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Home | ZimCrisis -- Splinter Group Lobbies War Veterans to End Anarchy

Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 02:59:04 -0700
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From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis -- Splinter Group Lobbies War Veterans to End Anarchy
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Financial Gazette

Some former guerrillas of Zimbabwe's 1970's liberation war campaign are mobilising war veterans under the newly-formed Liberators' Platform for Peace and Development to end the lawlessness and anarchy in the country, a spokesman for the organisation said this week. Dzinashe Machingura, a member of the interim executive of Platform, said some former fighters felt they could no longer stand idle while Zimbabwe's achievements were being sacrificed "by unscrupulous opportunists and careerists" for selfish gains.

"The association is a platform for the restoration of peace and order in the country. The events of the past few months in Zimbabwe have done incalculable harm to the country in terms of business losses, investment opportunities, racial relations and the image of the country abroad," he told the Financial Gazette. "If we cannot stop it now, it will take us many years to repair the damage."

Machingura and five others - Webster Gwauya, Parker Chikowere, Abel Sibanda, Kennedy Taitezvi and Modern Mutsetse - form the interim committee of the organisation, which is opposed to the activities of veterans led by Chenjerai Hunzvi. Hunzvi has spearheaded a campaign to invade and demarcate commercial farms as well as intimidate the opposition. At least 23 people have been killed since Hunzvi's group, with the approval of President Robert Mugabe, unleashed a reign of terror in the country three months ago.

The leaders of Platform are among the architects and signatories of the 1976 Mgagao Declaration, which spearheaded the resumption of the liberation struggle after a truce ushered in by the 1975 Lusaka Declaration. Some of them such as Machingura were in the high command of the Zimbabwe People's Army then led by the late Joshua Nkomo.

"The level of violence in the country is totally unacceptable. We strongly believe that if there was commitment and goodwill on the part of the executive, this violence could be checked because the police have enough resources to handle this violence," Machingura said. He said it was unfair to blame the lawlessness on all veterans because only a few of them were involved and these were being manipulated by the ruling party in exchange for material gains. "True war veterans are not involved in these invasions. It is only a vocal few that are being manipulated by politicians and mainly political hooligans who are involved," he said. He said land redistribution should be based on need and called for a study of people's needs to be carried out first.

Hunzvi is demanding 20 percent of all land earmarked for redistribution for his members, who form less than one percent of Zimbabwe's 12 million-plus population.

"On what basis is this demand being made? A study should be carried out to establish the needs of the people and we believe that land should be given to all people, whether war veterans or not," Machingura said. He said although land was an issue in Zimbabwe, it had been over-dramatised by some politicians for election purposes. If the issue had been given priority by the government, it would have been addressed during the past 20 years. Machingura said the government was sitting on more than five million hectares of land it was reluctant to resettle landless peasants on.

His organisation would soon convene a national consultative conference to discuss how best to end the lawlessness and improve Zimbabwe's tarnished image.

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk