As the battle to succeed the then aging Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe reached its tipping end, the old man realised the mistake he had done after divorcing his foot soldiers the war vets, who had played a pivotal role in making sure, the elderly statesman retained power.
The war vets have had previously been used by Mugabe, to torture, intimidate, or even kill opposition party supporters in the rural areas. They were given the authority to deal with them as they please.
At one time, I remember one chief in Mt Darwin, saying they had been given orders that whenever they call for a meeting with their subjects, at least one or two war vets should be in attendance.
This is how important the war vets have been to Mugabe, he referred to them as his reserve army.
Meanwhile, Mugabe’s fall out with the liberation heroes was a major blow to his intention to remain in power until death. Either the fallout was a planned move by Team Lacoste, or as result of Grace Mugabe’s reckless and demeaning remarks towards them; Mugabe knew it one way or the other that the centre was no longer holding.
The war vets authored a communiqué suggesting that Mugabe should hand over power to Mnangagwa when he retires, this angered the President, and resulted in the arresting of Christopher Mutsvangwa and Victor Matemadanda.
They were allegedly charged with a treasonous crime of undermining the authority of the President.
The war vets’ allegiance to Mugabe’s then deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa gave him sleepless nights, crystal clear, a storm was brewing. It was now gloves off, at one time Mugabe sent ‘his’ police with water cannons to go and disrupt their meeting at the City Sports Centre.
The war vets also challenged Mugabe for applying principles selectively, they called for the arresting of Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, and Patrick Zhuwao, for proposing that Sydney Sekeramayi should succeed Mugabe. They said if they (war vets) can be arrested for backing Mnangagwa, then similarly, the three G40s should be arrested as well, for backing Sekeramayi.
The war vets also accused Mugabe of creating the G40 cabal, in order to stop Mnangagwa from succeeding him.
Mugabe then realised how the nasty fallout would cost him, he set Mandi Chimene to lead another faction of the war vets, who were loyal to him.
The war vets had split into two groups, but Mutsvangwa had the larger group, that Mugabe, through Chimene failed to neutralise.
This spilt into the courts of law, but the Judiciary which had close relations with Mnangagwa who once had been minister of justice ruled in Mutsvangwa’s favour. The Zimbabwean Judiciary had never been independent, and as such, it had its own sides in every situation.
Chimene lost the war, Mutsvangwa won it, Mugabe lost the war, and Mnangagwa won it.
Peter Nyoni is a Zimbabwean businessman, He travels frequently between Harare and South Africa