via MDC-T moves to clip party veterans’ wings – The Standard November 8, 2015
THE MDC-T has reportedly moved with speed to combat another explosive scenario emanating from the status of the MDC Veterans Activists Association (MDC VAA).
BY OBEY MANAYITI
According to insiders, under-fire leaders and those formerly holding senior positions but have lost them, have now found a new home in the influential MDC VAA.
A series of high-level meetings have been held to devise ways to deal with the new organisation with the most recent one, November 4, being the dismissal of an application by MDC VAA to be registered as an affiliate organisation of the party.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu however told The Standard in an interview that the matter was handled amicably.
“The MDC national council held a meeting at our party headquarters on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 and the VAA application for affiliate status was considered. After a very lively and fruitful debate, the national council rejected the application by VAA,” Gutu said.
“There’s absolutely no tussling and misunderstanding over the status of VAA. VAA will remain a civic organisation which any member of the MDC is free to join if they feel like joining; but it will certainly not be an affiliate organisation of the party.”
However, critics of VAA believe the group sought to create parallel structures to the mainstream party as a way to create a power base from where they would propel themselves to positions of leadership in the party.
VAA membership comprises Victor Zunza based in South Africa, deputised by Gideon Mangena in Bulawayo, with Charles Musimiki in Bikita being the secretary-general. Musimiki is deputised by Senator James Makore.
Former Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada is the treasurer, deputised by Matson Hlalo, while Kumbulani Sibanda is the organising-secretary. Ushe Paradzai is the spokesperson.
Other notable members include Tabitha Khumalo, Amos Chibaya, Lillian Timveos, Ronia Bunjira and Theresa Makone.
Mashakada said they welcomed the idea of making VAA an independent organisation so that it could effectively carry out its mandate.
“This is an association formed in 2008 by founding members of the MDC who were forced into exile for fear of political persecution on account of their activism in the party,” Mashakada said.
“The major objective of VAA is to look into issues of transitional justice and to give hope to the victims of political violence. A lot of MDC activists died, others maimed while some lost their properties. Therefore the thrust of VAA is to make sure all these victims are catered for.”
He added: “For those who perished, we support their families through a humanitarian assistance programme and for those who suffered torture and violence, we will help rehabilitate them, provide counselling and source of livelihoods so that they pick up some pieces and be able to support the mainstream MDC which they suffered for.”
Mashakada said there were no contradictions between them and the party, as detractors would want to believe, and all questions pertaining to the classification of their roles were resolved.
“The party cannot cope with the demands of victims, so we chose to have an association which will complement the mainstream party to look into the welfare of the victims. It will also be used to motivate and reactivate MDC cadres who have thrown in the towel thinking the struggle has taken too long,” he said.
“Recently some people in the party leadership were of the view that VAA should apply for an associate membership of the party. The national executive and national council met two weeks ago and resolved that VAA be left to operate on its own as an independent civic organisation answerable to its members and be bound by its constitution and pursuing its objectives.”
So far VAA has built houses for political violence victims in Mashava and on the outskirts of Bulawayo.
Although there are reports of pockets of resistance, some MDC-T members said VAA could work to counter many Zanu PF-linked organisations such as war veterans and war collaborators associations.