Tuesday 2 July 2024


The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZTNLWVA) chairperson, Andreas Ethan Mathibela, has accused the government and ruling Zanu PF party of hastily organising an elective congress for the association to remove his executive and install their preferred leadership.

Mathibela claimed that since he declared ZNLWVA a non-partisan body, the ruling party felt threatened and wanted him removed.

This comes at a time when ZNLWVA is divided, with two other factions led by Christopher Mutsvangwa and Moffat Marashwa vying for leadership. Mutsvangwa headed the association for ten years, with the last congress held in Masvingo in 2013, before Mathibela was chosen at the extraordinary congress in October last year, citing Mutsvangwa’s failure to represent veterans’ interests.

News of a pending congress on July 12, 2024, was announced three weeks ago by Zanu PF Secretary for War Veterans, Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees, Douglas Mahiya, at a press briefing also attended by the Minister of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Affairs, Monica Mavhunga, and Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, July Moyo in Harare.

However, the courts halted the congress, ruling that Mahiya, Mavhunga, and Moyo lacked the locus standi to call for the association’s elective congress. This followed Marashwa’s court action to interdict the three officials.

Addressing journalists at the Bulawayo Media Centre last Friday, Mathibela said the war vets minister and the minister of labour, in collaboration with the Zanu PF war vets league, wanted to hasten the congress to install their favoured leadership.

“I saw a situation where it was set to benefit a few, a preferred outfit they wanted, not one led by Mathibela, seen as a threat,” he said, noting that when his executive declared it was non-partisan, it caused unease among the powers that be.

“They forget that outside of the (Private Voluntary Organisation) PVO, (which is how ZNLWVA is registered) we are members of the ruling party holding party cards. But as a matter of principle and based on the PVO’s standing constitution, we cannot engage in partisan politics but focus more on welfare issues.”

Mathibela stated that three weeks ago, he was invited by Mavhunga and Moyo—represented by Lovemore Matuke—to Mavhunga’s office to discuss the association’s divisions.

“We agreed there are divisions and told them the divisions emanate from politicians,” he said.

According to Mathibela, Marashwa brought a delegation of 20 while Mutsvangwa was absent.

Mathibela said his delegation was uncomfortable with Mahiya’s presence at the meeting, who sat at the high table with the cabinet ministers.

“We registered our apprehension about Mahiya’s presence,” said the war vets leader.

Mathibela said when Mavhunga was outlining the roadmap for uniting the veterans under this pending congress, Marashwa and his group left, saying “they would not be part of a charade.”

“The minister said the electoral college would be conducted at the district and provincial level, supervised by ministry of labor officials and individuals from Zanu PF. We were also apprehensive about that,” he said.

“I asked if there was a budget for the congress. The minister said they didn’t have one. I said when we conducted the formal extraordinary congress on October 7, 2023, which resulted in the executive I lead, the money came from ourselves.”

Mathibela said they want the opportunity to prepare adequately.

“We know we have a lot of grassroots support but the timing is too short for us to prepare. They understood and said they would caucus among themselves,” he said.

“Surprisingly, days later, Mahiya issued a communique that the congress would go ahead on July 12. As much as we had differences with the Marashwa faction, they quickly interdicted Mahiya and the two ministers because they had no locus standi.”

Mathibela said there was no sense in hastening these elections.

“A one or two-day event will not solve the welfare of veterans; we have held conferences before, and they yielded nothing,” said the war vets leader.

He also questioned why the central government and the ruling party were “so anxious and desirous of hastening to hold a congress” at this particular time.

“They knew Mathibela’s outfit is not well-resourced,” Mathibela said, citing a letter from Zanu PF Secretary General Obert Mpofu that indicated his executive was not loyal to the ruling party.

“The letter was not addressed to us, but we stumbled upon it, stating that Mutsvangwa and Marashwa’s factions have openly declared their affiliation to the ruling party, making themselves appear more loyal to the party than everyone else,” which Mathibela said is against the PVO’s constitution.

“Obviously, they were constantly seeking favor from the party’s leadership and the country’s president.”

The war vets leader claimed it was at these secret meetings where his executive was demonized.

“They would say Mathibela is anti-establishment, yet the real issue is not who leads the PVO but what the PVO can do for the ordinary veterans,” he said. CITE


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