IN the face of mounting pressure and rejection by former freedom fighters, President Robert Mugabe has summoned a faction of war veterans to Harare and roped in the Zanu PF youth league, in a bid to shore up numbers.
Mugabe is today expected to address a gathering fronted by a splinter group of the ex-combatants headed by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene and Bulawayo war veteran George Mlala, among others at the Zanu PF headquarters.
But the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) has described the meeting as “illegal”.
“We do not have the power to stop them because we have no idea who is organising them. However, it is also a fact that Chimene and Mlala do not constitute the war veterans executive. Any gathering they will convene is in contravention of the High Court order issued early this year,” ZNLWVA spokesman Douglas Mahiya said yesterday.
By last night, the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led ZNLWVA executive members were finalising a court application for an interdict order barring the rival group led by Chimene from masquerading as leaders of the association at today’s meeting.
The group wants Chimene and her executive members charged with contempt of court if they take a leading role in the meeting.
The splinter group is reportedly a creation of the G40 faction in Zanu PF that is reportedly pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe to take over from her husband.
Zanu PF is split between two factions, with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly fronting the other that has the support of war veterans and sections of the country’s security establishment.
The war veterans’ hard-hitting communiqué issued last week also accused Mugabe of being the G40 godfather.
Mlala, who is the Chimene group’s secretary for lands, said Mutsvangwa and his executive were not welcome at the Zanu PF headquarters for the “solidarity meeting” with Mugabe.
“They are not welcome because they are the ones behind the communiqué that insulted the President. Those that wrote the communiqué must, in fact, have the spine to come forward and apologise,” he said.
However, it emerged yesterday that Mugabe’s meeting with Chimene and her group and the youths was meant to ratchet up pressure on Mnangagwa, whom some speculate was the power behind the war veterans.
“Their target is Mnangagwa, but they should know it is not going to be easy. Inviting mujibhas and chimbwidos (liberation war collaborators) and a group of youths will not help the President’s situation,” an insider claimed.
“He has to be pragmatic and understand that this is not personal. War veterans have heard the people’s cries and answered.”
Several MPs and senior Zanu PF officials were last night seen outside Parliament mobilising youths to demonstrate, ostensibly, against Mnangagwa and some of his perceived allies, among them Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa and Psychomotor Activities minister Josaya Hungwe.
Transport was also reportedly being organised to bus people from Mashonaland Central.
Harare provincial youth league leader Edson Takataka said the meeting was meant to “show malcontents that Zanu PF has one leader”.
“It’s just an inter-provincial meeting that seeks to show our support to our President. It’s a big programme, which we believe will send a clear message to all malcontents within and outside the party that Zanu PF is united behind its leader,” he said.
Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary Kudzanai Chipanga and Manicaland provincial youth chairman Mubuso Chinguno have urged Mugabe to call for an extraordinary congress to be used to expel Mnangagwa.
War veterans met last week and issued a damning communiqué describing Mugabe as “a genocidal, manipulative and divisive leader, who has singlehandedly benefited from the liberation war effort”.
The communiqué has rattled the very foundations of Mugabe’s administration, which has responded with desperate rebuttals, as well as denials that the former freedom fighters would never ever reject the veteran 92-year-old former guerilla leader.
War Veterans ministry permanent secretary Walter Tapfumaneyi referred questions to minister Tshinga Dube.
“Call minister Dube about that, he might have a position because he is just coming from Cabinet,” he said.
Dube was not reachable on his mobile phone.
Title: War veterans go for broke
Author: Richard Chidza
Source: News Day