The 92-year old president hinted about retirement when he warned veterans of the 1970s independence war against trying to influence the choice of his successor when he eventually leaves office. Mugabe on Friday in Harare said leaders of the influential Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association had indicated their willingness for his retirement.
Mugabe said he would have considered their opinion, if they had asked him directly. He, however, warned that that the veterans should stick to looking at the welfare of men and women who fought against colonial rule and not dabble in ZANU-PF’s succession politics.
“War veterans must know that it is the politics that leads the gun, not vice versa, as the war veterans are not bosses of the party.’’ Mugabe, a war veteran himself, warned that the war veterans have no business to talk about succession in the party. Meanwhile, the president has previously said his successor must be chosen democratically and no automatic ticket for his wife Grace.
Mugabe said the veterans, who have publicly accused some ZANU-PF members of trying to manipulate the president by rallying behind his wife, were behaving like dissidents.
He recalled that in Zimbabwe, that term revives memories of a 1980s crackdown against Mugabe’s political rivals by an elite North Korean-trained brigade in which rights groups say some 20,000 civilians, most from the minority Ndebele tribe, were killed.
“Are we seeing another dissident rise and activity again?
“The dissidents tried it and failed,’’ he said.