PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s relationship with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) could be headed for stormy waters over what the latter believe is the Zanu PF leader’s disregard for the Unity Accord.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
“We want to make an appeal to the leadership of the party to appreciate serious concerns from our membership, in particular the Zipra component, in our organisation.
“They have expressed grave misgivings about developments in the party and are threatening to pull out of efforts to unite the party and solve the problems bedevilling Zanu PF and the country,” David Tondlana, a member of the ZNLWVA national executive told journalists at the weekend.
Flanked by ZNLWVA Mashonaland East chairperson, Daniel Sigauke, Sam Parirenyatwa (Mashonaland Central), Hoyini Bhila (Harare deputy chairperson) and Cornelius Muwoni (Mashonaland West), Tondlana said the association would be forced to support their former Zipra combatants in the event of a pull-out.
The group cited the appointment of Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as Zanu PF national chairperson as a potential source of internal fissures in the party.
“The position of national chairperson has always been reserved for the Zapu component in the event that the president is Zanu.
“This is not in any way saying Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri is not deserving, she is one of us and a distinguished veteran of the struggle, but the composition of the party’s presidium is now skewed in favour of one side of the parties to the Unity Accord.
“The normal situation is the we have two from each side, but now we are likely to have three from Zanu and only one from Zapu in the event that a Vice-President is appointed from that side,” Tondlana said.
He said the group had been approached by ZNLWVA provincial chairpersons from Matabeleland South and North and Bulawayo, who expressed “deep concern” over the issues.
“The Zapu component and Zipra, in particular, is very bitter about these issues and as former Zanla combatants, we are also deeply concerned because without the participation of our colleagues, the association stands seriously weakened if not divided.
“If our Zipra cadres pull out (support for Mnangagwa) we will be left with no choice but to support their position, for we cannot envisage a situation in which we allow ourselves to be divided by politicians,” he said.
One of the salient points of the Unity Accord of 1987 is that two of the four posts in the Zanu PF presidium be reserved for the former Zapu, but with Muchinguri-Kashiri’s appointment, it seems this has been dispensed with.
Contacted for comment,war veterans boss, Christopher Mutsvangwa, who is also Mnangagwa’s special adviser, said his principal was aware of the war veterans’ concerns.
“The President is aware and consultations are ongoing. We (war veterans), in particular, would want to see, for example, Tshinga Dube in the politburo,” Mutsvangwa said.
Dube has been touted as a potential pick for Vice-President.
Mnangagwa deferred the appointment of his two deputies, which he said will be done “in a few days’ time”.
The war veterans group said Mnangagwa had shown undisguised favour for certain leaders of the former fighters such as secretary general, Victor Matemadanda, who has been appointed to at least three positions within two weeks.
Matemadanda was initially appointed War Veterans deputy minister before Mnangagwa was forced into a climb-down after realising the Constitution limited the number of people he could appoint from outside the legislature.
He was then moved to head the Zanu PF commissariat, but was again moved to secretary for war veterans in the politburo with a military serviceman, Major General Engelbert Rugeje taking over.
The war veterans were one of Mnangagwa’s closest allies in the race to succeed former President Robert Mugabe.