Thursday, August 14, 2008


HARARE, Jabulani Sibanda, chairman of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association, does not believe reports claiming that veterans who fought for and achieved Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980 are behind the ongoing political violence in the country.

He says the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) represents foreign interests and has to be stopped, which means Zimbabweans should never vote the opposition into power. "That can never happen. That is why we have to educate the people at rallies; invite them to different meetings so that they have an understanding of what is happening."

"As war veterans, our loyalties lie with President Robert Mugabe, a tried and tested revolutionary, who is also the patron of our association. So, based on that, it has to be understood that we support his candidature and have travelled around the country to mobilise support for him. However, let me emphasise that my leadership style is strictly that of non-violence.

"If there are any acts of violence, they are blamed on war veterans, but my question is: 'How do people know that the perpetrators would be war veterans?' There are some ZANU-PF members who have been killed by MDC supporters, but nobody says anything. Only when an MDC supporter is beaten do you hear all this noise. There are war veterans in the MDC, but I have never heard anybody blaming MDC war veterans for any political violence.

"I have instances of war veterans who have been killed, maimed and beaten by members of the MDC, but that is never reported on; I have instances of members whose homes have been destroyed and set on fire by MDC supporters, but that is never highlighted in the news - that unarmed war veterans are being killed by armed MDC supporters.

"I don't know [who is behind the violence]; I cannot answer for hundreds of thousands of people. What I can tell you is that, as an organisation, violence is something that we regard as counter-productive, especially in an election environment. It's not part of our policies. Personally, I hate violence.

"The MDC leadership have made very threatening statements about the war veterans, in the event that they come into power. They have made statements which suggest that they will exterminate all war veterans when they get into power. They have shown no respect for the role played by war veterans in removing colonial slavery.

"Now they assume that whoever attacks them would be a war veteran trying to defend their territory. Those are very misplaced assumptions because, as war veterans, we are very clear [on this]: we respect the people since the days of the war [of independence], when they provided us with information, food, clothing and other forms of assistance.

"It does not make sense for a war veteran to fight the people. You are talking about freedom fighters, who put their lives on the line in order to protect and liberate the very same people.

"As I pointed out earlier, I hate violence. I am not aware of a [hit] list, and would condemn any attacks on journalists. We have courts in this country; if anybody disagrees with the work of any journalist, then such issues should be settled in court and not at the gravesite."



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