MASHONALAND Central Provincial Affairs Minister Martin Dinha recently made an interesting suggestion that rebellious 1970s liberation war fighters must be captured, stripped and taken to army barracks where they would be thoroughly beaten as punishment for opposing President Robert Mugabe.
Although Dinha has since told the Financial Gazette that what he said during a recent field day held at Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre in Mt Darwin was said in jest, the suggestion has stirred a hornet’s nest in the already disgruntled veterans’ camp.
Dinha’s remarks coincided with a meeting of the war veterans called by the Chris Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) last month. When the war veterans met at Harare’s City Sports Centre they took turns to lampoon the current ZANU-PF leadership.
ZNLWVA’s senior leadership was expelled from the ruling party in July last year and responded to their expulsion by removing President Mugabe from the position of the association’s patron.
“People here (Mashonaland Central) support ZANU-PF and President Mugabe, they are not like rogue war veterans and some youths who are moving around attacking the President and the First Lady,” said Dinha in an audio clip in possession of this publication.
“They should all be rounded up and taken to army barracks where they should be stripped and beaten thoroughly until they repent. We cannot tolerate the level of indiscipline that they have exhibited,” he is further heard saying, drawing applauses from some people present at the meeting.
“We have senior military people here, I think they are listening. I can even volunteer to do some of the beating if they require my services,” Dinha added.
Contacted for comment, Dinha, who claims to have received death threats over unspecified “crimes”, had this to say: “You should not take that seriously, it was a light-hearted talk meant to captivate the crowd.”
Dinha’s remarks drew sharp rebukes from the war veterans who dismissed him as a “bootlicker”.
“How does an advocate talk of thorough beating?” queried ZNLWVA secretary general, Victor Matemadanda.
Dinha is a lawyer by profession.
“What a shame! We normally don’t give such nonentities any space in a serious revolution because you give them relevance, anozofamba achiti Matemadanda anondiziva (lest he starts bragging that Matemadanda knows me),” added Matemadanda.