Former war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda, who has been conspicuous by his silence, says he is still very much active in politics and that Zimbabweans would soon know what he has been up to.
The controversial politician has been “flying below the radar” ever since he was deposed as leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) in 2014 for being disrespectful to the First Family.
Thereafter, he was given his marching orders from ZANU-PF.
For his alleged transgressions, he was arrested and hauled before the courts, where the matter is still pending. That the case is still pending might have helped silence the combative former liberation war fighter, whose sharp tongue knows no bounds.
In the past, he has been linked to former vice president Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF). ZPF insiders say the politician does not seem to be part of Mujuru’s outfit anymore, choosing to remain holed up in Bulawayo, his home province.
There has been speculation that he might retrace his footsteps back into ZANU-PF, which has been welcoming back home some of its “prodigal sons”. Sibanda told the Financial Gazette this week that he has not quit politics, insisting his silence speaks volumes.
“My silence is louder. That alone speaks volumes,” he said. “Jabulani Sibanda speaks in silence. I am still active (in politics).”
Pressed to indicate where his heart lies given the political see-saw at play in Zimbabwe, he said he would rather keep his cards close to the chest.
Political analysts said this week Sibanda should not be under-estimated as he was still very much relevant in the country’s political landscape.
Alexander Rusero, a political commentator, described his silence as “very strategic”, adding that the ex-combatant was “calculative”. Rusero said Sibanda has kept his former colleagues in ZANU-PF on the edge, not knowing what he was thinking or planning.
“His strategy has been copied and used to maximum effect by (Webster) Shamu who has since bounced back in ZANU-PF. In my opinion, in the post independence era, there is no one who has mobilised and captivated the electorate for ZANU-PF more than Sibanda,” he said.
In previous national elections, Sibanda waged a violent campaign in most parts of the country in support of the ruling party. With harmonised elections scheduled for 2018, ZANU-PF is seen reaching out to him because of his proven record of mobilising voters by whatever means.
“Therefore, Sibanda is a useful messenger. He has tangible results. It would not be surprising if he bounced back because ZANU-PF needs him,” opined Rusero.
An activist, Mbuso Fuzwayo, said Sibanda would be useful to any political formation at this juncture.
“Sibanda is a key stakeholder, whether in the positive or negative sense, in Zimbabwe’s body politic. He personally installed (President) Mugabe through his crafty campaign strategies during the 2013 elections. That same energy is badly needed to revive ZANU-PF,” said Fuzwayo.
Turning 47 years this month, although Sibanda’s credentials as a war veteran are kind of hazy, he acquitted himself well as leader of ZNLWVA.
Being a fearless character, he is credited for organising the party’s first “one million men march” in 2007 in solidarity with President Mugabe, with the party’s youth league launching another version of the campaign last year.
But where exactly does he stand, politically?
For now, that question might be difficult to answer, but as sure as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, the truth shall come out eventually. Financial Gazette