THE Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has flexed its muscles by holding a hugely successful war veterans indaba in Harare on Thursday.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Mutsvangwa and his group pulled what could be the biggest coup yet in the current leadership wrangles which have become the centre of attention within the ex-freedom fighter’s camp.
In his introductive remarks Mutsvangwa in his usual verbose language, declared the indaba marked victory for his comrades and things would never be the same again.
“Comrades we are not here to be vituperative today. It is our day! We were not supposed to have this meeting, we have had it. The whole structures of government supported us to have our meeting. The institutional mechanisms we put in the country, a new arm, new intelligence system, a new police had no objections for us to have this meeting because its officers are part of us,” he said.
Over 1 000 war veterans bundled in the old AVM buses followed their provincial chairpersons and braved attempts by the security establishments to thwart the indaba.
They thronged Harare City Sports Centre, where they danced and sang nostalgic revolutionary songs with armed police and water cannons lying in wait some 300 metres away.
ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said top Zanu PF figures, who felt threatened by an organised and united war veterans had attempted to thwart the meeting, but were stopped in their tracks by a competent Judiciary.
“The corrupt ones heading ministries thought we will use this meeting to discuss their corrupt deeds and how they hold stands in every town and the 50-bedroom houses they are building. We thank God we have a competent Judiciary,” he said.
It was the hero’s welcome that Matemadanda and Mutsvangwa received, as they entered the arena that left no doubt on who holds the sway and heart of the former freedom fighters.
The cheers that deafened the massive City Sports Centre as Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda delivered strong warnings against the G40 faction in Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe’s leadership spoke volumes of the power the two hold in their constituency.
The most defining moment was when war veterans agreed it was no use to continue expecting their welfare will improve under Mugabe, and instead agreed to use their structures to punish their former commander by withholding their votes in 2018.
“Hoping to get any form of welfare from such people is a complete waste. The people you gave mandated to run this country have failed,” Matemadanda said.
Mugabe has used threats to withdraw State-funded trinkets and benefits from war veterans as a leash to maintain loyalty and support from his former comrades.
Pulling the ace from his sleeve, Mutsvangwa reached out to former Zipra commander Dumiso Dabengwa and his comrades who attended the indaba, declaring the bridge that divided the war veterans had been crossed.
Mutsvangwa, Matemadanda and other ZNLWVA national executive members were last year fired on allegations of indiscipline after they openly told Mugabe to step down to make way for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. A war veterans faction led by Manicaland provincial affairs minister Mandi Chimene has since emerged but has failed to gain traction among the ex-freedom fighters.