|March 1, 2005
Former freedom fighters turn against Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party would not be able to rely on the support of the country's war veterans in its March 31 election, a group of the country's war veterans have announced. The Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform consists mainly of former fighters who fought under Mugabe to depose the apartheid-style government of Ian Smith during the 1980s. But the organisation is now disillusioned by Mugabe, and has spoken out against the corruption, mismanagement and social ruin brought on the country by Zanu (PF). The war veterans "no longer want to support Mugabe", war veteran Wilfred Mhanda has announced. "There is no basis for legitimacy. Zimbabwe faces a social and economic crisis," he said.
According to Mhanda, the war veterans had been a source of support for Mugabe in previous elections, but they would not play a major role this time. In his view, moreover, the land grab was an exercise in "self-enrichment" by Mugabe's government that ultimately did little to change the lot of war veterans. Other former war veterans not aligned to the group echoed these sentiments. "Mugabe has to go. It's getting embarrassing," said one.
Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accused the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation of refusing to flight its adverts in the lead up to the poll. "They have only showed a four-minute package of the launch of our manifesto, but then aired a two-hour interview with President Robert Mugabe," said MDC information officer Ngqabutho Dube.
(Business Day, Johannesburg)