HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has turned its guns on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bastion of support by pushing for the dissolution of Christopher Mutsvangwa’s Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva)’s executive though an extraordinary congress to be held soon, the Daily News can report.
Through the extraordinary congress, the ruling party is hoping to coerce the Znlwva membership into serving divorce papers on Mutsvangwa and his executive that has become a thorn in the flesh for Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
The Daily News can report that at the party’s politburo meeting on Wednesday, it was felt that the association should go for an extraordinary congress to end the frosty relations between Zanu PF and Znlwva.
The explosive meeting held at the party’s national headquarters in Harare tasked War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube to set in motion preparations for the elective congress.
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi initiated the discussions in his capacity as secretary for war veterans in the party’s Soviet-style politburo.
As Defence minister, Sekeramayi has an oversight over the War Veterans’ ministry.
Dube told the Daily News yesterday that he was in agreement with the proposal by Sekeramayi because the divisions among the ex-combatants have become counterproductive.
“We are thinking of an early congress because we are having so many problems and the only way we can solve these problems is to have elections,” said Dube.
“We have splinter groups that have caused so much havoc. These people claim that they are part of the war veterans, so we should go back to the drawing table and solve the problem once and for all,” he added.
Mutsvangwa’s executive has had frosty relations with Mugabe since June 2016 when the ex-liberation war fighters issued a stinging communiqué that accused the Zanu PF leader, who was their patron at the time, of reneging on the ideals of the county’s liberation struggle.
The war veterans alleged Mugabe was now a captive of the Generation 40 (G40) faction, made up of party cadres that lack liberation war credentials.
G40 is engaged in a brutal war for control of the ruling party against the rival Team Lacoste faction, which is campaigning for a Mnangagwa presidency in the post-Mugabe era.
Mutsvangwa and his executive have thrown in their lot with the vice president, whose sympathisers are being purged for going against the one-centre-of-power principle enforced at the party’s 2014 congress.
Because of the frosty relations between Mugabe and the Znlwva leadership, most of the current executive members, including Mutsvangwa, were thrown out of Zanu PF for undermining the authority of the president whose title of patron for the association was revoked following the fallout.
What has followed their expulsion has been an intense battle to control the association, which has been a vital cog in Zanu PF’s election campaign machinery.
A group of former guerrilla war fighters led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene passed a vote of no confidence in Mutsvangwa’s leadership early last year but that move hit a brick wall after the former deputy Foreign Affairs minister rushed to the courts to forestall the bloodless coup.
In February 2016, the High Court ruled that Mutsvangwa’s executive was the legitimate Znlwva leadership, and barred Chimene and his group from masquerading as the interim or substantive executive of the association.
Chimene was also interdicted from issuing press statements on behalf of the Znlwva.
Having failed to dethrone Mutsvangwa’s executive since their fallout, Zanu PF has gone back to its tried and tested plan used to get rid of the Jabulani Sibanda executive in 2014.
The garrulous former freedom fighters who have been accused of rooting for Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe alleged yesterday that Sekeramayi, who is being touted as a possible dark horse in the succession race, arm-twisted Dube to call for an early congress in a bid to replace the current ZNLWVA executive.
A fuming Mutsvangwa said Sekeramayi has no role to play in a voluntary organisation that has no obligation to kowtow to the ruling party of the day.
“All private voluntary organisations (PVOs) in Zimbabwe operate under the aegis of the Constitution of the republic. ZNLWA is one such fully registered PVO. Its sound statutory foundation has been underpinned by a High Court judgment in its favour against the encroachments of both … Chimene and George Mlala,” Mutsvangwa said.
Mutsvangwa accused Sekeramayi of pushing for the dissolution of the whole leadership so as to replace it with “men and women” who will respect Mugabe and do his bidding.
“Throwing legal strictures to the wind, Sekeramayi, the G40 aspirant to the presidency, harangued the Zanu PF politburo yesterday (Wednesday) so it prevails upon Dube to go and denounce ZNLWVA at the presidential interface rally in Mashonaland Central,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Dube is a pioneer of the armed struggle from the nascent 1960s. He has seen it all while Sekeramayi wondered in Western countries as an itinerant student who never made it to be a qualified doctor . . . a situation that still obtains with him today unlike the late Dr Felix Muchemwa who obtained his credentials from the relevant national professional body.
“Zanu PF, another private club, has neither constitutional nor legal writ on ZNLWVA under the laws of the land. We condemn Sekeramayi’s effort to soil such an illustrious revolutionary tradition as (Tshinga) Dube’s.
“A presidential aspirant needs to start by respecting the constitutional order. If he decides to go the route of dictatorial tendencies, he should journey alone and not drag . . . Dube in tow.
“Sekeramayi should do well by emulating Mugabe who in the heyday of his long rule strove to firmly anchor constitutionalism and legality in the national ethos of government. Along the way, Mugabe earned regional, pan-African and global plaudits and raised the national flag high,” Mutsvangwa said.
Efforts to obtain comment from Sekeramayi were fruitless yesterday as his mobile was ringing unanswered, and he did not respond to questions sent to his phone.
Mutsvangwa and his team were elected at the helm of Znlwva in November 2014 following the expulsion of Sibanda from Zanu PF a month earlier.
Sibanda was given his marching orders for being too close to former vice president Joice Mujuru who was stampeded out of the ruling party for allegedly plotting to unseat Mugabe using unconstitutional means.
Mutsvangwa’s election was presided over by officials from the military, who included ministry of Defence director (War Veterans) major-general (Retired) Richard Ruwodo and Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) inspector-general major-general Engelbert Rugeje, who was the presiding officer.
In his opening remarks, Rugeje, who spoke on behalf of ZDF commander-general Constantino Chiwenga, said Sibanda’s executive operated unconstitutionally for 11 years.
“The last congress for war veterans was held in 2003 in Mutare and I do not know exactly how many years the executive that was elected at that congress was supposed to stay in office.
“But let us say they were supposed to stay in office for a maximum of five years. This means another congress was supposed to be held in 2008 latest, but it was never held.’’
Rugeje said war veterans were supposed to protect the office of Mugabe.
“As war veterans, we are the bulwark that is supposed to protect the office of the President. If we fail to protect the integrity of the office of the President, that will be tantamount to treason.
“We should never again allow leaders like . . . Sibanda to be at the helm of the war veterans’ association. A war veterans’ leader should be a straightforward person without a chequered history.’’ – Daily News