War Vets in U-turn on one million men march

DISGRUNTLED former liberation war fighters have finally decided to join Wednesday’s Zanu PF youth league-organised million-men march meant to prove backing for President Robert Mugabe.

War veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda

War veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda

The veteran leader was due back Tuesday from Singapore where he went to collect his family where they have been holed up since daughter Bona, gave birth to a baby son last month.

Opposition parties have condemned the Africa Day march, saying Zimbabweans should not be celebrating Mugabe’s ruinous three-decade-plus rule.

The war veterans, earlier, this month had declared that they were not going to take part in the march, claiming the demonstration did not have a “clear agenda”.

But on Monday Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association secretary general Victor Matemadanda told reporters in Harare that they were now going to participate.

“The question then (when they ruled out joining) was about misinformation,” Matemadanda told a press conference in Harare.

“People were not given information and they were saying that we cannot join if we do not know the purpose of the event because there was a lot of speculation.

“(But) this is what has been rectified, and they (organisers) have given us the information that we wanted and we have no doubt that the march is in support of President Mugabe and we have no reason not to attend.”

When threatening to boycott the march, the war veterans said that they believed that the demonstration was being organised by the Grace Mugabe linked Zanu PF youths.

They claimed the march was meant to protest against Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa’s mooted Presidential ambitions.

Mnangagwa is being backed by war veterans in a succession battle against the party’s young Turks who, supposedly, want the veteran leader’s wife, Grace, to take over power from her husband.

On Monday, Matemadanda said war veterans would now provide leadership and guidance to the youths who organised the event.

“These are our children and yes they might have their own position but they remain our children When we get there we are parents and parents do not necessarily lead but they advise and advice is leadership because you are giving knowledge which is new to them but which you have used before,” he said.

In a statement this week, the opposition MDC-T party said Zimbabweans should hijack the march and use it to protest against Mugabe’s failed leadership.

“Thanks to more than three decades of the Zanu PF dictatorship, Zimbabwe has virtually collapsed into a failed State in which more than 85% of the population is living in abject poverty and destitution,” said party spokesman Obert Gutu.

“It is a notorious fact that the majority of Zimbabweans are living on less than US$2 per day.

“In the land of plenty, only a few thousand people, mainly members of the ruling Zanu PF elite, are enjoying the fruits of our hard won independence.”

“Instead of massaging the personal ego of the man who has caused the pauperisation of millions of Zimbabweans by staging a totally puerile, purposeless and wasteful so-called million men march …

“ … the Zanu PF regime or whichever of its factions is organizing and funding this thoroughly discredited march, should actually be staging a march to publicly apologise to Zimbabweans for ruining and destroying a country that used to be the bread basket of Southern Africa.”


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