'War vets leadership must step down'

HARARE - Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) must go for a fresh congress to elect a new leadership after the top guns in the association bagged plush jobs in government and the ruling party Zanu PF, analysts have said.

Following the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa was appointed special advisor to the president, the secretary-general for the association Victor Matemadanda was appointed as the secretary for war veterans in the politburo, while the association’s spokesperson Douglas Mahiya is now the political commissar for Zanu PF Harare province.

However, the Mutsvangwa-led association has a mandate running until the next congress due in 2019.

Analysts said the war veterans’ leadership must now step down because it cannot represent the war veterans against the government which they are part of.

“When they join the government they become compromised. But their plus is that they have been fearless under Mugabe regime,” political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa said.

“It depends with the interests being demanded. The best they can do is to push for an environment where people of different abodes can pursue peculiar interests without discrimination.

“The challenge is that one cannot be part of an interest group and be part of government at the same time. What will happen is a repeat of MDC during the GNU where it became acutely difficult for a party which was born out of workers’ movement to become the employer.

“The veterans will have too many demands which the government will not be able to fulfil.”

Another political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the association represents the ruling party interests.

“That whole association was a scandal and remains so. It only represented Zanu PF-affiliated war veterans.

“There are many other war veterans that have nothing to do with Zanu PF who are not represented in that partisan association.

“Even in that association, it represented mainly the interests of the eating few.

“So even if some of them are now in government, that association will never be capable of representing interests of genuine non-partisan war vets. It’s actually a Zanu PF wing than a war vets association,” he said.

However, Matemadanda said they are not in any way compromised because they are able to separate party business from the association.

“I don’t think our leadership is now compromised,” he said.

“We are still able to represent the war veterans because when we discuss war veterans’ issues, it is pure war veterans’ issues and not Zanu PF issues.

“We discuss party issues in Zanu PF meetings. The association is not aligned to any political party but individuals are allowed to join any political party whether it’s MDC, Zanu PF or any other political party.”

He added: “Zanu PF readmitted us but we remain freedom fighters. Our concerns as freedom fighters are the same whether you belong to Zanu PF or MDC — so the association is for all veterans.

“The fact that we are in Zanu PF doesn’t stop us from championing the concerns of war veterans.”