Harare – Zimbabwe's former freedom fighters have vowed to go down fighting, after President Robert Mugabe's public tongue lashing last week, NewsDay reports.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said the ex-liberation fighters were still going to meet and discuss how to respond to Mugabe’s threats.
Mugabe, 92, issued a "strong warning" to the former freedom fighters last Thursday, saying that his ruling Zanu-PF party would not be held at "ransom" by what he described as "dissidents".
His remarks came as an official response to the war veterans' claim last week, that they had endorsed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from the ailing veteran leader.
The former freedom fighters claimed that Mnangagwa was the next in line to take over the presidency, adding that their decision to endorse him was "irreversible".
They also allegedly threatened bloodshed should Mnangagwa's bid to succeed Mugabe fail.
But the veteran leader warned the war veterans, saying they must "tread" carefully as he would react with brutal force against "dissidents."
The nonagenarian also reminded the former liberation fighters of one of the country's most brutal genocides after independence, saying that he would not hesitate to once more crush "rebellion".
At least 20 000 civilians were killed in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980s following the deployment of the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade allegedly to "thwart a dissident movement" in a genocide now commonly referred to as Gukurahundi.
Mahiya, however, maintained that the former freedom fighters were consulting and would respond to Mugabe's utterances by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, according to New Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s outburst was condemned throughout the country, with the recently formed Zimbabwe People First describing it as "psychopathy taken too far".
The Movement for democratic Change led by Welshman Ncube said that it was "shocked" to hear the veteran leader’s outburst.