Treason must be the most loosely applied legal charge in Africa.
It should refer to the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government but any opposition at all to a seating government seems to warrant that charge.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Zimbabwe’s defense minister, Sydney Skeremayi, has condemned as “treasonous” a statement issued by war veterans last week the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.
In the statement being referred to, the war veterans had withdrawn their support for President Robert Mugabe.
A part of the statement had read;
“We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle,”
The purpose of the statement by the war veterans was to have it out in the open that they, the deeply divided Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, would not be backing President Mugabe in the next election.
Their statement accused the president of corruption, referred to his leadership as riddled with dictatorial tendencies and egocentrism and went as far as to call it bankrupt.
Zimbabwe’s defense minister, therefore, in replying to the characterization of the President encapsulated in that statement, has said that the statement appeared to be the work of a “fifth column”.
A fifth column is a group which undermines an organisation from within. The defence minister said that a document of that nature, which he described as treacherous, is not just written without people converging and agreeing on points to make.
He also said that there is “no war veteran who would be so disparaging of the president of the party and the country. It’s impossible.”
To that end, the newspaper reported that the government was carrying out an investigation to establish who was behind the statement.