HARARE - As the post-congress Zanu PF battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe gets nastier and uglier, allies of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who together with him have been on the receiving end of unrelenting blows from their foes in the warring ruling party, are fighting back.
The secretary-general of the pro-Mnangagwa Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, told the Daily News yesterday that liberation struggle fighters were ready to .......
Matemadanda spoke in the wake of the recent ouster of War Veterans minister and ZNLWVA leader Christopher Mutsvangwa from the Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial co-ordinating committee, as well as growing talk of the imminent establishment of a rival war veterans body allegedly by Mnangagwa’s party enemies.
Well-placed sources have previously told the Daily News that the new war veterans’ body is to be known as the Zimbabwe War Veterans Heritage Trust (ZWVHT), and that it will in all likelihood be led by alleged G40 loyalists, Patrick Nyaruwata and Andy Mhlanga.
But the combative Matemadanda revealed yesterday that ZNLWVA provincial structures were moving with speed to flush out from within their ranks all the comrades who were linked to the ZWVHT.
“So far, we already have recommendations from Bulawayo and other provinces are finalising their lists. The provinces rightly think that they cannot continue to work with some of their colleagues that they seconded to the national executive because of their alleged counter-revolutionary activities that seek to illegally topple the association’s legitimate leadership.
“We are informed that these elements want to either form a splinter group or turn the existing one into their fiefdom, or one that plays to the tune of their masters.
“And just last week, their masters booked them at Rainbow Towers in Harare ahead of a meeting they had scheduled to discuss their plan, although it failed to take off after the war veterans’ leadership got wind of it,” Matemadanda charged.
Signalling that emotions could soon reach boiling point over the matter, as well as Zanu PF’s worsening succession wars, Matemadanda also urged his troops to “remain calm and patient and not allow ourselves to be pushed into doing the wrong things”.
The secretary-general of ZNLWVA’s Mashonaland East structure, Stanford Maguma, immediately vowed to “disown and flush out elements hell-bent on destabilising the association and its national leadership”.
“We know there are some members within the national executive who are causing confusion in the association, destabilising the leadership of the national chairman Comrade Christopher Mutsvangwa in the process.
“But we will resist any such attempts,” he said, adding that they were going to officially announce their position on a number of issues on Monday.
When Mutsvangwa was ousted from the Mashonaland West PCC, the province also recommended that the Norton legislator be recalled from Parliament, in addition to being expelled from the brawling ruling party.
The province had taken issue with Mutsvangwa’s alleged utterances to the media where he warned against comrades “conflating the institution of marriage and that of the State” — which his party foes said was a frontal assault on Mugabe and the same “in meaning and import as the outrageous ‘bedroom coup’ remarks that got Jabulani Sibanda expelled from the party”.
But veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, who are by and large rooting for Mnangagwa in Zanu PF’s brutal succession dogfights, immediately leapt out in defence of Mutsvangwa, with Matemadanda saying no-one outside the ZNLWVA’s membership could call for Mutsvangwa’s ouster.
“I am not sure if those who accuse him of whatever they are accusing him have the evidence against him. But from our perspective as war veterans, there is no one who is not one of us who can say Mutsvangwa has failed in his mandate and oust him,” he said.
He claimed that war veterans across the country were “highly-incensed” by the reports that suggested that Mutsvangwa was under the cosh within the ruling party.
“Comrades want to know what is happening to our leader because they believe he is the most industrious chairperson ever to lead them, and the evidence is there,” Matemadanda added.
He also expressed concern at the fact that there were “elements” in the ruling party who were allegedly choosing to disregard Mugabe after the president spoke strongly against party members resorting to vindictive ways of resolving conflicts in Zanu PF at the party’s Victoria Falls conference last December.
“We are war veterans and not necessarily Zanu PF, and we get disturbed when after the president had seemingly managed to handle the issues that were considered hot at the conference, and it ended without incident with him calling for unity and discouraging unnecessary votes of no confidence in the party, we still have some elements defying him and suspending officials who are above their level,” he said.
Mutsvangwa’s banishment from Mashonaland West came after Mugabe had launched a scathing attack on boastful war veterans, a thinly-disguised assault that was said to be directed at the War veterans minister.
“Vamwe vanoti handibviswe. Unobviswa, teerera zvinotaurwa nevamwe (Some say they are untouchable and can’t be removed from their positions.
“They can be removed and should listen to what others say). This is a people’s party, it’s not your party.
“Zvekuti ini ndiri ngana ndakaenda kuhondo iwe hauna kuenda kuhondo, nonsense! (there are those that discriminate others based on war credentials. That is nonsense). We should not hear that at all from anyone,” Mugabe charged.
Previously, war veterans have also said Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks, known as the Generation 40 (G40), are behind the anarchy bedevilling the ruling party.
Matemadanda told the Daily News late last year that the G40 were “definitely” fighting to destroy Mnangagwa, by setting him up against Mugabe’s influential wife Grace.
“I don’t know why they are attacking Mnangagwa, quiet as he is. He has not talked to anyone, yet they attack him day in and day out, with some even producing party regalia, publishing pamphlets and alleging that these are Mnangagwa’s,” he said.
The clearly-pained Matemadanda also admitted that the battle to succeed Mugabe had now reached “fever-pitch”, with many people in the ruling party dreaming about taking over from the increasingly frail nonagenarian.
“They want to set him (Mnangagwa) up against the First Lady, but he has not said anything about her and she has also not said a word against the VP.
“People are dreaming too high and think that they can just come from nowhere and be president. It does not happen like that. You have to wait for those that are there and support them,” he added.