PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday told war veterans that they cannot dictate to him what he should do to re-unite Zanu PF as he set the stage for a bruising meeting with the former liberation war fighters on Thursday.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Mugabe made the combative statements during an address to Zanu PF supporters at the Harare International Airport soon after arrival from a long trip to Japan and Singapore.
The 92-year-old leader also hinted that more Zanu PF officials were on the verge of being expelled from the party for allegedly disrespecting First Lady Grace Mugabe.
He said he was ready to tell the war veterans his mind when he meets them at the City Sports Centre in Harare amid clamours by the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led former fighters for the veteran ruler to rein in a faction linked to his wife.
“The party is the one that lays down systems and procedures,” he thundered.
“We might have associations as part of Zanu PF but they are merely associations.
“You can have charitable associations, war veterans associations, whatever they do, they should come through the party organs,” he said.
“There is no association with powers to dictate what the party has to do, so associations should come through party procedures.”
Mutsvangwa has in the past said the meeting would determine Zanu PF’s future as the war veterans want Mugabe to rein in the G40 faction, which they say is destroying the party from within.
G40 is tussling for control of Zanu PF with a faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe has shown bias towards G40 in recent public statements.
Yesterday he said he was a war veteran as well and he could not be told what to do by the former fighters.
“We went to war together and nobody can claim to be better than the other, even during the war we used to say politics lead the gun,” he said.
He appeared to suggest that the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association led by Mutsvangwa was overstepping its mandate by trying to influence his succession.
“We will not allow the association to rule over us, never, never ever. We will not allow that. We have procedures in the party that need to be followed,” he said while banging his fist on the podium.
“We have a meeting on April 7 and we are going to tell them the truth.”
The meeting was scheduled after war veterans tried to demonstrate against Grace and G40 in Harare last month. The protest was crushed by police who used teargas and water cannons to disperse the former fighters.
Mugabe responded by firing Mutsvangwa from his Cabinet and Zanu PF suspended the former diplomat for three years.
Mutsvangwa has told the media that G40 had access to State House and suggested Mugabe was losing control of the party.
Meanwhile, Mugabe said Zanu PF would soon expel errant members in what could be a purge similar to that of supporters of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Mnangagwa’s supporters have been targeted in the latest purge amid accusations by Grace that he wants to push Mugabe out of power before his term ends in 2018.
“There are people who are not following party procedure, they are coming from the side or from beneath, these weevils we have to fire them from Zanu PF,” he said.
“We cannot desire to have a party member who does not want to follow laid down party procedure and come from behind and destroy the party.”
He said he was also not happy with Zanu PF supporters that supported his family.
“They are those who have belittling us, using derogatory words against us, are those people still members of the party,” Mugabe asked.
Mugabe said after his meeting with war veterans, the Zanu PF central committee would meet to deal with grievances from provinces.
Meanwhile, the Zanu PF leader took pot shots at Mujuru’s newly formed Zimbabwe People First saying there was no reason for his supporters to cross the floor to join the former VP.
“Ignore these people first, second third outfits, they have no supporters out there except in newspapers, as for Tsvangirai we know his weakness is he sees a beautiful face he forgets the people,” he said.
Mujuru’s party has been holding meetings across the country and has vowed to unseat Zanu PF in the 2018 elections.