Zapu has hit out at war veterans’ chairman Jabulani Sibanda claiming he was not a bona fide freedom fighter.
The Dumiso Dabengwa-led party said Sibanda was simply a “tough civilian” as he never fired a single bullet during the war of liberation.
The party said Dabengwa was an illustrious freedom fighter, whose liberation war credentials were beyond doubt.
Dabengwa, whose Chimurenga name was the Black Russian, was Zipra’s intelligence supremo.
During the Zanu PF conference last week, Sibanda told party delegates Dabengwa portrayed himself as the leader of Matabeleland following in the footsteps of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, yet he did not fit in the nationalist’s shoes.
Sibanda, who at independence in 1980 was reportedly still under training in Angola, said Dabengwa could not fit into Nkomo’s shoes and those following the Zapu stalwart were counter-revolutionaries.
Sibanda declined to comment on the Zapu accusations.
He curtly said: “I cannot stoop so low to discuss things that low with people who think backwards. They must first step up to a level where I can discuss with them,” he said.
Sibanda has been on a nationwide terror campaign to drum up support for Zanu PF in various parts of the country where he has been threatening villagers, especially in Masvingo province.
The two MDC parties accused Sibanda of using the meetings to intimidate their supporters and forcing them to parrot the Zanu PF position in the constitutionmaking meetings.
War veterans led by Sibanda threatened
villagers in Masvingo with death if they deviated from what they would have been instructed to contribute at the constitution outreach meetings and/or vote MDC at the next election.
The war veterans’ leader sparked controversy after he told villagers that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was not a threat to Zanu PF as he could easily kill him just like squashing a fly whenever he wanted and vowed even if the MDC-T leader won elections in future, he would never rule Zimbabwe.
However, Zapu information director Methuseli Moyo said they were not intimidated by Sibanda’s statements as he was frustrated that Zanu PF was losing supporters.
He said: “For the record, as far as Zapu is concerned Sibanda is not a war veteran because he did not fight in any war. The war of liberation ended while Sibanda’s group was still undergoing training in Angola.
“Sibanda’s attack on our party and president Dr Dumiso Dabengwa is motivated by his frustration that more people continue to desert his party to rejoin Zapu, especially in Matabeleland, where Sibanda comes from.”
Moyo said at no time did Nkomo or Dabengwa claim to be leaders of Matabeleland.
“The two’s national profile can never be disputed by anyone, even by Zanu PF itself. Dabengwa knows fully well that he is complete as Dabengwa and does not represent Nkomo.
“Dabengwa is a pioneer liberation war fighter whose reputation is known from Cape to Cairo and beyond. That is why Zanu PF is shaken to the core by his ascendancy to the Zapu presidency,” said Moyo.
“Whether Sibanda likes it or not, Zapu, the authentic and founder liberation movement of Zimbabwe, is out of the belly of the beast and back on its feet. Our late president and commander-in-chief Joshua Nkomo foretold that when it was time to disengage from the unity accord with Zanu PF, some would remain there stuck in the mud or too muddy and embarrassed to come out.”
Moyo said Sibanda and other ex-Zapu and ex-Zipra cadres who were stuck in the mud in Zanu PF had fulfilled Nkomo’s prophecy.