Mashudu Netsianda Senior Reporter—
EMBATTLED war veterans chairman Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa has gone rogue and wants to turn former freedom fighters against Zanu-PF, Women’s League deputy secretary Cde Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo said yesterday. She spoke after Cde Mutsvangwa – who was suspended from the party for three years before he was also demoted from Cabinet – invited the excommunicated former war veterans chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, to speak to liberation war fighters in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Cde Moyo also took a swipe at Senator Angeline Masuku, who also attended the meeting, for living under the mistaken belief that she was the most senior female leader from the former Zapu.
Cde Moyo, who deputises First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe in the Women’s League, said while war veterans have a right to hold sanctioned meetings, sharing a stage with an opposition party member was disturbing.
She told The Chronicle in an interview yesterday: “If Zanu-PF reaches a position, we expect everyone including war veterans to be guided by such a resolution, but it appears there are some people who’re defying the party.
“It seems Jabulani Sibanda was included in the Entumbane meeting to sway war veterans to join Zimbabwe People First [led by Joice Mujuru, who was expelled from Zanu-PF]. It becomes a problem when you start associating with people who’re in the opposition.
“War vets have a right to conduct their meetings with their leaders, but what’s actually disturbing is that their leader had not formally informed us that he had left Zanu-PF because I believe when you start teaming up with a person who has been expelled from the party, it gives us a different picture altogether.”
Cde Moyo said those who attended the meeting acted in defiance of the party rules.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a war veteran, as long as you’re a Zanu-PF member you’ve breached the rules of the party, you’re defying party directions and we can’t stand by and watch as people are doing such things.
“Those people should come out in the open so that we know exactly who they really are because we don’t want people coming to our meetings playing two roles, one for Zanu and the other for the opposition.”
Cde Moyo, who is also the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs, lashed out at Cde Mutsvangwa for failing to address the welfare issues of war veterans during his stint as the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, a position from which he was sacked last week by President Mugabe and replaced with Cde Tshinga Dube.
Cde Mutsvangwa was found guilty of undermining the authority of President Mugabe and insulting the First Family – the same reasons that led to the expulsion of Sibanda from the party in 2014.
“Someone has been in that ministerial position since 2013 and making empty promises and even up to now he’s still going around making empty promises talking about buses and hospitals. When will they be available? You promise things that are non-existent just because you want to use them (war veterans),” said Cde Moyo.
She also implored the newly appointed War Veterans Minister Cde Tshinga Dube to conduct a vetting exercise, suggesting that some people were masquerading as war veterans. “It seems anyone who is disgruntled has a tendency of resorting to war veterans or move to take a position with war collaborators or ex-detainees. These people start insulting people and creating confusion.”
Echoing President Mugabe who last week said Zanu-PF would not hesitate to “chuck out” any officials who refuse to toe the party line as the party had “no shortage of members”, Cde Moyo said: “Some of us will remain in Zanu-PF and those who want to leave the party are free to do so. If you choose a thorny path you’ll be prickled.”
Cde Moyo said most of the people who attend the meeting in Entumbane were not genuine war veterans. She explained: “You can’t group ex-detainees and war collaborators together and claim they’re war veterans. I’m very much aware some of those who attended the meeting are ex-detainees and war collaborators.
“What are you telling those poor people? Some of these people are so young and they’re even younger than independence, but you’ll be shocked that they claim to be war vets, ex-detainees and war collaborators.”
Cde Moyo also revealed she was bewildered by War Veterans Association secretary Cde Victor Matemadanda’s sentiments when he claimed that Cde Masuku was in a “difficult situation” just because she was a senior ex-Zapu official.
A resolution by the Women’s League demanding that at least one of the Vice Presidents should be a woman has sparked speculation that a former Zapu leader will be chosen. Cde Moyo says Cde Masuku appears to be under the mistaken impression that she deserves the nomination on the basis that she is the most senior surviving ex-Zapu leader.
Cde Moyo says that belief is not true, and in any case the female Vice President would be nominated on merit. “As one of the leaders in Bulawayo, what really troubled me and still troubles me is that while Cde Matemadanda was addressing Cde Masuku – who was also there sharing a stage with them – he said he knows that she was caught up in cross-fire because of the Women’s League resolution over Vice Presidency.
She explained: “I’m actually the one who read that resolution at the Zanu-PF conference and the way I understand it is that when the time comes [for a woman to assume the Vice Presidency] any women will be free to be appointed VP. “It’s folly for anyone to fight over a non-existing issue. There’s no way that we need to discuss about that because in the first place it’s the President who appoints.”
Cde Moyo said there are many women who qualify for the VP position from which President Mugabe would appoint when the right time comes. “The issue of seniority keeps cropping up with some sections of the media claiming that Cde Masuku is the most senior woman in the party although she hasn’t said it herself, and even Mademadanda who wasn’t in Zipra or Zapu keeps saying so, and you wonder where they get their stories from,” she said.
Cde Moyo said the most senior female ex-Zapu leader is Cde Jane Ngwenya who actually championed the struggle before other women joined the liberation struggle.
“We’re all junior to her including Cde Masuku. We never told the President as the Women’s League that we need someone senior for the VP post, but only a meriting woman will be appointed. It’s a woman’s position which has nothing to do with whether you’re from the Zapu or Zanu side,” she said.
Cde Moyo also queried why Cde Mutsvangwa chose Bulawayo as the venue for his meeting. “What’s their aim of calling the meeting in Bulawayo and what happened to Harare? It seems everyone who wants to start their naughty work comes to Bulawayo,” Cde Moyo said.
“All the opposition parties come to Bulawayo to launch their parties. It must have been done intentionally because Bulawayo people are considered to be vulnerable and gullible.”
Sibanda used the invitation by Cde Mutsvangwa to urge war veterans to decouple themselves from Zanu-PF but consider other groups with the same ideology. “Lobengula didn’t have a party, Nehanda didn’t have a party but they were people defending their people,” he said.
Various speakers from the association chanted “down with G40’’ — in apparent reference to a purported Zanu-PF faction — with Cde Matemadanda criticising the Zanu-PF Politburo saying it has become a “disciplinary Politburo” and attacking Zanu-PF Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere over the expulsion of party members claiming Zanu-PF has become a “party for firing not hiring”.
Cde Mutsvangwa has used interviews with hostile newspapers to claim he is happy to be out of government. He compared President Mugabe to a frog in a bathtub, claiming Zanu-PF officials out to destroy him were slowly releasing water into the tub and in time they would release hot water which would kill the frog.