Many Zimbabweans having been expressing their discontentment with President Robert Mugabe’s government, with some holding successful widespread protests calling for a change in the country.
In what seems like the final stroke after a series of recent nationwide-anti-government revolt, veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war, say they will not back President Mugabe in elections.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which has been behind the 92-year old leader for decades, revealed on Thursday, they will no longer support Mugabe calling him dictatorial, manipulative and egocentric.
Recent protests have been fueled by an economic crisis that has hit the country leaving banks with limited cash for citizens, and a government that is struggling to pay its workers. Amidst these challenges, the aging president has vowed to stand for election in 2018, a move that has not been well received.
Mugabe’s 36-year-old regime has always relied on the war veterans for support which gave him the political muscle to continue ruling. But now, Mugabe’s former comrades in the country’s liberation war in the 1970s that ended British colonial rule have come out to denounce the leader.
“The Zanu-PF party leadership has dismally failed to... address the economic problems that have beset our great nation,” a statement by the veterans said.
“We note with concern, shock and utter dismay the entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle.”
Other than the economic turmoil that has irked the freedom fighters, they also pointed out that Mugabe has abandoned them for the youth league of the ruling ZANU-PF party. The group also criticized Mugabe’s “tendency to indulge, in his usual vitriol against perceived enemies, including peaceful protesters, as well as war veterans, when the economy is on its knees,” the strongly-worded statement said. “He has a lot to answer for the serious plight of the national economy.”
Earlier this week, in response to the Zimbabwean cleric, Evan Mawarire, who has been organizing anti-government protests, President Mugabe told the pastor to leave Zimbabwe if he was unhappy with conditions there. He said that Mawarire should not be trusted as he was sponsored by foreign countries to sabotage Zimbabwe.
Mawarire was arrested last week but was later released after a court threw out the charges of subversion against him. According to the pastor’s lawyers, the charges had been added at the last minute, denying him a fair trial.
Mawarire, the initiator of #thisflag, a social media campaign urging Zimbabweans to take a stand against corruption and poor governance, is currently in South Africa. He told the BBC that he was more scared of daughters' criticism of inaction than what the state could do to him if he returned.
From the recent protests, Zimbabweans are tired of a government that is burdening them with economic struggles. According to sources that confided in the BBC, the latest document from the war veterans also includes views of senior military figures.
Earlier in the month, many Zimbabweans observed a one-day national strike against the country’s worsening economic crisis. Many offices, shops, and some government departments remained closed to observe the protest.