ZIMBABWE National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairperson Cde Jabulani Sibanda has come under fire from fellow comrades who accused him of faking allegiance to President Mugabe after he failed to attend even one of First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe’s highly subscribed 10 “Meet the People” rallies countrywide.
Cde Sibanda was conspicuous by his absence even from the three rallies held in Matabeleland North, South and Bulawayo provinces.
He told our Harare Bureau yesterday that he had his Zim-Asset programmes in universities and colleges that were running parallel with the First Lady’s rallies. Ironically the First Lady was quite scathing on the programmes that saw some party officials claim to be explaining Zim-Asset in the provinces to mask their factional activities.
Cde Sibanda said he had his programme in universities and colleges known as the African Liberation Identity and Indigenisation in the Zimbabwean context which he rolled out before the First Lady’s rallies.
He said other programmes in the country should not stop because the First Lady is having rallies.
“Did you hear the First Lady complaining about my absence at her rallies? I was busy doing my programmes in colleges and universities and these are also party programmes. With this programme I’ve to follow the calendar of the colleges as and when they’re free with their students.”
Cde Sibanda said he did not even attend President Mugabe’s rallies during last year’s harmonised elections and queried why it was now an issue.
He said the party was aware of what he was doing, adding that his programmes complemented party programmes.
War veterans who spoke to our Harare Bureau yesterday rapped Cde Sibanda saying his behaviour smacked of appalling hypocrisy.
Former ZNLWVA national chairman Cde Patrick Nyaruwata said they were disappointed by the uncouth behaviour displayed by Cde Sibanda and would be seized with the matter.
“You can’t say I love the husband and not the wife,” he said.
“The wife of the President cannot be separated from the President. As war veterans we were supposed to be with the First Lady. We don’t expect such behaviour towards the First Lady because the President is our patron.
“We’re expected to be seen supporting programmes of the First Family. The training that we got during the liberation war is that we should respect our leaders.”
Cde Nyaruwata said he was a senior liberation war fighter and would not tolerate such behaviour.
“We’re senior war veterans and don’t expect youngsters to behave like that,” he said.
“As war veterans we’re very disappointed about that.”
Outspoken war veteran and Buhera South legislator Cde Joseph Chinotimba said it was unheard of that a chairman of ZNLWVA could afford not to attend such meetings without even giving reasons.
“That never happened during my tenure,” he said.
“He (Cde Sibanda) is moving around talking rubbish instead of advancing the cause of war veterans. He’s known for commenting on anything about President Mugabe and Zanu-PF and now I can’t even comprehend why he’s this quiet.”
Cde Chinotimba said it was unfortunate that of all the organisations affiliated to Zanu-PF, it was only the ZNLWVA that had not publicly endorsed the First Lady.
He said Cde Sibanda was pushing for the formation of the War Veterans League — an equivalent of the Zanu-PF Women and Youth Leagues yet he was not respecting the leaders of the party.
“Amai Mugabe is our mother and now I hear some people are saying that they were angered by her speech but I say she’s our mother and we should not challenge her.
“If you were doing what she said then you’ve to stop it forthwith and I must say as war veterans we’re fully behind Amai Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators’ Association chairperson Cde Pupurai Togarepi whose organisation came up with initiative to elevate the First Lady said one person cannot sway the thinking of all the freedom fighters and the party.
“We’re not concerned with one person,” he said.
“If there’s any freedom fighter that’s not happy with our decision, that person can’t change the direction of the revolution.”
Cde Togarepi said he could not speak on behalf of Cde Sibanda, adding that he might have his reasons for failing to attend the First Lady’s rallies.
The Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees’ Association (Zeppdra) chairman Cde Panganai Kuretu said he could not speak on behalf of another organisation.
“I can’t comment on that,” he said. “I can’t speak on behalf of another organisation.”
Other speakers who spoke to our Harare Bureau said Cde Sibanda had even failed to step up to the plate when the principles he claimed to espouse as war veterans leader were being trashed by some Zanu-PF leaders leaving Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa to intervene where a war veterans leader should have.