This comes as there are widening fissures in the former liberation movement, which was split in the middle during the last years in office of the country’s late ex-president Robert Mugabe – who was unexpectedly toppled from power by a stunning and popular military coup in November 2017.
The launch of the war veterans’ league follows the resolutions that were made at Zanu-PF’s December 2019 annual conference, which moved to adopt the ex-combatants’ wing as an integral organ of the party.
Enquiries by the Daily News yesterday showed that the war veterans’ wing is widely seen as crucial in the ruling party’s problematic succession matrix.
Now, a tag team made up of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) and war collaborators is accusing the under-fire Mahiya of “unilaterally” launching the wing without further consultations with key stakeholders.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, secretary-general Victor Matemadanda
This comes after Mahiya launched the Mashonaland Central war veterans’ wing last month, where he presided over appointments into the body – allegedly without consulting his colleagues.
“We are extremely surprised to note that Mahiya decided to rush to launch the league even before the party’s constitution has been amended to accommodate that … and without consulting veterans of the liberation struggle.
“The league formation was just rushed through the politburo, central committee and (2019 Zanu-PF) conference (in Goromonzi) without consulting stakeholders.
“Provinces were expecting Mahiya to come to them to explain and update them on the modalities of conference resolutions on the league,” agitated war veterans’ chairpersons drawn from the country’s 10 provinces said yesterday.
“Ever since the period of the conference, Mahiya has not addressed veterans of the liberation struggle in any of the 10 provinces, yet he rushes to launch the league.
“One wonders whose interests he is serving, also given the calibre of the people pushing him.
“The war veterans demanded the party to reverse the appointments which were made during the (Mashonaland Central) meeting,” the chairpersons said further.
“The party procedures are that such occasions are handled by the commissariat department. The absence of the commissariat department on such a crucial occasion raises a lot of questions,” they added.
ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda – who doubles up as Zanu-PF national political commissar – confirmed that the party’s commissariat department was responsible for managing such exercises.
“I don’t know who organised that meeting because the issue of party structures is under the commissariat department and we should have known that there is a meeting to launch the war veterans’ league.
“I don’t know what really happened. Maybe he (Mahiya) has a special permission to do that,” the guarded Matemadanda told the Daily News yesterday.
On his part, the vice chairperson of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators (Ziliwaco), Josephine Gandiya, accused Mahiya of allegedly disrespecting President Emmerson Mnangagwa by not following the ruling party’s procedures in the establishment of the former freedom fighters league.
“Mahiya was told by the president when we met him last year that he must work with all associations. We are surprised to hear that he has launched the league in Mashonaland Central without consulting anyone.
“We have nothing to do with Mahiya’s purported launch. He is forming his own league which has nothing to do with the real war veterans.
“Mahiya is working against the president. As an association, our duty is to second people who are going to be part of the war veterans’ league.
“In our view, the league has not been launched. We totally dismiss what Mahiya did,” Gandiya told the Daily News yesterday.
Contacted for his view, Mahiya refused to comment. However, he got backing from Zanu-PF secretary for administration – Obert Mpofu – who hailed him for having launched the war veterans’ wing in Mashonaland Central.
“I also want to acknowledge the strides taken by the secretary of war veterans wing comrade Mahiya – in conjunction with the Mashonaland Central politburo members, central committee members and honourable ministers from that province – for the restructuring of the war veterans committee at the historic Atlanta farm in Muzarabani, of which (Richard) Chirongwe was appointed as the interim chairperson,” Mpofu said.
During Mugabe’s last few years in power, Mnangagwa was involved in a hammer and tongs war with the Generation 40 (G40) faction which had coalesced around the nonagenarian’s erratic wife Grace.
The vicious brawling took a nasty turn when Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his rivals during one of Mugabe’s highly-divisive youth interface rallies in Gwanda in 2017.
Mnangagwa’s fate was eventually sealed on November 6, 2017 when Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant a few days after the then VP’s allies had booed the irascible Grace during a tense rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
However, tables were dramatically turned on Mugabe when the military rolled in their tanks on November 15 of that year and deposed the long-ruling geriatric from power – which saw a number of alleged G40 kingpins fleeing into self-imposed exile soon afterwards.
But despite Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, some ambitious bigwigs in the former liberation movement continue to stand accused of plotting to unseat the new Zanu-PF leader.
This comes as political analysts have said a proposed new law which seeks to empower Mnangagwa to handpick his deputies could see him deciding who takes over after him, both as Zanu-PF’s and the country’s new leader.
Parliament has just held public hearings across the country, ahead of Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Bill being debated in the august House – where it is expected to sail through as Zanu-PF enjoys a super majority.
At the same time, critics say the Bill – which seeks to introduce at least 27 amendments to the Constitution, including dropping the presidential election running mate clause – is retrogressive.
The running mate clause was supposed to become operational from the fast-approaching 2023 general elections, which Mnangagwa has already indicated he will participate in.
The Bill also intends to amend the country’s supreme law to give Mnangagwa the power to appoint the prosecutor-general, extend the terms of retiring judges, increase the women’s quota in Parliament by 10 years, create a youth quota in the National Assembly, and appoint more non-constituency ministers, among other things.