THE last-minute cancellation of the scheduled war veterans’ national indaba in Bulawayo on Saturday was reportedly triggered by a directive from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), NewsDay has learnt.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Hundreds of war veterans had planned to march throughthe streets of Bulawayo on Saturday reportedly to show support for President Robert Mugabe, but their hopes were extinguished after JOC ordered the police to stop the event at the 11th hour.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told NewsDay on Friday night that they stopped the event after JOC assessed the situation.
“I have checked, and it is true that the event has been stopped. This follows a directive by the national Joint Operations Command,” Charamba said.
This came amid fears in government circles that the meeting could turn violent and hence posed a major security threat.
But top Zanu PF politburo members stated that the meeting was stopped to avert imminent fights between the party’s two major factions — one reportedly led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the so-called Generation 40 (G40) — a coalition of few individuals reportedly coalescing around First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Zanu PF is currently embroiled in serious factionalism as the rival camps position their members to succeed Mugabe, who turns 92 next month.
“The move is meant to avert a possible split. Things are not okay at party level. Any instability will subsequently cripple government,” a top party official said.
However, War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa accused the police of playing into the hands of what he termed “split-tists” in the war veterans association.
Yesterday, Mustvangwa denied reports that the meeting was cancelled over speculative reports that some veterans intended to hijack the meeting and demonstrate against Zanu PF’s G40 faction members.
He said there was a lot of bickering before the meeting and it was “unfortunate the police played into the hands” of divisive elements.
Mutsvangwa said the police should have known better since they had war veterans within their ranks, including Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.
He also accused one war veteran (name supplied) of being a “splittist”, disturbing processes by trying to form a splinter group that he wanted to align to Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko for personal favours.
Mphoko is the Acting President.
“It is not true. It is a red herring. There are other forces at play and I am sure the passage of time will expose that,” Mutsvangwa said.
“It is unfortunate that the police played into the hands of splittists and cancelled the meeting that they had initially given a green light.”
Bulawayo war veterans’ chairperson Cephas Ncube also said war veterans were too disciplined to behave that way.
“We do not have that character and we are disciplined. If it is a political issue that we need addressed we follow the political channels,” he said, adding the named war veteran was a “diversionist”.