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23:10, 19 March 2018 Monday
Update: 17:12, 25 November 2017 Saturday

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Zimbabwe war veterans at heart of Mugabe's downfall
Zimbabwe war veterans at heart of Mugabe's downfall

Mugabe's reign was built on support from three pillars -- ZANU-PF party, the military and the war veterans -- and their hardening stance against him in recent years was a bellwether of his downfall on Tuesday.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Once Robert Mugabe's fiercest supporters, independence war veterans played a key role in ousting him,proving they still wield influence in Zimbabwe which only threw off colonial rule in 1980.

Last weekend, after the army took control, the war veterans rallied tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans to join street protests against Mugabe in a sudden outpouring of public will.

"Our relationship with Mugabe had irretrievably broken down," Victor Matemadanda, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association, told AFP.

"We entered into a marriage, then problems started and we opted out."

War veterans' leader Christopher Mutsvangwa led the hardening rhetoric against Mugabe, threatening to march on his private residence.

Just before the president stepped down, Mutsvangwa called further street protests, telling him "Smell the coffee. Your time is up.".

The war veterans now have their favoured candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa as president, and he was careful to mention them in his inauguration speech on Friday.


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