By Blessings Mashaya
War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube has distanced his ministry from statements made by Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa attacking President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Dube told the Daily News on Thursday that the ZNLWVA leadership was out of order and must not drag the whole institution of the war veterans into the mud.
“It’s unfortunate that there were those statements that were widely reported in the private media. The War Veterans ministry does not subscribe to those views. Leaders should be respected and not demonised.
“War veterans should know better. Whoever is saying those things is stating his or her personal views, which are not representative of the view of the war veterans,” the War Veterans minister said.
But the ZNLWVA was quick to hit back at Dube upon being contacted for comment yesterday, saying the War Veterans minister was merely singing for his supper.
“He is a government employee and not our member. When our chairperson spoke, he spoke as the voice of war veterans and not government. Dube is a war veteran; we respect him but he has a job to protect and thus we do not mind what he says,” said ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda.
Dube has previously taken the flake on behalf of the garrulous ex-combatants saying despite their sharp tongue, often directed at Mugabe and his family, his ministry still recognises them in line with a court ruling that validated the ZNLWVA’s legitimacy over a rival grouping led by Mandiitawepi Chimene and George Mlala.
Chimene is the Provincial Affairs minister for Manicaland, while Mlala deputises her in the rebel faction of the former liberation war fighters.
Known for speaking his mind, Dube set tongues wagging in June after he broke ranks with the tradition in Zanu PF by supporting the war veterans in their call for Mugabe to anoint his successor.
His closeness to Mutsvangwa’s leadership has, however, been rattling feathers in Zanu PF, which dismissed the ZNLWVA chairperson in July 2016, before wielding the axe on his top four Matemadanda; Douglas Mahiya (spokesperson); Francis Nhando (national political commissar) and Headman Moyo (deputy chair).
A few days ago, Dube was publicly admonished by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who warned that the former Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss could find himself at loggerheads with the authorities if he continued siding with renegades like Mutsvangwa.
“Tshinga, you are a senior person, I wonder why you hobnob with the likes of Matemadanda. Those boys are nothing. You are more senior than those boys. It’s embarrassing,” said Mphoko.
Mutsvangwa, who is linked to the Team Lacoste faction in Zanu PF that is campaigning for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, warned the incumbent on Wednesday that he was not a super human and were ready to work against his re-election bid ahead of the 2018 polls.
He said the liberation war fighters would be going around their structures informing their membership not to vote for the rival Generation 40 (G40) associates, who include Mugabe’s wife Grace.
“There is nothing magical about becoming president of Zimbabwe. It all comes from the people. He has no magical wand to pass on to his wife to protect herself when Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere go for her.
“Only the institution will protect her but they are trying to destroy the institutions. That’s why we stand by the army, the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) and the security establishment. The president is not a super human being. We are going to make sure that the election is going to be held free and fair whether G40 wants it or not. Mphoko don’t touch our Dumiso (Dabengwa) be a proper vice president I have never seen an empty head like that one’’.
Mutsvangwa’s statement came after First Lady Grace Mugabe threw the cat among the pigeons by challenging her nonagenarian husband to anoint a successor.
Grace took the unprecedented step of nudging her reluctant husband to name his heir-apparent when she addressed members of the Zanu PF women’s league national assembly at the party’s headquarters in Harare last month.
She reasoned that it was the trend in other countries for their leaders to handpick their successors, saying that act alone could also enable Zanu PF’s warring supporters to close ranks.
Her sentiments have, however, fuelled the infighting in Zanu PF, with the two factions in Mugabe’s party — Team Lacoste and G40 — latching onto her calls to advance their agendas.