War Veterans Plot Mugabe Victory

War Veterans Plot Mugabe Victory

HARARE - Zimbabwe's war veterans converge in Harare today for an emergency meeting to plot strategy to mobilise votes for President Robert Mugabe in a tricky election in three weeks' time.

The veterans are hardliner supporters of Mugabe who have waged violence and terror against the opposition at every election to ensure victory for the Zimbabwean leader and his ruling ZANU PF party. The former fighters of Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of independence were at the vanguard of Mugabe’s controversial land reforms in which several white farmers and their black workers were killed or injured. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans (ZNLWVA) vice-chairman Joseph Chinotimba told ZimOnline that today’s meeting at ZANU-PF headquarters in Harare was to map out plans for a peaceful but vigorous programme to win support for the ruling party which he described as besieged. However, Chinotimba ominously warned that the veterans – who he said wanted to rid ZANU PF of enemies working from within the party – would resort to violence if attacked. We should also discuss deployment plans because our members are actively involved in campaigning for President Mugabe and our party ZANU-PF. We are not going to wage a violent campaign, he said. In fact, we are urging our members to campaign peacefully and only to resort to violence when attacked only as an act of self-defence,” added Chinotimba, who led the violent seizure of white farms eight years ago. Mugabe faces probably his toughest political test in the March 29 presidential poll that is combined with parliamentary and council elections and in which he squares up against his respected former finance minister Simba Makoni and popular main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The veterans, who last year led marches across the country in support of Mugabe, insist that he is the only one fit to rule Zimbabwe despite a worsening economic crisis and food shortages blamed on his policies. Nevertheless, insiders say the veterans, whose support is crucial for Mugabe, are no longer united behind the 84-year old President, citing former liberation war top commander Dumiso Dabengwa and retired army major Kudzai Mbudzi’s defection to back Makoni as a sign of widening divisions among ex-combatants. However, political analysts say that an unfair electoral field and a political climate of fear could just be enough to guarantee Mugabe victory. The veteran leader – who at one time boasted that no one could have run Zimbabwe better than him – has promised a landslide victory against Tsvangirai and Makoni to prove he has the support of ordinary Zimbabweans.

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