HARARE – Internal strife within the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) is escalating with confusion surfacing on when the congress to choose the new leadership will be held.
The Christopher Mutsvangwa-led executive was elected in November 2014, taking over from Jabulani Sibanda, who was kicked out in the run-up to the Zanu PF congress of the same year.
The current executive’s term is set to end this year and according to sources within the association, some former liberation fighters aligned to Mutsvangwa are trying to push it to 2023 while the rival faction wants the congress held this year.
Contacted for comment ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said they will release a statement at the right time.
“I don’t know when the congress is going to be held. Who sent you to ask such a question? Zvinei newe (What does that have to do with you)? You are trying to destroy war veterans’ organisation so that you get rid of Zanu PF. You are being used by someone.
“We fought for this country, we suffered and you are now enjoying the fruits of the liberation war but you are now trying to destroy us. We are going to announce the dates of the congress at the right time, wait for us. You are not our member, so don’t ask about the congress.”
The confusion comes as ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda recently tore into Mutsvangwa, who has been highly critical of alleged cartels that he says now control President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
They have been exchanging harsh words with informed sources saying the simmering tensions were over resources.
It is believed there were substantial donations that were pumped into ZNLWVA towards the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, but these did not reach all the war veterans, hence the infighting.
Matemadanda was reportedly moving around the country accusing Mutsvangwa of trying to work to oust Mnangagwa by organising demonstrations against the government.
This was after a section of war veterans demonstrated in the streets of Harare early this month demanding Mnangagwa’s government to honour other monetary promises dating back to 1998.
However, recently Matemadanda said the much-talked-about tiff between himself and Mutsvangwa doesn’t exist.
“We talked about this issue, we are not fighting with Mutsvangwa, those are fabricated stories, and we are not at loggerheads with Mutsvangwa. I am seeing this in the media,” Matemadanda said recently.
In November last year, Mashonaland West war veterans passed a vote of no confidence on Mutsvangwa accusing him of being “self-centred and disrespectful of Mnangagwa”.
Mashonaland West war veterans’ leadership also accused Mutsvangwa of “creating divisions within the organisation and making utterances that had brought the organisation and Zanu PF into disrepute, which was unexpected of a member of the politburo”.
A few weeks after the Mashonaland West incident, Matemadanda blasted Mutsvangwa saying he must stop dragging his name into his own fights.
“When Mashonaland West announced that they now want Mutsvangwa to be recalled, Mutsvangwa’s wife called me mid-night asking what my take was? I said, I spent five years fighting Mugabe and now I want to work for my family,” Matemadanda said last month.
“I don’t want to be dragged into issues of fuel that we are hearing that there are certain people who want to invest in that sector. I have nothing to do with those wars (and) I don’t want to be involved. The fact that I refused to comment on the position taken by Mashonaland West is the reason why they are saying it’s me who is interested in the chairmanship post.
“The stupidity of whoever is saying that is, the constitution is very clear that if Mutsvangwa steps down today, his deputy is the one who takes over until we elect a new chairman.”