Prosecution of war veterans begin
By Lukmon Akintola
Two senior members of Zimbabwe’s war veterans’ association were arrested on Monday in what observers describe as an expected crackdown on critics of president Robert Mugabe.
Victor Matemadanda, secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), was taken away by police at the court hearing of a colleague facing charges of insulting the head of state.
His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said Matemadanda has been accused of undermining Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group said the war veterans’ political commissar, Francis Nhando, was also arrested outside the court on Sunday. Nhando last month declared that the relationship between Mugabe and the war veterans had “broken down”.
Mugabe, 92, who has ruled since 1980, has faced a groundswell of opposition in recent months as the country’s troubled economy faces very tumultous challenges with the government struggling to pay its workforce.
Previously loyal supporters of the president, the war veterans had released a statement two weeks ago accusing Mugabe of being unable to address Zimbabwe’s problems. “When we find out who the people were … the punishment will be severe,” Mugabe said, referring to the unsigned authors of the war veterans’ statement.
A new non-partisan opposition movement known as ThisFlag and led by Pastor Evan Mwawarire has also galvanised anti-government sentiment in Zimbabwe, where security forces have crushed signs of dissent for decades.