New war vets leader steps in

Source: New war vets leader steps in | The Sunday Mail Sep 11, 2016

Kuda Bwititi : Chief Reporter

Government no longer recognises Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa as Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson and has assigned ex-combatant Cde Robert Ncube to hold fort in the interim, a Cabinet minister has said.It has also emerged that the association has been operating with an invalid constitution, prompting Government to step in to assist the ZNLWVA.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Detainees and Ex-Restrictees Minister Colonel (Retired) Tshinga Dube said the decision on Ambassador Mutsvangwa was taken when 60-plus senior former combatants met in Harare last Monday.

It was premised on the “untenable” relations between the parent ministry and Ambassador Mutsvangwa following his expulsion from Zanu-PF whose leader, President Mugabe, is ZNLWVA Patron. Rtd Col Dube, Prison and Correctional Services Commissioner-General Major-General (Rtd) Paradzai Zimondi, Police Deputy Commissoner-Gen Levi Sibanda and Zimbabwe National Army Chief-of-Staff (Administrative Staff) Maj-Gen Douglas Nyikarayamba were among veterans at the meeting.

Rtd Col Dube said the gathering picked ZNLWVA finance secretary Cde Ncube to steer the association towards an elective congress.

“Such meetings are under the auspices of a Cabinet Committee which has been in place since April to look into the affairs affecting war veterans.

“The group of senior war veterans who attended that meeting resolved that Cde Ncube lead the war veterans as they prepare to hold a Congress because he is the most senior member,” he said.

Rtd Col Dube said lawyers representing Ambassador Mutsvangwa and other rogue veterans tried to get Government to rescind the decision.

They wrote, “Our client advised us that you have unnecessarily and unlawfully appointed Mr Robert Ncube in the office of acting chairman while Mr Chris Mutsvangwa is still holding the office.

“We, therefore, have been instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you revoke the aforementioned purported appointment in writing within seven working days of your receipt of this letter, failing which we have instructions to take appropriate legal action against you and anyone who may have taken part in the making of that decision.”

Rtd Col Dube dismissed the letter thus: “I think they have jumped the gun because we also recognise that Cde Mutsvangwa is still their leader in terms of what was granted by the courts. What we are doing is guided by the vision of our Patron, President Mugabe, who wants war veterans to be united. They cannot be united if the interests of individuals are put first ahead of the interests of the thousands of other war veterans.”

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Brigadier-Gen (Rtd) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi said authorities had been “forced to intervene following the unusual situation of a war veterans chairman being expelled from Zanu-PF”.

“He remains the chairman of the association, but his position has become untenable because war veterans are an affiliate of Zanu-PF. The party has a say on how the association is led. We are looking for a workable solution to an unusual situation.

“The (ZNLWVA) constitution was suspended by the Masvingo congress of 2014. It was supposed to be amended and reinstated, but the Mutsvangwa-led executive was running its affairs without a valid constitution. So, the process we are undertaking will bring an amended constitution back into validity.”

Rtd Brig-Gen Tapfumaneyi added, “At law, nothing can stop war veterans from forming any number of associations that represent their interests.

The war veterans association is only of value if it serves the purpose for which it was formed.

“The majority of war veterans are uncomfortable being led by members who have taken a political position regarding the party and the President.

“If we do not reach a compromise to bring back war veterans into line, we have the capacity to create another association which is responsibly led and the Mutsvangwas of this world risk remaining with an association of six members.”

Ambassador Mutsvangwa and association members Headman Moyo (vice-chair), Jacob Matemadanda (secretary-general) Douglas Mahiya (secretary for information) and Francis Nhando (political commissar) were expelled from Zanu-PF for denigrating party leaders, among other charges.

Matemadanda, Moyo, Mahiya and Nhando were arrested on allegations of publishing and distributing a treasonous communique advocating the illegal removal of President Mugabe from office.

The matter is before the courts and they are out of custody on bail.