Zimbabwe President Mugabe warns dissenting war veterans

Robert Mugabe. PHOTO: AP

ZIMBABWE‘S ‘s President Robert Mugabe has threatened to punish those war veterans who last week said they were withdrawing their backing for him.
At a rally of his Zanu-PF party supporters and veterans who remain loyal to him, Mr Mugabe also urged the veterans to choose new leaders.
He blamed the West for splits in the veterans’ association, BBC reported.
The association, one of Mr Mugabe’s key backers, last week accused him of dictatorial tendencies.
In a statement, it also blamed the 92-year-old president for the rapidly deteriorating economic situation in the country.
It was not immediately clear if all of the veterans of the 1970s war against white minority rule agreed with the text.
Pressure on Mr Mugabe is growing, with factions in the governing Zanu-PF openly fighting to succeed him and protests about the failing economy.
But he has said he plans to run for president again in 2018 and rule until he dies.
Addressing Wednesday’s rally in the capital, Harare, Mr Mugabe said: “Once we find out who wrote that statement, the party will punish them.
“During the war we had rebels who we punished… some by detaining them underground, feeding them there”.
He also warned that “the enemy is trying to divide us”, blaming the West – in particular the British and US embassies – for the divisions.
The president also threatened protesters with jail, saying the country did not want violence.
The war veterans spearheaded the invasion of white-owned farms starting in 2000 and have been accused of using election violence to keep Mr Mugabe in power.