War veterans yesterday urged Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman Cde Jabulani Sibanda to resign or risk being pushed out for belonging to a counter-revolutionary squad opposed to the entry of the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe into politics.
Cde Sibanda recently came under fire for snubbing the First Lady’s highly-subscribed 10 provincial “Meet the People” rallies following a request for her to assume the position of Zanu-PF secretary for the Women’s League.
He was conspicuous by his absence even from the three rallies held in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, where he hails from.
Cde Sibanda incensed war veterans further when he refused to be part of the meeting held with Amai Mugabe at her children’s home in Mazowe on Thursday.
The war veterans said they were not buying into his alibi that he had been attending Zim-Asset programmes in universities and colleges that ran parallel with the First Lady’s rallies.
A group of ZNLWVA elders yesterday expressed displeasure over Cde Sibanda’s behaviour, which it said showed lack of in-depth combat experience and the peripheral role he played during the liberation struggle.
Speaking at a press conference, the war veteran elders, who included Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Victor Matemadanda, former ZNLWVA chairman Cde Patrick Nyaruwata, Cde George Matenda and Cde George Mlala, said Cde Sibanda’s time was up.
The elders’ spokesperson Cde Matemadanda said it was unfortunate that instead of taking the centre stage on issues that were being articulated by Amai Mugabe, Cde Sibanda chose to pursue factional activities.
“Cde Sibanda should resign or we will force him to resign,” he said. “He has failed the war veterans and he has chosen to be an authority of his own. He has neglected the welfare of the war veterans. We have not been able to pay medical fees, send children to school and we are suffering.
“We were not surprised that he chose to boycott the meeting with the First Lady in Mazowe and his earlier pronouncements clearly indicated that he belongs to the counter-revolutionary squad that perpetrates corruption.”
Cde Matemadanda said Cde Sibanda was claiming that people were misleading Amai Mugabe.
“Cde Sibanda claims that people are misleading the First Lady,” he said. “Does he think that Dr Mugabe is a child who has to be always led by other people? She is a mature leader, a sharp shooter, a straight talker. She is a voice that has been missed in the party for some time.
“Because of his behaviour and the contempt that he has shown to the First Family, Cde Sibanda cannot continue to lead this vanguard association. He should vacate his position to a caretaker committee before fresh elections are called to choose fresh leadership of the association.”
The group expressed its support and allegiance to Amai Mugabe and the First Family in their efforts in destroying the evils threatening to tear Zanu-PF apart.
“We stand solidly behind the First Family in this crusade to reaffirm the revolutionary path for our dear party Zanu-PF,” said Cde Matemadanda. “We want to warn those who want to kill the First Lady that they will have to dispense with us first, and we can assure them that they will have a tough fight which they can never win.
“We re-affirm our unwavering support for the First Lady’s final push and we call for the redemption of the war veterans’ association through the election of a new leadership and replacement of Cde Sibanda as national chairman of the ZNLWVA.”
They said President Mugabe should be given back his powers to appoint two vice presidents.
Cde Sibanda said yesterday that he would not react to the calls for his resignation.
“I am not commenting now,” he said.
Cde Sibanda was expected to address the Bulawayo Press Club yesterday evening, but he did not turn up.