President Robert Mugabe, eager to purge dissenting voices in the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), has reached out to their leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, for him to step down together with his embattled executive.
Mugabe, angered by the defiant war veterans’ leaders over a stinging communiqué calling on him to step down, has despatched War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube to engage the Mutsvangwa-led ZNLWVA executive.
Yesterday, Dube told NewsDay that government was in a Catch-22 situation following a High Court ruling which barred Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene and her splinter group from claiming the ZNLWVA leadership.
Dube said as a result of Mugabe’s pressure, his ministry was engaging the former Norton MP and his team to persuade them to call for an extraordinary congress which would allow them to step down.
“We have no option, but to engage them and we are doing so. I have said it before that we will have to persuade Cde Mutsvangwa and his executive and given the court order, we are now bound to do that so that they can see the need for an early congress to elect a new leadership,” the minister said.
Mugabe last week said a new ZNLWVA leadership would soon be installed following the damning communiqué criticising his leadership, failure to stop the economic meltdown, corruption, dictatorship and widespread poverty, among several other issues.
Although Mugabe fired Mutsvangwa from both government and Zanu PF, Dube said the former minister remained a vital cog in the war veterans’ structure.
“There is no way we were going to deal with the war veterans’ leadership without involving Mutsvangwa and his executive,” Dube said.
“War veterans are an integral part of Zanu PF and its leaders have been expelled. The question is: How will the party interact with expelled members? Definitely it’s tricky to circumvent engaging the outgoing executive. We have already started to talk with them and I don’t see us failing to find each other.”
Asked what he would do if Mutsvangwa and his executive refused to give in, Dube said: “We will cross the bridge when we reach the river. For now, we are hopeful that they will graciously accept the persuasion and allow the association to move forward in the best interests of Zimbabwe and the war veterans at large.”
ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said the Mutsvangwa-led team was prepared to engage government as long as it sticks to the law and the constitution of the association.
“This has nothing to do with my personal feelings or whoever is in leadership; our position is that people must just stick to the law. Let all engagements be lawful and we have no problem with such discussions,” Mahiya said.
“When they come to us, we will direct them to both the national and the association’s constitutions and if they fail to meet the law requirements, it’s as simple as that. It will be the end of the road for whatever they want to do.”
The High Court interdicted Chimene, Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba, George Mlala, Charles Mpofu, Ester Munyaradzi, Stephen Moyo and Robert Mukwena from interfering with ZNLWVA activities.
The applicant in the matter said Chimene and her splinter group’s activities could cause civil strife in the country.
Mutsvangwa was recently expelled from Zanu PF after he ran afoul of Mugabe, while other members of the executive, who include his deputy Headman Moyo, secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, Mahiya and secretary for commissariat Francis Nhando, were victims of the fall-out that followed the release of a stinging statement last month calling on the 92-year-old Mugabe to resign to save the country from collapse.