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War veterans win court order against Mugabe faction

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association has obtained a court order to stop a war veterans’ splinter group, supported by President Robert Mugabe, from convening a special meeting to elect a new leadership.

Christopher Mutsvagwa (left) is congratulated by presiding officer Major General Engelbert Rugeje after being nominated unopposed during the War Veterans Congress at Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo in November 2014 (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)
Christopher Mutsvagwa (left) is congratulated by presiding officer Major General Engelbert Rugeje after being nominated unopposed during the War Veterans Congress at Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo in November 2014 (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Ever since the war veterans broke ranks with Mugabe, the president has been trying to use his influence to force new elections and get rid of the leadership that a few weeks ago described him as a “genocidal dictator” who was now too old to lead the country.

Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene is leading the splinter group, as its interim chairperson. Her faction is trying to convene a special meeting to elect a new war vets leadership. But in an urgent application heard before Justice Joseph Musakwa in the High Court yesterday, 13 members of the splinter group were listed as respondents.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the judge reaffirmed the court’s previous decision that the Chimene-led splinter group has no mandate to act on behalf of the recognised association. He granted an interim order blocking the holding of the meeting to elect a new leadership of the ZNLWVA.

“Pending the finalisation of this matter, respondents be and are hereby ordered not to interfere with the applicant’s (ZNLWVA) activities or give Press conferences with regard to applicant and its leadership,” said Justice Musakwa.

“Respondents and any other persons acting through them are hereby interdicted from holding themselves out as the interim or substantive leaders of the applicant.

“Respondents and any other persons are ordered to restore access and possession of the applicant provincial offices in Manicaland province and Midlands province forthwith from the service of this order upon them.

“Respondents and all other persons acting through them are interdicted from calling any election within the association or affecting the administration of the applicant.”

The order was granted against George Mlala, Charles Mpofu, Joseph Chinotimba, Esther Munyaradzi, Stephen Moyo and Robert Mukwena.

Justice Musakwa, however, deferred the matter to August 10 for further hearing and determination of the application in respect of the other seven — George Matenda, Patrick Nyaruwata, Future Piriyana, Wellington Chitehwe, Rueben Chikono, Thomas Matambe and Thomas Kunaka.

The call for new leadership in the ZNLWVA follows alleged vote of no confidence on the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led executive. Mutsvangwa was consequently expelled from Zanu-PF after he was convicted of conduct that showed disrespect of the party leadership.

In their argument, the splinter group that was not legally represented, argued that the Mutsvangwa executive was removed by a vote of no-confidence. But ZNLWVA lawyer Mr Rungano Mahuni of Mahuni, Gidiri Law Chambers, argued that the constitution of the association does not provide for the removal of its leaders by a vote of no confidence.

Mr Mahuni also told the court that the Chimene-led faction cannot purport to act on behalf of the association in the absence of an election to bring them into the leadership of the association.

The Zanu-PF Politburo this week resolved to expel ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, national commissar Francis Nhando and deputy chairperson Headman Moyo.

The quartet appeared in court this week facing charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected Government. They are all out on $300 bail each. They were arrested in connection with a damning communiqué last month that called on President Mugabe to resign claiming he was a “genocidal dictator” too old to lead the country.