Felex Share Senior Reporter—
War veterans have disowned last week’s communique linking them to an attack on President Mugabe amid suspicions the document could be the work of a “fifth column”, Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi said yesterday. A “fifth column” refers to a group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy. Dr Sekeramayi, who is also the Zanu-PF Secretary for War Veterans, Detainees, Restrictees and their Welfare, said while they did not absolve the freedom fighters for now, no genuine war veteran would be so “disparaging” of President Mugabe as exhibited in the treasonous communique.
The communique renounced and castigated President Mugabe’s leadership for allegedly failing to run the country.
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The Minister for the Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees, Cde Tshinga Dube, weighed in saying while Government would continue interviewing war veterans’ leaders to establish the truth, the communique could be a parody of the Blue Ocean Strategy document.
Cde Dube said investigations had revealed later that war veterans had not authored the Blue Ocean Strategy, a document that mapped out succession plots in Zanu-PF and was clandestinely released to the media after a war veterans’ meeting in Gweru in June.
Last Thursday, the latest unsigned communique found its way to the media after the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association held a meeting in Harare. Mr Mutsvangwa has denied knowledge of the document and did not attend the meeting.
Dr Sekeramayi said thorough investigations were underway to determine its origins as no one was prepared to accept authorship. “Both at party and Government level we have looked at the document, studied it and we have checked with some of the people who were at the meeting and up to now nobody is honouring and associating himself or herself with that document,” he said.
“It becomes absolutely necessary to carry out thorough investigations and get to the root of the matter. Whenever there is a meeting of the party or war veterans, as you know, resolutions are signed for or honoured. Hapana arikuti ini ndini chaiye chaiye mangwinya wacho akanyora document irori,” said Dr Sekeremayi.
He said there was a high possibility the country’s detractors could be at work, using infiltrators. “You also get a situation that it might be our enemies,” he said.
“In any organisation there are people who are persuaded whom we normally refer to as the Fifth Column. They might be used by our enemies to infiltrate us. A treacherous document of that nature is not just written without people converging and agreeing on points to make. There is no war veteran who would be so disparaging about the President of the party and country. It’s impossible.”
He went on: “If there are problems, people put their heads together to see how they can address them in order of priority. You do not go out to the extent that the private media is feasting. Vaakutoti havasati vambowana chikafu chakadai. If you see the British and the Americans celebrating that (President) Mugabe is being attacked, then you begin to ask who is behind this. The truth will come out. The majority of the war veterans should always know that the patron is there, the party is there and they will never be abandoned. Challenges will always be addressed. Let us put our heads and energies together.”
Cde Dube said the matter needed to be dealt with from various angles before rushing to conclusions. “There are so many documents flooding around and sometimes we mistakenly think that they are written by war veterans yet they would have come from people outside the war veterans,” he said.
“We don’t want to say it’s them before we are not sure it’s them who wrote that. We will interview as many war veterans as possible to find out whether they honour the authorship of the document. We want to find out who could have done this and why. We have people saying nasty things about the President but they are not officials, they are individuals. But if it’s a communique and the war vets accept that that’s what they said, then it’s a different story.”
He said some of the few war veterans’ leaders he had talked to had denied knowledge of the communique. “I have engaged a few and I will have to find out more,” Cde Dube said.
“Definitely someone wrote it, but who is he? We had a problem with this Blue Ocean Strategy. We all thought it was written by the war veterans but our discovery turned out that it was not the war veterans. There are people who wrote it for whatever reasons, we don’t know.”
The secretary in Cde Dube’s Ministry, Brigadier-General (Retired) Walter Tapfumaneyi, said: “We will continue to engage them (war veterans) as on a ministry-to-client basis because they are our clients.
“We will talk to them as we usually do. We want to find out their thinking, what is troubling them and in connection with this particular issue we also want to know whether or not it’s them.” Mr Mutsvangwa distanced himself from the communique. “I definitely have no copyright to the English language,” said Mr Mutsvangwa yesterday.
“The infiltrators are the ones ascribing authorship to me. I did not attend the meeting and I am yet to have a brief on proceedings. Paranoia makes them see my footprints on any mishap even if I am as far away as (Neil) Armstrong landing on the moon. If they are myopic and kleptocratic to see otherwise, then pity them, Zimbabwe is the real loser.”
“I have read some articles, even editorials, making assertions that I authored the document and hope those who penned the articles will be able to present their evidence,” he said. “For Johnny-come latelies, membership to Zanu-PF is the ultimate ladder to exercise unbridled power and amass obscene riches. I gave my only life to the party and the people of Zimbabwe as a gifted undergraduate.
“In short, a political post belatedly landing on my lap at 60 years of age and after 35 years of Zanu-PF cannot just be an object of pining loss. It is just a new opportunity to pursue other avenues of self-expression for my bountiful talent. Much to the disappointment of the hate and hound Mutsvangwa party pundits, I am too busy to lose even a second of commiseration. What I regret is the loss of a development dividend to Zimbabwe.”
Mr Mutsvangwa described President Mugabe as a great orator saying he could not match his standards. “President Mugabe is a great orator,” he said. “I have never had credit for this wordsmith talent being ascribed to the persona of Shakespeare or the Bible for that matter.”
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, himself a decorated war veteran, has said despite the communique, all patriotic freedom fighters were behind and loyal to President Mugabe. He also pointed out that he had nothing to do with a clique of rogue war veterans trying to push President Mugabe out of office and replace him with Cde Mnangagwa.