War veterans’ demands for parliamentary seats in the National Assembly are not only absurd but also lack merit and should not be entertained, political analysts have said.
Over the weekend the freedom fighters told President Emmerson Mnangagwa to reserve seats in Parliament exclusively for the 1970s liberation war fighters in order to preserve the party’s rule.
ZANU-PF has since incorporated war veterans into its party’s structures ahead of its elective congress slated for next month.
Presenting the war veterans league conference resolution its secretary for legal affairs in ZANU-PF Jairos Mapuranga said: “Consideration should be made to have a war veterans’ quota in the (National) Assembly to ensure that the party is represented by the comrades grounded in ideology to override the system of individuals with narrow selfish interests.”
But political analysts have dismissed the demands as absurd and misguided.
“First, we are a representative democracy whose lifeblood is an election,” said Rejoice Ngwenya.
“We cannot afford an unelected element in Parliament, given that the whole war vet narrative is partisan. Besides these guys are too old to offer anything in Parliament. These demands are naive and misguided.”
Ngwenya said there was no justification for war veterans to feel entitled to parliamentary seats.
“Why not just join a candidature like every aspiring office bearer?” he queried.
“Why do they feel entitled to exclusive parliamentary status? These demands are driven by political greed and motivated by the desire for benefits. It is fear of competition. They know in the public political arena of competition, they are unelectable.”
Vusumuzi Chirwa war veterans were already represented in the ruling party.
“It is politically absurd for war veterans to demand parliamentary seats when the majority revolutionary party they belong to consists of them,” said Chirwa. “It’s folly for them to not know that they are largely represented from the presidium to cabinet to both houses of parliament, what further representation do they want?”
Chirwa said while seats for women and youths were justified, those for war veterans were not.
“We won’t have war veterans forever; they are growing and dying and one day there won’t be even one war veteran remaining and who will represent ghosts in the future?” he said.
“Let’s rather have seats for economists, students, industrialists, and workers instead, especially in the Senate.
He said he does not believe that the majority of war veterans subscribe to those demands.
“If we can have seats for war veterans, then seats for domestic workers, street cleaners, undertakers, barbers, beauty therapists, drivers and conductors will also be justified,” he added.
Fortune Mlalazi said it was not surprising that such demands were coming from war veterans affiliated with ZANU-PF.
“It’s not surprising when such absurd things are happening in Zimbabwe,” he decried.
“For a number of reasons when people gather and under any structure of ZANU-PF they are bound to make such demands. So, we must not be surprised. The next thing they would want is reserved seats in heaven.”
The war veterans’ demands, Mlalazi said, were counter-democracy.
“All that we are fighting for is the democratisation of our country, which means everyone must be voted for and individuals must seek to be voted for,” he said. “These ones who want seats reserved it’s something else and besides, if we were to do a headcount of war veterans in Parliament now, you will see that we have a very huge number.”
He further explained: “Let’s suppose that you agree with them and say we will indeed reserve the seats, the most unfortunate thing is that those people who are making those demands are making them on behalf of certain individuals that will benefit but the poor of the poorest will not benefit. So, it’s just a useless demand that seeks to propel particular individuals to positions and not the actual war veterans.”
Mlalazi added: “The actual war veterans are suffering in Nkayi, Muzarabani and elsewhere else in the rural areas. There is nothing that drives these war veterans except greed by certain individuals and the subversion of the democratic processes that we have. That’s the nature of what ZANU-PF is.”