Lloyd Gumbo and Nyemudzai Kakore
Attempts by a faction of the war veterans led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandiitawepi Chimene to derail preparations for the meeting between President Mugabe and war veterans in a fortnight’s time will not succeed, a Zanu-PF Politburo member said yesterday.
Zanu-PF Secretary for War Veterans, Detainees, Restrictees and their Welfare and Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi said nothing would stop the meeting of war veterans and their patron, President Mugabe.
He said this in response to a Press conference by Cde George Mlala in Harare yesterday where he said they were not happy with the presence of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association national chairperson Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa and his entire executive at a preparatory meeting held on Wednesday.
The High Court last month barred Cde Chimene from masquerading as the interim chairperson of the war veterans after claiming to have passed a vote of no confidence in Cde Mutsvangwa.
However, she is on record as saying she would defy the ruling.
Cde Mlala, who said he represented Cde Chimene, also distributed a letter that he purportedly wrote to Cde Sekeramayi indicating they were also not happy with the presence of security chiefs at Wednesday’s meeting.
“First, I did not receive any letter from them and our assignment from President Mugabe was very straight forward that we should invite war veterans and advise them that their meeting will be there on April 7,” said Cde Sekeramayi.
“Secondly, we were not there to deal with individuals. The meeting is going ahead as planned. The generals are as authentic war veterans as everyone who attended.
“You can’t exclude serving members of the security forces. How do you say commanders who are war veterans who are there on merit should be excluded from a meeting of war veterans that deals with the welfare of war veterans?
“Anyone who has the welfare of war veterans at heart must be welcoming the meeting instead of what they are trying to do.”
Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees permanent secretary Brigadier-General (Retired) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi said they would not be distracted from preparing for the meeting.
“Yesterday (Wednesday)’s meeting was purely technical and administrative where we were dealing with issues to do with conduct, content and expected outcomes from the meeting with the President.
“It had nothing to do with politics or squabbles of any kind. The service chiefs who attended the meeting are war veterans. In fact, everyone who was in the meeting participated including those who issued that statement.
“We will not be distracted from proceeding with preparations for the meeting of war veterans and their patron whether some people want to exclude themselves or not.
“Cde Sekeramayi and the other ministers who attended the meeting had a full mandate from the President to steer the meeting. So we are on course in preparing for the meeting,” said Brig-Gen (Rtd) Tapfumaneyi.
In the letter that was purportedly written to Minister Sekeramayi and copied to Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi and Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees Minister Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, Cde Malala said they were not happy with a number of issues about the Wednesday meeting.
He said their major concerns were the inclusion of Cde Mutsvangwa and service chiefs in the meeting.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Dr Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda and Commissioner-General of Police Dr Augustine Chihuri attended the meeting.
Also present were Central Intelligence Organisation Deputy Director-General Aaron Daniel Tonde Nhepera, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner-General Fadzai Mupfure who represented their bosses, Retired Major-Generals Paradzai Zimondi and Happyton Bonyongwe respectively.
Cde Malala said the suspension of Cde Mutsvangwa from the Politburo and his demotion from Cabinet were reasons enough to show that he was not welcome in Zanu-PF.
“That to us is a serious threat to the affairs of war veterans,” said Cde Mlala. “We do not accept to work with Mutsvangwa anymore. We made our decision and it’s final.
Cde Mlala added: “You agreed to include top-ranked serving uniformed senior officers led by General C. Chiwenga, Commander Defence Forces ,being a plot to intimidate and coerce us into approving Christopher Mutsvangwa back to the position of chairman against a vote of no confidence which was made on 13th February 2016.”
Cde Mlala said they would boycott future meetings where Cde Mutsvangwa attended adding that “any new threats and impositions dictated by serving uniformed comrades shall be resisted”.
Cde Mlala said they protested the inclusion of Cde Mutsvangwa in the meeting as chairman but “the ministerial committee insisted that he attends the meeting as the chairman”.
Cde Mutsvangwa yesterday said: “You can talk to Minister Sekeramayi because he is the President’s point man on this one.
“But as chairman of the association, we are not bothered by truancy of one or two errant executive members. In any event, we are already feverishly busy prelating for the war veterans summit of April 7.
“The issue of the perennial and long overlooked welfare of our members for almost four decades into independence is too vital for the late maturity childish tantrums of an ill-fated splittist misadventure.”
Minister Dube is on record as saying it was in the best interests of war veterans to unite so that their welfare issues can be addressed holistically.