Zimbabwe's Mugabe seeks to calm angry war veterans

2016-04-07 21:05
Shelton Magwenya ,78, a war veteran, shows his accreditation card for a meeting with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AFP)

Shelton Magwenya ,78, a war veteran, shows his accreditation card for a meeting with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Thursday sought to shore up his hold on power by offering reassurances to war veterans who have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of his regime.

The war veterans have often played a crucial, and violent, role in supporting Mugabe.

But, as the 92-year-old president has become more frail, they have been infuriated by criticism aimed at them by Mugabe's wife, Grace, 50, who is one possible candidate to succeed him.

"I am sorry you have not had this opportunity before," Mugabe said addressing his first open meeting with war veterans since fighting ended with Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

"The condition of the war veterans is a priority and I leave you with my promise," he said, vowing to allocate money to pay for hospital bills and children's school fees.

In February, Zimbabwean police shocked many observers by using water cannons and teargas to prevent a meeting planned by the war veterans to air their grievances.

Some of the veterans back former vice-president Joyce Mujuru, herself a former fighter, to take over from Mugabe.

She was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party in 2015 at the apparent instigation of Grace Mugabe, who accused her of plotting to topple the president.

"Some are calculating the President is going to die," Mugabe, who has ruled since independence, told the crowd of about 10 000 at a sport centre in Harare.

"That's why you see people now jostling each other [for power]. To put you to shame, I am not dying."

Starting in 2000, the war veterans led the seizures of white-owned commercial farms in what Mugabe said was a reversal of imbalances from the colonial era.

The seizures have been blamed for a slump in food production that contributed to the country's economic collapse.

Some veterans are also accused of the widespread intimidation and violence during recent elections that have kept Mugabe in power.

"We played a role in the liberation of our country," Menias Chimbaira, 62, told AFP.

"We need to remind the younger generations, especially the young politicians, to accord us our right place."

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.