Felex Share Senior Reporter
Only war veterans have the right to remove or retain their chairperson, Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa, the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, has said.
He said he had no power to remove Cde Mutsvangwa as the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) — which Cde Mutsvangwa leads — was an affiliate of Zanu-PF.
This follows media reports attributed to Rtd Col Dube that Cde Mutsvangwa was no longer the chairperson of the war veterans after being suspended from Zanu-PF for three years and removed from Government last week.
He was also quoted as saying that the freedom fighters should immediately convene a meeting to elect a new leadership.
Cde Mutsvangwa was dismissed for “gross misconduct and disloyalty”.
Rtd Col Dube said he was misquoted and it was not his prerogative to coerce war veterans to elect leaders and yesterday he demanded retraction of the story from Chronicle who originated it, and The Herald who reproduced it.
In a statement, Minister Dube said:
“The ministry, indeed, respects and recognises the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association as a private voluntary organisation that has and is guided by its own constitution.
“In this regard, the ministry will only exert its authority to ensure that all its client communities are well organised and united so that their members can effectively access their statutory welfare benefits, be economically empowered and be socio-politically mainstreamed in society, without at the same time meddling unduly in their internal affairs,” reads part of the statement.
Minister Dube dismissed the statement describing the report as mischievous and the evil work of agenda-setting by some individuals.
“Honourable Minister Dube would like to categorically state that he made no such suggestion and that he has no quarrel, either personal or organisational, with Honourable Mutsvangwa.
“He, therefore, believes this mischievous reportage to be the evil work of agenda-setting individuals which must be condemned in the strongest terms.”.
“That I said Cde Mutsvangwa is no longer chairman is not correct, I was misquoted,” he said.
“(Cde) Mutsvangwa was elected by the war veterans and they are the only ones who can dismiss him and his Excellency (President Mugabe). I have no power to do that. I never said that we are going to have elections.”
He said his focus was on uniting the freedom fighters and ensure their welfare was addressed.
“When I took over, I said our aim is to unite the war veterans, but because of the problems that there are too many factions, we might have to call them to come up with a structure to unite them not for them to have elections,” Rtd Col Dube said.
“I cannot determine how these people solve their leadership issues and our problem is simply to have them united at all costs.”
The Zanu-PF Politburo, which suspended Cde Mutsvangwa, resolved that he will not hold any position in the revolutionary party during his suspension, but will remain the National Assembly member for Norton.
The ZNLWVA has rallied behind Cde Mutsvangwa, saying they would continue supporting him and their patron, President Mugabe. They said his suspension would allow them to have more time with him as they push for a redress of challenges affecting their well-being.
Also suspended for three years was the Women’s League secretary for administration Cde Esphina Nhari, who had a vote of no confidence passed on her by the wing for chanting the slogan “Pasi NeG40” at a rally in Gutu last year.
Cde Mutsvangwa’s wife, Monica, was also suspended for three years after she participated in an illegal meeting that tried to overturn the ousting of Manicaland chairlady Cde Happiness Nyakuedzwa last year.
Cde Nyakuedzwa was kicked out for disrespecting First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, who is the Zanu-PF Secretary for Women Affairs.
Seven former youth provincial chairpersons were also expelled last week after some of them issued a Press statement insulting and denigrating the First Lady.
Seven youths leaders from associations aligned to Zanu-PF were expelled for naughtiness.