4 May 2017

Zimbabwe: War Vets Heed Chiwenga's Counsel

Photo: The Citizen
Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga (file photo).

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson Mr Christopher Mutsvangwa yesterday said his association stood guided by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga's counsel that they must respect the leadership in Zanu-PF and Government. War veterans, Mr Mutsvangwa said, would give Gen Chiwenga's words the weight they deserve. Gen Chiwenga is the surviving most senior commander of the Second Chimurenga on the Zanla side.

In an interview with The Herald, Mr Mutsvangwa said Gen Chiwenga was a very senior commander who seldom strayed into political issues and it was wise to listen and abide by his words when he spoke.

"He is a serving General and he never normally strays into political issues," he said.

"He is also a very senior commander. He went to war in 1973 when he was very young.

"He has built up a lot of experience and wisdom and so when he decides to say something we give it due weight and gravity. It is only right and proper that we listen to him with respect."

Asked why some war veterans had of late been engulfed in negativity, Mr Mutsvangwa said opinions differed, but the ideology remained the same.

"There are more than 30 000 war veterans," he said. "We went to war and fought on voluntary basis. War veterans make conscious decisions about issues which face them.

"There is nothing wrong with diverse views among war veterans. We do not have to sing from the same hymn book. We are not clones of each other. We think differently, but we come from the same ideological orientation.

"If we have good intentions towards each other, we will always find each other. We find common ground afterwards because we have gone through the same ideological mill."

In an interview with The Herald and Sunday Mail on Monday, Gen Chiwenga said Zimbabwe's security services would not stand by while rogue elements belittle their Commander-in-Chief President Mugabe.

He warned that dissent from quarters that should know better would not be tolerated.

Gen Chiwenga said many of the people making political noises today were either utterly misguided, had a history of treachery or were Johnnies-come-lately to the struggle.

This followed a stream of commentary in the private media from a war veterans grouping trying to create the impression that the majority of liberation fighters -- who are a Reserve Force -- have lost faith in President Mugabe.

Gen Chiwenga's sentiments came on the back of claims by some politicians within Zanu-PF that they were the President's number one backers, yet they had a well-documented history of treachery.

Gen Chiwenga said people like ZNLWVA spokesperson Mr Douglas Mahiya should appreciate that they were fronting an NGO and not the majority of ex-combatants.

"I am talking on behalf of the Defence and Security Services of the country; and besides that, on the Zanla side, I am the surviving most senior commander. And I am not in the (war veterans) association," he said.

"But when they go out there they talk as war veterans. They must talk as a war veterans association. But who are these people? What were they during the struggle that makes them think that they are now more revolutionary than Zanla and Zipra at the height of war? What role did they play?

"If they understood the political teachings -- that the party commands the gun and not vice versa, that everyone must respect the leadership -- they should know that today in independent Zimbabwe we must all respect the leadership both in Government and in the party."

Gen Chiwenga said anyone with a grievance should follow the correct channels to air their views, and already such opportunity had been presented by President Mugabe to all war veterans -- and not just a single association -- when he invited them to last year's historic indaba.

He dismissed claims that he should not intervene in such matters, asserting that his history as a liberation fighter, and his status as the Commander of the ZDF and a citizen gave him the right to defend his Commander-in-Chief and safeguard Zimbabwe's stability.

"Speaking on behalf of the Defence and Security Services of the country, this nonsense must now come to an end," he said. "We will not have our Commander-in-Chief being belittled by nobodies, who never commanded any battle ... Ngatiregei kudaro.

"Nevamwe zvino vakuzviti vanoziva, tafunda sitereki, tava ma professor -- vakatiza hondo iyi. Nhasi ikozvino izvi they now know."

Mr Mahiya yesterday promised to contact The Herald with a comment each time he was phoned, but never did.

He was quoted in the private media yesterday as saying: "If the commander (Gen Chiwenga) has spoken, we have to listen to him because tiri vana vadiki, tinovatya.

"What he says we will do. I am sorry that I said too much."

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