Friday, 11 November 2016

CHIMENE LETS RIP

Outspoken Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene has accused military chiefs and some Zanu PF bigwigs of sidelining war veterans loyal to President Robert Mugabe, as the ruling party’s succession wars and its scramble for the support of ex-combatants intensifies ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

This comes as the nonagenarian and his brawling ruling party have been working hard to heal the widening rift between them, and the former freedom fighters who ended their 41-year relationship with the Zanu PF leader after releasing a damning communiqué on him in July.Since then, Mugabe and Zanu PF have been dangling gifts to the war vets, including cash, land and vehicles in a bid to strengthen the ruling party ahead of the crucial forthcoming polls — after their initial thuggish methods failed to coerce the disgruntled ex-combatants into line.

And as Zanu PF desperately tries to bribe the ex-combatants back, Mugabe’s former deputy, Joice Mujuru, is also going out of her way to court their affection by setting up a committee to woo them to her Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party ahead of 2018.

But in her scathing attack, Chimene has accused War Vets minister Tshinga Dube and some unnamed military chiefs, of sideling her group of ex-combatants who are in a factional conflict with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), which is led by former Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.

“The minister is working with an association, not with all war veterans, and that affects us all. The association is free to choose its leadership. They should not abuse that role and are defying their patron (Mugabe). The minister should stop poking his nose in the affairs of war veterans because it raises eyebrows,” she said.

“We have since decided . . . that the remaining members of the high command should lead the re-organisation of the association (ZNLWVA). They want to look down on our commanders who are living in rural areas. What has changed? The ministry and war veterans are two different things. If the ministry is directing its energies on war veterans, then it is not doing its job. I am surprised that the minister is concentrating on war veterans’ affairs which are not government business,” she told the Daily News.

“He did not attend the meeting which was meant for war veterans. If he is a war veteran, why did he choose not to attend? We booted out Mutsvangwa at that meeting and if he thinks that he can support Mutsvangwa he should do that quietly but not as a minister,” Chimene added.

However, Dube told the Daily News that Mutsvangwa’s expulsion from both Zanu PF and Mugabe’s Cabinet did not mean that he had ceased to be the leader of the war veterans.
“Mutsvangwa is a member of the war veterans. His expulsion from the party does not mean that he is no longer one of us. I think there are some people who have come into the party and are influencing things. I don’t think the president would have expelled Mutsvangwa but there are some people who have come in and think that expelling people is the best thing to do. I also don’t work with any particular group, so she (Chimene) is just saying nothing,” he said.

“When we met with members of the high command and general staff, she admitted that she had erred in forming a parallel structure. Now she is saying something else,” Dube said.
“I respect her and I want to work with her but I will never tolerate parallel structures. We have Zanu PF and you cannot say I have formed my Zanu PF. Maybe you can say I have formed Zanu 98, not Zanu PF,” he added.

The renewed hostilities between Chimene and her group on one hand, and some Zanu PF bigwigs and other war veterans on the other, come as Mugabe is splurging millions of dollars on new off-road vehicles and other inducements to appease the disaffected war veterans.

Both analysts and Zanu PF insiders say the scramble to court the former freedom fighters has become even more critical, as the ruling party’s factional and succession wars continue to rage hot amid clear signs that many of the disaffected ex-combatants support vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chimene is said to be a prominent member of the generation 40 (G40) faction and which is rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather taking over from the increasingly-frail nonagenarian.

In the meantime, some of war veterans have even publicly warned that if Mnangagwa does not succeed Mugabe, there could be bloodshed in the country.

Speaking at a hastily-arranged solidarity meeting with Mugabe in July, Chimene savaged Mnangagwa and bluntly accused the former Zibagwe-Chirumhanzu legislator of allegedly plotting to oust the Zanu PF leader from power; all this right in front of the nonagenarian and many other party officials.

Chimene’s ruthless assault on Mnangagwa followed a similar one by another alleged G40 kingpin, Zanu PF women’s league secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka, who earlier this year also publicly undressed the hapless VP, going to the extreme extent of claiming that he will never ascend to higher office because he allegedly lacked a social base.

“Crocodiles must remain in the water. They must stay in the river. They must not stay with the people. Zanu PF is not a dam for crocodiles,” she said in her no-holds-barred blitzkrieg.
This occurred just days after the former freedom fighters served divorce papers on Mugabe — marking the end of a political relationship that dates back to 1975 when freedom fighters catapulted the 92-year-old to the leadership of the ruling party.

War veterans had served as Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s political power dynamos, playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.

In serving those divorce papers on Mugabe, the liberation struggle fighters also said pointedly that Mugabe’s continued stay in power was now a stumbling block to the country’s development, adding coldly that the nonagenarian would be “a hard-sell” if he contested the watershed 2018 presidential elections.

Mugabe responded by warning the disaffected war veterans that they would be dealt with ruthlessly, including the use of extra-judicial methods that his former liberation movement incorporated during the country’s independence war — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats.

After this, police duly launched a savage crackdown against the war vets leadership and arrested five officials, including secretary-general Victor Matemadanda and spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, both of whom are still appearing at the courts. Daily news

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