Zimbabwe arrests war veterans leaders After Criticism of Mugabe

Zimbabwean police arrested the secretary-general and the spokesman of the main association of veterans of the southern African nation’s independence war after the group criticized President Robert Mugabe last week and said its members wouldn’t support him in elections in 2018.

The arrests of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Secretary-General Victor Matemadanda and spokesman Douglas Mahiya were made after Mugabe, 92, vowed to punish “severely” those who published a statement by the war veterans that described him as “a leader who has presided over untold suffering of the general population for his own personal aggrandizement.”

“Police have taken in Matemadanda for questioning over the communique and statements made by the war veterans last week and it’s investigations are under way,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said Thursday by phone from Harare, the capital. She earlier confirmed Mahiya’s detention.

The war veterans association has long been a strong supporter of Mugabe. Opposition to his government has swelled as the nation faces an unprecedented liquidity crisis that’s led to civil servants, including the military, receiving salaries late and some private-sector workers getting goods instead of their wages. That sparked a national strike on July 6 that shut down much of Zimbabwe. The country was also hit by riots as taxi operators protested against what they said was police harassment.