugabe in his criticism of the war veterans. “Hazviitwe izvozvo! Vamwe, tumwe twacho hanzi VaMugabe hatichavada. Ko zvino zvausisavade unoti zviitwe sei iwe pachezvako vamwe vazhinji muparty vachiti tinovada? Hanzi ngavanzwe zvandiri kutaura; ngavanzwe zvatiri kutaura.” (We do not want VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko. Some, say they do not want President Mugabe. So, what do you expect to be done since the majority in the party want them? They want everyone to listen to them.)
For the record, it was a handful of the war veterans, some of them in the group now demanding that he must step down, who decided that Mugabe should takeover the leadership of the party from the late Ndabaningi Sithole over forty years ago. Ever since Robert Mugabe has seen to it that all the elective congresses since then endorse him as the leader, with no elections. Even PF Zapu signed the unity accord to join Zanu PF the Robert Mugabe was name as the first secretary of the united party and so there was no election. Now it is clear why President Mugabe has never allowed even his fellow comrades in arms a meaningful vote in who led the party.
President Mugabe’s contempt of the war veterans was lost in translation “Vamwe” (Some) is a Shona word one would use talking about human beings. “Tumwe” (some) is a word one would use talking about deadly disease carrying fleas, bugs one would kill on sight!
If President Mugabe has always treated his fellow war veterans as nothing short of bugs it is clear why he is angry that they should now expect him to give them a share of the power and looted wealth. As for denying them a meaningful vote, who would give a flea or mosquito a vote?