Zimbabwe’s War Veterans and the Ruling Party: Continuities in Political Dynamics
Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans emerged as critical allies of the ruling party in the June 2000 parliamentary election campaign. Faced with the most serious electoral threat in its 20-year rule, ZANU(PF) forged an alliance with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA). War veterans spearheaded the invasion and occupation of white commercial farmers, led compulsory political education sessions in the rural areas and terrorized farm workers and others suspected of being opposition supporters. For their services, the ZNLWVA was supposed to pay them with party money. The party provided other types of assistance for the veterans and their supporters. It gave them access to army, intelligence and police logistical support (such as food and transport), and protection against the rule of law. Veterans and party leaders together invoked the liberation war to justify their land grabbing and presented the new opposition as a neocolonial party which threatened to turn back the gains of the liberation struggle. The partnership between veterans and the party has persisted since the election. Veterans continue to invade and build on farms, and collect fees for land allocation and building rights. In the government’s new accelerated land reform programme, veterans are a preferential group – they will receive 20 per cent of resettlement plots.
KeywordsDisability Pension State Resource Assembly Camp Privileged Access Ruling Party
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