ZIMBABWE National Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson Cde Jabulani Sibanda has come under fire from fellow war veterans who accused him of faking allegiance to President Mugabe after he failed to attend even one of First Lady Amai 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 The Herald 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 have to follow the calendar of the colleges as and when they are 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 The Herald 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 cannot 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 do not expect such behaviour towards the First Lady because the President is our patron.
“We are 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.”
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Cde Nyaruwata said he was a senior liberation war fighter and would not tolerate such behaviour.
“We are senior war veterans and do not expect youngsters to behave like that,” he said.
“As war veterans we are very disappointed about that.”
Outspoken war veteran and Buhera South legislator Cde Joseph Chinotimba said it was unheard of that a chairman of ZNLWA 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 is known for commenting on anything about President Mugabe and Zanu-PF and now I cannot even comprehend why he is this quiet.”
Cde Chinotimba said it was unfortunate that of all the organisations affiliated to Zanu-PF, it was only the ZNLWA that had not publicly endorsed Amai Mugabe.
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 is our mother and we should not challenge her.
“If you were doing what she said then you have to stop it forthwith and I must say as war veterans we are fully behind Amai Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association chairperson Cde Pupurai Togarepi whose organisation came up with initiative to elevate Amai Mugabe said one person cannot sway the thinking of all the freedom fighters and the party.
“We are not concerned with one person,” he said.
“If there is any freedom fighter that is not happy with our decision, that person cannot 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 cannot comment on that,” he said. “I cannot speak on behalf of another organisation.”
Other speakers who spoke to The Herald 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.