FORMER war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda thinks President Robert Mugabe’s government is showing all the signs of a failed State and the country is tottering on the brink of disintegration. NewsDay senior reporter Richard Chidza (ND) caught up with Sibanda (JS), who did not mince his words over the treatment of war veterans following last week’s abortive gathering in Harare.
Below are excerpts:
ND: You were expelled from Zanu PF for insinuating that President Robert Mugabe’s power had been usurped in a “bedroom coup”. Now First Lady Grace has declared she is in-charge, do you feel vindicated?
JS: The country’s Constitution is very clear on who holds power and where they draw such power.
I am not aware if there is a part of the Constitution which says anybody aside from the two Vice-Presidents can run the country at any given time. Not even his [Mugabe] twin if he had one, let alone a wife.
Zimbabwe, as a country, is under threat of disintegration. Every State is premised on the three pillars, the Executive, judiciary and legislature — Parliament and the judiciary are holding their own.
They are performing their functionsj although not to satisfaction or levels required.
However, the Executive arm of government has failed to carry out its mandate of protecting citizens’ rights.
Our country is in danger of an ethnic upheaval and disintegration and this is coming from careless statements by high ranking members of the Executive.
The government has failed to keep the country together and its senior members use party rallies to make ethnic pronouncements. We now hear of Karangas, Zezurus and their capacity to lead or not.
Our government has become a national security threat, a danger to the very existence of our nation-state more than anything else we have ever seen.
ND: But who is to blame for this state of affairs?
JS: Mugabe cannot take the blame alone. He is 92 and, in any case, he could not be asked to look after cattle in a rural setting.
Grace has been there and given privilege to act above the VPs. They invited her and used her to get rid of (former Vice-President Joice) Mujuru and to say things they were uncomfortable saying.
But it must be understood that the First Lady is not an official function. It is an honour and she is not even a senior member of the party and certainly not above the VPs.
ND: You were part of the Zanu PF campaign machinery prior to the 2013 election and were aware of his age. Right?
JS: True. I campaigned for him in 2013 aware of his age. The idea was to use the victory in a free and fair election and the time before 2018 to stabilise both the party and State.
Our aim was to use this period we are in to reconstruct the party ideologically and structurally. Mugabe is generally a victim of abuse, but you cannot discount the fact that privately, he ascribes to these things
The First Family is the most hated group of people in the country. People ask what is happening, but there is little some of us can do. My life is under judicial management. I have a pending case.
I report to police regularly and my passport was confiscated, but ordinary people continue to plead for intervention everywhere we go.
ND: There are rumours you have been approached to go back to Zanu PF?
JS: Zanu PF’s constitution was violated in my case. I was never given a chance to state my case and I believe the party owes me an apology.
But still, yes I can confirm that some people have approached me. They are coming in the dead of night. There are people in Zanu PF who feel even Mujuru was ill-treated and think there is a chance to work together.
A chance that we could go back to the party, but my principle is that people in leg-irons do not negotiate.
I have a standing court order against Zanu PF. Just before the congress in 2014, there was an order to stop me from going anywhere near their functions. Although it was meant to be effective to a particular time and place, I have a feeling it still stands.
ND: But are you willing to consider their offer?
JS: I will reason with anybody for the sake of my country. But the question is better answered by Zimbabweans, the odd 14 million of us.
I am with the people now but do they still see their future through Zanu PF lenses? Do they approve of Zanu PF activities and the executive?
ND: What do you think of the First Lady’s comments about the military?
JS: The case leaves a lot of questions than answers. Was the army involved in a dodgy operation that went wrong? Why did the director of military intelligence request that the case be heard in-camera? Was it one of those operations later to be blamed on the opposition, as has happened before? What is it that the army does not want the public to know? Why was the army involved in an attack on a citizen’s property and how many such attacks have happened without public knowledge?
It is a clear illustration of the conflict within the different arms of the Executive, signs of a failing State. But most importantly, it is the third force we have referred to before. When the right time comes, we will say more.
ND: The police attack on war veterans in Harare last Thursday has no precedence. What is your view?
JS: This is not the first attack on freedom fighters. The first was failure to be recognised by a government they laid their lives to give birth to for 17 years after Independence.
Many died without this recognition, it was an economic, psychological and physical attack. There are those that died during the struggle, who gave their lives for the freedom of this country through a general one-man one-vote poll.
They were aware of imminent death, but they loved their country more. There is the other group among these two-thirds of Zipra combatants who were killed during Gukurahundi.
They died in shock after watching the very guns they had used to free the country turned against them.
Some died during the Mozambican campaign, where we now have affidavits to the effect that there were orders to make sure any Zipra combatant does not return alive if there was a chance.
If you believe that the MDC-T won elections through votes from cantonment areas, then you will believe we have the affidavits I am talking about.
ND: But what does this mean?
JS: These are indications that Zanu PF has severed itself from the responsibilities expected of a liberation movement and now represents completely opposite interests.
These war veterans sacrificed their lives to remove the British South Africa Police to replace it with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, only to get the same vile treatment from their creation.
War veterans must mobilise for a meeting of former executive members and the current leadership.
The extended executive must then call for a meeting and invite the Commander Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga and the two Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko to address them on the state of the republic, independence and the motives of the country’s leadership as well as events in their party. I would urge Cde Chris Mutsvangwa to call for this meeting.
ND: What is your advice to Zimbabweans given the current situation?
JS: I ask our people to remain calm. They should not allow tribalists to divide them. Things have got to change, but everyone must take part and engage. They have to engage because our country is at crossroads.
Our future has to be protected and we have a mandate to prevent the country from turning into a Libya or Syria.
Most of our people have not taken part in elections because they have a feeling their vote does not count. Our people must now engage because Zimbabwe is under threat from the Executive.