Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe,92, has lashed out the country's former liberation fighters, calling them dissidents and threatening to unleash brutal force against any insurgents within his ruling Zanu-PF party, a report said on Friday.
Mugabe’s threats came just less than a weeks after the war veterans officially endorsed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from the ailing veteran leader.
The former freedom fighters said that Mnangagwa was the next in line to take over the presidency
They said that their decision to endorse Mnangagwa was irreversible.
But speaking at the ruling Zanu-PF party politburo meeting on Thursday, Mugabe said that the country’s former freedom fighters should not force his hand as he would react with brutal force, NewsDay reported.
The nonagenarian 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".
Mugabe said that his party would not be held at ransom by the war veterans.
"Dissidents tried it and you know what happened. Those dissidents were war veterans too. No, war veterans, that is not your function. It’s not your business to choose who should succeed and who should not, worse doing so under the pretext that there would be bloodshed if your preferred person doesn’t succeed. You want to shed blood? That is dissident behaviour and we will not allow it. Steps are going to be taken,” Mugabe was quoted as saying.
Reports indicated that 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.
Media reports have in the past months indicated that Zanu-PF was riddled with warring factions as party leaders positioned themselves to eventually succeed the nonagenarian.
Among the possible names in the looming battle to take over were Mugabe's wife Grace, 50, and his two vice presidents, Phelekezela Mphoko and Mnangagwa.
A new group of Young Turks, Generation 40 (G40), was pushing for Grace to be the next deputy president, thus, positioning her to eventually succeed the ailing president.