WAR veterans in Bulawayo have distanced themselves from recent statements made by Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya and warned him to stop misrepresenting former liberation war fighters by claiming that all ex-combatants were against handing over power to the opposition MDC party.
Mahiya last week said war veterans would not let power slip into the hands of the opposition MDC party, which he accused of being a proxy of the West, accusing the European Union of plotting to destabilise President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule.
But ex-Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) war veteran Godfrey Mlalazi said Mahiya and his crew should not claim to be representing the aspirations and interests of all the war veterans because some former combatants had since joined the MDC.
“Mahiya and his crew must shut up and stop misrepresenting us. We are not interested in the dirty politics he is playing. If he is a real leader of the war veterans, he must be fighting for our welfare, which is in shambles,” Mlalazi said.
“As we speak, most war veterans children’s school fees for last term has not been paid. He must be making noise about that, but he is busy playing politics using our name as war veterans.”
Mlalazi said most of the war veterans were suffering and benefiting nothing from the Zanu PF government that Mahiya and those close to the echelons of power are supporting.
“He is attacking the MDC so much, but some of us know that it is the party with legislators who have made noise in Parliament over war veterans’ benefits and laws that benefit war veterans to be put in place,” he said.
Mlalazi said pension pay-outs for war veterans in the new dispensation were being paid late, unlike before the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe.
He said the delay was because the war veterans leadership was busy politicking for their own stomachs, instead of representing the majority of the former fighters.
“Mahiya must know that just because he is enjoying the benefits of being close to the echelons of power, it does not mean that all war veterans are enjoying,” he said.
“In whatever he was saying, he was representing himself, not us. He must not seek to divide war veterans by bringing political affiliation to us, because we are war veterans before being political affiliates.”
Another ex-Zipra war veteran Wilson Ndlovu, who is programmes officer for Mafela Trust, a non-governmental organisation documenting and archiving the liberation war history, concurred with Mlalazi’s sentiments, saying Mahiya’s remarks did not represent the interests of liberation war fighters. He said most of the remarks made by war veterans’ representatives were not in the interest of majority war veterans and should be taken with suspicion.
Mahiya last week said war veterans were a “renowned force, which was well aware that the EU was mooting to destabilise the government of Mnangagwa” and was ready to hit back.