The Interview Tichaona Zindoga
Vice-Chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Cde Joseph Chinotimba (JC) says ousted leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda could not continue to lead the organisation following revelations of his efforts in undermining President Mugabe and his wife Amai Grace Mugabe, his threats to march to State House and his underhand dealings with a certain faction in Zanu-PF which saw him having cars bought for him to go on a campaign to subvert the President. Our Senior Political Writer Tichaona Zindoga caught up with Cde Chinotimba to talk about this and other issues.
TZ: Recent events in Zanu-PF have exposed war veterans leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda through his activities and utterances, which have also displeased President Mugabe. From what you know, who is Jabulani Sibanda and what role did he play in the liberation struggle?
JC: Jabu is only known from Zipra — I personally do not know him even his past. However, you can tell that he does not behave the way war vets like me ought to behave that is have respect and being humble and not boisterous, We know party principles.
Now questions are being asked whether he is a real war veteran. I used to defend him when he picked fights with Cdes (Joseph) Msika and (John Landa) Nkomo thinking they were against war vets now I realise I was wrong. As for his background I have only been told that he trained in 1979 but we have never heard about his activities during that period. You should ask him which assembly point he ended up at where he fought and who he was with?
TZ: In light of this how qualified is he to talk about, and represent war vets?
JC: We made a mistake to appoint him as the leader of the war veterans in the country. However, on 15 November we are going to have our congress at the Zanu-PF Headquarters and we will choose a new executive. Every war vet is going to participate and we will decide on the new leadership. We have now realised what Jabu is like and comrades in the country’s provinces now know that he is not qualified to lead war veterans.
TZ: Cde Sibanda has been going around the country holding various meetings and activities, what are your thoughts on these activities?
JC: He was sent by Satan to expose himself and now he has exposed himself and President Mugabe is not happy with him.
We cannot be led by a person who does not like the President and the First Lady no matter how wronged he was. Even me I have never denounced Mai Mujuru, the President or the First Lady. But I don’t want to see corruption. If someone is corrupt we have ways to deal with them.
On the other hand Jabu has a lot of questions to answer and tell us what corruption the late Solomon Mujuru did as he implied when he said people must not persecute Mai Mujuru for Solomon’s corruption.
He put Mai Mujuru in a corner. I am not happy about that and he must tell us where our commander stole. I have always said that if Jabu has nothing to say he must shut up. He is not fit to be a leader.
TZ: It has emerged that Cde Sibanda has received cars from people aligned to VP Mujuru? What is your comment?
JC: I did not know about that and I was surprised when the President mentioned it. The President knows everything that goes on. But I was so surprised that war vets are suffering yet Jabu is being given cars.
He never talks about the welfare of war vets or engage (Finance Minister Patrick) Chinamasa. Even last year when we had (Tendai) Biti he never did. All he needs is eating by himself. He even discouraged us from approaching Biti.
Ask Biti and he will tell you he never saw Jabu but it was only me who fought for the welfare of war vets. Jabu even gave excuses on behalf of government that the coalition government had no money. We now realise how selfish he is!
TZ: Now Sibanda is saying that he wants to march to State House at the same time he has threatened war. And this is happening at a time Tsvangirai has also threatened mass action. What is your assessment of these actions?
JC: We do not know how he was going to march to State House. We said we would not be part to it. If he wants to march who will march with him? I am a war vet and I cannot be forced to do that. Right now Jabu sounds like a dissident.
TZ: In light of these threats and activities, what are you going to do as a war vet and leader yourself?
JC: We will deal with the matter at Congress and we are saying “phansi naye” (down with him). When he was elected I was the one who had the first nominations but I let him take the position.
Now I should take that position because I was the choice in the first place. I can also represent the interests of war vets because I am in Parliament and I can talk directly to the President.
TZ: Looking at Zanu-PF factionalism, some people have been plotting to oust President Mugabe using Americans and the opposition, and other corrupt practices, what is your comment on that and should such leaders deserve the highest office in the land?
JC: I received a letter from the EU yesterday (Thursday) informing me that they were withdrawing all NGOs from my constituency because I had was among those who denounced western interference through aid from Americans.
They thought I would sell-out but I will continue to be steadfast and not sell-out like some people.
Those people working with enemies, we will see where they will end up. Many people in Zanu-PF have tried to sell-out but they will come to grief. And many of those involvd in corruption are the ones who never went to war and joined Zanu-pF in the 1990s and even in the 2000s for personal benefit.
TZ: What, in your view, are the attributes of the person who should take over from President Mugabe when he eventually leaves, or choose to leave office?
JC: I do not want to be asked such a question because if I say so and so should succeed President Mugabe when he dies or leave office, that is factionalism and I don’t want to be drawn into that.
Don’t ask me that question.
Ask me when it happens.