Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO war veterans’ leaders have threatened to demonstrate against the Minister of Welfare Services for the War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa if he goes ahead with his planned visit to the city today. The freedom fighters described Cde Mutsvangwa as “a chairman for hire” who was being used by other forces to push their agenda. They said Cde Mutsvangwa must first go back to his home province, Mashonaland West, to be cleared after the province passed a vote of no confidence in him, before he comes to Bulawayo.
Mashonaland West province recently recommended Cde Mutsvangwa’s expulsion from Zanu PF following his utterances in the private media that were deemed as insulting to the First Family and undermining the authority of the President.
He is alleged to have said: “We’ll respect the institution of marriage and (Cde Saviour) Kasukuwere is confused and conflating the institution of marriage.”
War veterans in the city said the Minister, who is also the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association was scheduled to address a meeting at the war veterans’ provincial offices in Entumbane suburb today but he said last night that he will not attend.
Bulawayo War Veterans’ vice chairman Naison Mashasha said they were bona fide ex-combatants who were loyal to the President and followed the resolutions held at the war veterans Masvingo Congress last year. “We hear Mutsvangwa is coming here but our message to him is very clear. We don’t want to see him, he has to sort out things from his home province where they want to chase him away before coming here,” said Cde Mashasha.
He accused Cde Mutsvangwa of fanning divisions in the association by appointing an executive which they alleged worked with ousted leader Jabulani Sibanda.
“He came here and endorsed an illegal executive which used to work with Jabulani Sibanda. He isn’t following the association’s resolutions made in Masvingo. Last time he was here, he hired thugs whom he appointed to beat us up, we’re the bona fide war vets who fought for this country and are 100 percent behind the Presidium and Amai (the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe),” he said.
Cde Mashasha said they would stage demonstrations once Cde Mutsvangwa sets foot in Bulawayo to express their opposition to him and the alleged illegal executive he endorsed in the province.
The Cde Cephas Ncube-led executive is accused of having people loyal to the ousted Sibanda, dividing members in the province. “We’re not speaking in polite terms, we’ll demonstrate peacefully telling him what we want. Asimfuni lapha ko (we don’t want him here in) Bulawayo u Mutsvangwa, he has no place here,” said Cde Mashasha.
He said as genuine war veterans they were well versed in how structures worked emanating from their experiences during the liberation struggle, hence they only take orders from the party and not vice versa.
“We gave Mutsvangwa a letter telling him our grievances but what we got were assaults from his thugs most of whom are widows, war collaborators and children who weren’t part of the armed struggle. He must go to other provinces first,” said Cde Mashasha.
War veterans’ provincial secretary, Cde Mitsho Ndlovu, said Bulawayo would not endorse Cde Mutsvangwa. “Mutsvangwa is playing nicodemous, he’s coming to Bulawayo knowing very well that his province has passed a vote of no confidence. He’s seeking favours from the so-called war veterans to endorse him so that he gains favour from them,” he said.
Cde Mutsvangwa said in an interview last night that he was not coming to the Bulawayo meeting as he was just returning from the holiday, but other war veterans leaders would attend.
“I’m aware of the meeting but I just came back from the holiday. I’ll not be able to attend, my vice-chair and secretary general as well as the party leadership will address that meeting,” he said. He said the planned demonstrations were led by people who were “woefully ignorant” of party structures.
“Zanu-PF is led by President Mugabe and he has the prerogative to appoint Cabinet and Politburo not some errant junior members in Mash West. How does a junior in Mash West question the President’s decision to appoint the Cabinet and Politburo? These people are tendentious and woefully ignorant of the structures of Zanu PF,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
He said the planned demonstrations were illegal and organised by people with dubious liberation war records. He said he would not be distracted by the threats in conducting his duty which is to improve the welfare of war veterans.
“On whose authority will they demonstrate, as of now the Acting President is Cde Mphoko and they want to abuse his office? It’s sad that they’re abusing that office to do things that are unstructured. They’ve no respect for that office,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
“As the chairman I’ll not do anything not known by the patron of the war veterans who is President Mugabe who is war veteran number one. If they’re demonstrating ask them where they got that authority from as the President is out of the country.”