President Mugabe has no moral authority to lecture people on how bad the MDC-T and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai are because he helped establish the opposition party, a war veterans leader has said.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said Mugabe forced Tsvangirai, then secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, out of Zanu PF before challenging the trade unionist to a political fight.
“Tsvangirai was Zanu PF and was, as has happened with many others including war veterans, forced out of the party. Mugabe in the late 90s also challenged Tsvangirai to a political fight and personally asked him to form a party,” Mahiya told Newzimbabwe.
“So, Mugabe cannot tell anyone about how good or bad the MDC-T is to the country’s politics because it’s his baby. If he had not pushed Tsvangirai out and challenged him to a political fight there would not have been an MDC-T to talk about,” he added Mahiya.
Tsvangirai, then leader of the ZCTU, led popular protests against Mugabe’s government demanding better working conditions for workers. An irate Mugabe then challenged the labour leader to join full-time politics.
The then united MDC was formed in September 1999 and almost dislodged Mugabe from power. Ahead of the 2000 elections Mugabe triggered violent farm invasions and land expropriations as well as general chaos across the country’s democratic institutions including the courts to retain power.
War veterans, led by the late Chenjerai Hunzvi at the time, were used as shock-troopers after government doled out $50 000 in the then local currency to each of the thousands of former freedom fighters as a token of appreciation for their role in the bush war that brought independence.
The military was also roped in with the generals, in 2202, issuing a chilling statement now infamously called the “straight-jacket” declaration in which they warned that only those who had fought in the liberation struggle had a right to rule Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai went on to defeat Mugabe in the first round of 2008 polls before the Zanu PF leader again resorted to blood-letting in a one man run-off election.
The MDC-T leader has since been joined by Mugabe’s former deputy Joice Mujuru who was forced out of Zanu PF in December 2014 before she formed the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party. Leading figures in the war veterans movement have also been shown the door and the relations between Mugabe and the former freedom fighters has continued on a down-ward spiral since the ZNLWVA issued a damning statement urging the Zanu PF leader to leave office.