Friday, June 24, 2005

Shaking in their boots

After approving of their violent occupation of farms but then unceremoniously dumping the war vets during the "cleanup", Mugabe & Co., now have the unenviable task of calming the rage of their war vets, their hitherto allies now turned most dangerous threat yet from within the country.

The war vets were enraged by the police's wanton destruction of their properties on farms which they had invaded over the past five years (with government approval).

On Monday I wrote that,

"The most confused though are the "war vets." Led by self proclaimed leaders, this is the group that started the violent occupation of farms. They had the support of the government even before that; in 1998 Mugabe & Co. decided to pay them "gratuities" for fighting in the war of independence. When they started fighting the third "Chimurenga" (struggle) that of taking back land, their violence was given tacit approval by the government. So they galvanized and formed housing cooperations, small business groups etc. They even had singers put their views to song.

Alas, last week all that was undone. All illegal structures, including those put up by the "vets," were taken down. Here are the details of one such demolition, that of an illegal mansion built by nationally prominet war vet and singer Comrade Chinx"
Clearly pertubed by growing discontent within this radical and unpredictable group, the Zimbabwean government wary of the possibility that some of the veterans might still have ammunition from the liberation struggle which ended in 1980 is not taking any risks. Chief police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena announced that anyone with ammunition must immediately hand it over to the police signalling the depths of their fear that tensions due to the cleanup might finally spill over. The Herald (read: The Horrid), the state's mouthpiece reports that,
"POLICE yesterday urged people with automatic weapons at their homes to surrender them at the nearest police station.

These weapons include, self-loading weapons, G3 (all types), FN 7.62 mm rifles, UZI M.G and scorpion pistols.

Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena urged the public to co-operate and did not give the reasons of the withdrawal.

"We would like to urge the people to fully co-operate with the police and those who will remain with these weapons would be contravening the law," he said.

Harare police spokesperson Inspector Jessie Banda said the firearm licences for such weapons had been withdrawn with immediate effect.

"Police would like to advise members of the public that firearm licences of the following weapons, self loading weapons, G3, FN 7,62 mm rifles and scorpion pistols have since been revoked in terms of sub section (7) of Section (6) of the Firearms Act (Chapter) 10:09," she said.

"Possession of the above listed firearms is now unlawful. Members of the public are being urged to surrender these firearms to their nearest police stations by 30 June 2005. They will be issued with an issue voucher upon surrendering the firearm," said Insp Banda."
After dodging a bullet Friday when the African Union announced that it would not reprimand them, Mugabe & Co. now face their most daunting challenging yet; stifling revolt in such tense conditions.

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