By William Milasi
FORMER President Robert Mugabe backed party National Patriotic Front (NPF) has said ex-combatants must not be hoodwinked by the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration into believing it will improve their welfare.
NPF President Ambrose Mutinhiri in his address said the liberation war fighters must protect their legacy by voting for constitutionalism.
Mutinhiri’s statements come soon after Mnangagwa recently pledged to raise the war veteran’s pensions and allowances.
War veterans have, for a long time, played a key role in the ruling Zanu PF party’s election machinery and have in the past been at the forefront of mobilizing party supporters.
“I am against the manner in which this administration grabbed power from the country’s legitimate leader,” Mutinhiri said before adding that the liberation war heroes must desist from being used.
“War veterans must not be used by people who are not constitutionally elected,” he said.
Ironically for the former Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister, his ally, Mugabe, used to rely on war veterans during the elections.
So tight was the bond between the former strongman and the ex-combatants that in November 1997 Mugabe was forced to cough out unbudgeted gratuities after war veterans had marched to his State House offices resulting in the Zimbabwe dollar plunging in value on a day that came to be known as ‘Black Friday.”
War vets, however, fought for Mnangagwa and the military takeover and have declared that they will be spearheading Zanu PF’s elections campaign.
Meanwhile, Mutinhiri has said that his party though new is going to have significant parliamentary seats and possibly form the next government after the national plebiscite expected in July.
He added that NPF is not only against the military power grab but also respects constitutionalism amongst other issues.
“NPF is not going to impose candidates on the people. People will be the ones to choose their leaders. We are going to follow the constitution,” he said.
Mutinhiri, who once served as the country’s ambassador to Yugoslavia, said NPF has made inroads in the country.
“Our party though new has made serious inroads in the country. We are receiving new members and our party boasts of grassroots support both in urban and rural areas,” said Mutinhiri.