ED slams rogue war veterans VP Mnangagwa
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa

From George Maponga in BIKITA—

Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday slammed a clique of war veterans for trying to “stoke unnecessary succession fires” within Zanu-PF ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.Rogue elements among the ex-freedom fighters are fuelling the debate, despite the fact that all ruling party provinces countrywide and organs have already overwhelmingly endorsed President Mugabe as its sole candidate for the polls.

All genuine war veterans, the Acting President said, were supposed to abide by the “sacred and long-standing code’’ that politics led the gun, not the other way round.

Acting President Mnangagwa’s rebuke was in reference to a group of leaders within the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) led by expelled Mr Christopher Mutsvangwa who have been pushing a secessionist agenda in Zanu-PF ahead of next year’s polls.

Five ZNLWVA executive members — Douglas Mahiya, Francis Nhando, Victor Matemadanda, Headman Moyo and Hoyini Samuel Bhila — who were accused of denigrating President Mugabe were recently removed from remand by a Harare magistrate.

Zanu-PF provinces passed a resolution at last year’s 16th ruling party Annual National People’s Conference in Masvingo endorsing President Mugabe as the ruling party’s 2018 Presidential candidate.

Mr Mutsvangwa and his group have since been expelled from the revolutionary party though they continue to try and influence developments within it.

Addressing thousands of ruling party supporters at Gwindingwi High School grounds at Nyika Growth, here where he was officially unveiling Cde Beauty Chabaya as the ruling party candidate for the January 21 Bikita West parliamentary by-election, Acting President Mnangagwa warned ruling party supporters against following wayward war veterans.

“As we go for the 2018 elections, let me make it very clear that all the 10 Zanu-PF provinces in this country have endorsed President Mugabe as our Presidential candidate. However, there are some five or six war veterans vakadya dondo (who lost the way), they are rushing to the Press saying whatever they want, but they were expelled from the party.

“Some of us joined the liberation struggle in the early 1960s and we know that the code has always been that the party is supreme, the party commands the gun, its not the gun that commands the party.’’

The Acting President said all genuine war veterans were members of Zanu-PF save for a few rotten apples.

“It’s not all the war veterans who are wayward and rogue, so do not run away when you come across them, the party of all genuine war veterans is Zanu-PF of course they are a few ones who are lost. So if you hear a war veteran saying the gun commands the party tizai (run away).’’

He hailed the people of Bikita West for coming out in large numbers for the star rally saying this affirmed that Zanu-PF was the dominant political force in Zimbabwe.

Acting President Mnangagwa mocked local opposition parties, describing them as perennial election losers and Zanu-PF bridesmaids who would continue to watch from the sidelines with the ruling party in the driving seat.

“I am very happy with the high attendance at this rally and tomorrow (Thursday) I will be phoning the President from where he is telling him that the Bikita West seat is firmly in Zanu-PF’s bag, thank you the people of Bikita West.’’

He reminded the people of Bikita West about the pain and suffering experienced for Zimbabwe to attain independence from British colonists in 1980, saying Zimbabweans were supposed to stick to the ruling party as a way of paying homage to both living and fallen heroes of the independence war.

Bikita West, the Acting President said, was supposed to remain under Zanu-PF control to maintain the ruling party’s dominance in Masvingo.

Turning to the food situation, the Acting President reiterated that no one would die of hunger, adding that the country had eight months supply of maize.

He said as of the end of last year the country had imported and distributed about 643 000 tonnes of maize to alleviate the effects of the 2015-16 farming season’s El-Nino induced drought that left millions in need of food aid countrywide.

“President Mugabe has always made it a point that he does not want anyone to starve and as chairman of the task-force responsible for importing food, I want to tell you today that we have eight months supply of maize grain, which means without touching anything we have enough food to last us up to August this year.

“We have about 322 000 tonnes of grain in our Strategic Grain Reserve right now and together with the maize that awaiting shipment into the country from ports such as Beira and in countries such as South Africa and Zambia, there are sufficient stocks of food for the nation.’’

He said areas experiencing food shortages should lay the blame on the leadership there which was not knocking soon enough on the door of central government for food supplies.

‘’When distributing food aid people should not be asked to produce membership cards for their political parties, the qualification for one to get food aid is just being a Zimbabwean so please lets bear in mind that our President wants every Zimbabwean to get food aid irrespective of political affiliation,’’ he said.

The Acting President urged the people of Bikita West to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming by election and help preserve the country’s hard-won independence.

The Acting President said the forth-coming by-election was a dress rehearsal for next year’s elections saying leaders were servants of the people.

He urged Cde Chabaya to start seriously looking into the problems of people in Bikita West with particular emphasis on roads, boreholes among other basic infrastructure that impinged on the lives of the common man and woman.

In his address Zanu PF political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, urged Zanu PF Members of Parliament to stay connected to the people if they were to be re-elected.

He said the ruling party was confident of romping to victory in Bikita West saying other opposition parties would not withstand the Zanu PF juggernaut.

Cde Kasukuwere urged Zanu PF leaders at lower-tier levels to spread the gospel of the ruling party in Bikita West ahead of the last star rally scheduled for January 18.

Senior Masvingo Zanu PF politburo member Cde Josaya Hungwe, said the record attendance at the Zanu PF star rally was testimony that the ruling party was a people’s party.

The Bikita West parliamentary by-election will see Cde Chabaya battling it out for the right to represent the constituency with five other candidates.

Besides Cde Chabaya others eyeing the Bikita West parliamentary seat are former Zanu PF Youth leader Mr Kudakwashe Gopo who will be representing the Zimbabwe People First led by Dr Joice Mujuru together with Mr Madock Chivasa who is the national spokesperson of the National Constitutional Assembly(NCA).

Others are Mr Terence Makumbo of the little-known Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ), an Independent candidate Mr Innocent Muzvimbiri together with former Bikita West legislator Mr Heya Shoko, who is also standing as an independent.

The by-election will be held to fill a vacancy left after the incarceration of former Member of Parliament for the constituency Munyaradzi Kereke.

Kereke, who was elected Bikita West legislator on a Zanu-PF ticket during the 2013 harmonised elections, was jailed for an effective 10 years for raping his then 11 year-old niece.

The Zanu-PF Bikita West star rally was attended by top ruling party officials in Masvingo among them Politburo member Cde Lovemore Matuke, Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa and Zimbabwe chiefs council president Chief Fortune Charumbira.

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