HARARE - Defiant war veterans loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa are taking President Robert Mugabe head-on, vowing to stand by their ousted former leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was booted out of Zanu PF on Thursday.
At the same time, Zanu PF members who were either expelled or suspended from the former liberation movement on Thursday — and who are all linked to Mnangagwa — told the Daily News yesterday that their purging by the party’s politburo was a “factional nullity”.
A spokesperson of the bitterly-aggrieved war veterans, Douglas Mahiya, told the newspaper that while Mutsvangwa served in Cabinet at the pleasure of Mugabe, he had been elected the leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) by its members, and as such could not be removed from the position easily.
As a result, and in a move that puts them on a collision course with Mugabe, the war veterans would be pushing to meet with the nonagenarian next week, as had been originally planned, so that they could discuss their grievances with him in his capacity as their patron.
The tough-talking Mahiya said Mutsvangwa would for now remain their leader, adding that the decision to freeze the War Veterans’ minister out of the ruling party was “deplorable”.
“The chairman (Mutsvangwa) is not losing sleep because of the unjust, unprocedural and unfair suspension.
“He (Mugabe) promised to meet with us next week. When we meet with him, we expect our problems to be addressed,” Mahiya said.
Among some of their complaints, the war veterans accuse the government of failing to take care of their welfare and medical bills, as well as their children’s school fees — further accusing Zanu PF party’s bigwigs of grand corruption.
“We are also human beings . . . We wonder if this is still the same Zanu PF we know. Why are we being vilified? Why are we being abused like that?” Zvinorwadza (It’s painful),” Mahiya said.
He said war veterans would also fight to ensure that the country’s economy improved, and that it benefitted the majority of Zimbabweans.
“We can only be defeated because we can’t fight a giant who is well armed. But our spirit will not die,” the emotional Mahiya added.
His sentiments came as banished Mnangagwa supporters vowed to fight back and remain in Zanu PF “come rain or thunder”.
The Daily News also learnt yesterday that after suffering a savage beating at the hands of their party foes at Thursday’s politburo meeting, where Mutsvangwa and his wife were shown the exit door, Team Lacoste bigwigs congregated at a crisis meeting in Harare, to plot their comeback programme.
Although details of the meeting were sketchy last night, one of the camp’s alleged kingpins who was expelled from Zanu PF on Thursday — former Mashonaland Central youth league chairperson Godfrey Tsenengamu — told the newspaper that his firing was a “nullity”.
“Hapana, hapana (it’s a nullity),” he said angrily, adding that he would not be expelled from the party because it was, in any case, a voluntary organisation.
A war veteran linked to the camp, Batsirai Musona, said the party constitution was being violated willy-nilly, as “mere cell members are being arraigned before the national disciplinary committee”.
“Every party organ has a disciplinary committee starting from branch to national level and it is well spelt out on who should be brought before which disciplinary committee.
“We have a case of three former youth chairpersons, two of whom were officially suspended from the party by the same NDC and the third one was never accused of having violated any of the party rules and regulations except having been arraigned before the courts of law on cooked-up charges.
“Vengai Musengi and Godfrey Tsenengamu were booted out of the party without being given any chance to defend themselves in a well-constituted NDC which went on to recommend their suspensions in the politburo which seems to just rubber stamp the NDC’ s decisions,” the aggrieved Musona said.
He also savaged Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, accusing the Local Government minister of “single-handedly expelling a number of loyal party cadres for no apparent reason”.
“If one bothers to take a closer look at all these upheavals in the party, you find that there is one person who stands accused and that person is none other than the NPC (national political commissar) Kasukuwere, who has all the privilege of being the offended party, the arresting and investigation officer, the jury and the judge.
“He sits in all party organs, that is the NDC, politburo and central committee, and this gives him an edge over his perceived political opponents who would have crossed paths with him.
“Surprisingly, the NDC is now summoning cell members of the party to its court without recommendations from branch, district and provincial disciplinary committees.
“If this is not a violation of the party’s constitution what can it be? The party constitution must be first respected and allowed to operate for the benefit of every member of our party,” Musona added.
He also criticised Mugabe for praising Kasukuwere at the nonagenarian’s birthday bash in Masvingo last week, saying this had given the youthful minister the impression that he could do anything he wanted.
“It is no longer business as usual in the party because the destabilising forces are being praised for a job well done at every party function, instead of them being put to task for having destroyed the party from within.
“I was surprised in Masvingo when the president praised Kasukuwere for doing a sterling job when it is common cause to every loyal Zanu PF member that this self-confessed biggest political thug in Zanu PF has caused more harm than good to the party.
“He has brought the name of the party into serious disrepute,” Musona alleged.
In addition to suspending the garrulous Mutsvangwa and his wife Monica from the party for three years last Thursday, Zanu PF also summarily expelled from within its ranks 14 youth leaders — including Godfrey Gomwe, Tsenengamu, Vengai Musengi and Edmore Samambwa.
Addressing the media just after the politburo had met and dealt with scores of disciplinary cases that had been brought before it by the party’s NDC, spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo revealed that more than 20 officials had been banished from the former liberation movement.