President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday told Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Minister Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube that he had not named his successor as that was the prerogative of the Zanu PF Congress.
Dube was in deep trouble for throwing his weight behind former liberation war fighters who are putting pressure on Mugabe to name his successor in order to stop the infighting in Zanu PF.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Minister Dube dismissed solidarity demonstrations organised by a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Associations led by Mandi Chimene at the Zanu-PF headquarters yesterday calling for Minister Dube’s resignation.
A liberation war icon who fought on the Zapu’s Zipra side during the war, Dube set the cat among the pigeons by publicly backing the boisterous ex-combatants on the hot Zanu PF succession conundrum on Sunday, courting the wrath of the so-called loyalists who have no qualms with the status quo.
Chimene and her deputy George Mlala accused the War veterans minister of going overboard saying war vets were “against what Minister Dube said”.
They further urged Minister Dube to resign and form his own party. Chimene further announced that they were calling for the ouster of Minister Dube from both Government and Zanu-PF.
“His Excellency talked to me yesterday about the issue, to say, look, I am only mandated by the Constitution to choose my deputies not my successor. We should leave that to the constitution. As a trained man as I am. How would I answer? I would say, yes sir! That is all.
“I thought that was the end of the issue. As far as I am concerned the President is a respectable man.” Minister Dube said the engagement on Tuesday should put a lid to the debate triggered by his comments in Bulawayo.
President Mugabe engaged Minister Dube after the Tuesday Cabinet meeting at Munhumutapa in Harare. He said President Mugabe had answered his concerns.
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“I do not want to dwell on that problem anymore. He has said the problem of choosing his successor lies with Congress. I have just put a full stop to that issue. I am not going to discuss it anymore because my Commander-in-Chief has said so. I do not want to appear like I am raising issues against him.”
The Chimene-led faction mobilised supporters from all provinces to demonstrate “in solidarity with President Mugabe”. Minister Dube dismissed the demonstrations as dubious. He said his comments were guided by his military background. The war veterans’ minister said his statements were not political.
He further dismissed calls to have him fired from Cabinet. Minister Dube said war veterans had the right to take an interest in what happens in Zimbabwe. He said war veterans were human and would be interested in the affairs of the country.
The minister also expressed doubt over Mlala’s war credentials. Secretary in the Ministry of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Brigadier General (Rtd) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi said his department was not worried by what Minister Dube said in Bulawayo.
“When the minister spoke in his constituency, Makokoba in Bulawayo, he was speaking as a politician, as a citizen and a commentator outside the protocol of the ministry.
“It is not that we have an interest in what he said. But we have an interest when a faction of the war veterans purports to speak on behalf of all war veterans,” he said.
Brig-General (Rtd) Tapfumaneyi said their interest was in the unity of war veterans. “Our main interest, the political interest, is for the war veterans to be united once again and not to be divided by those, who claim to follow Mandi Chimene or those who follow Mutsvangwa.
“We are one and we work well with the Government of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Speaking to journalists in Bulawayo at the weekend, Dube said while the former liberation war fighters were happy with Mugabe’s leadership and would want him to win next year’s elections, they cannot pretend as if there can never be a future without him.
“Sometimes people don’t understand them (war veterans); for instance when they said they are now looking at the future leadership. Some people think they mean to say they are being disloyal to our president, no not at all.
“We respect our president. He has done so much for this country. He has brought about land to the people who never had land. He has brought education to our nation but they are talking about the future.
“ . . . But we are saying we are very happy with our president we want him to win the next election but eventually he will decide to retire, we don’t know when but when that time comes that’s what the war veterans are saying,” said Dube.
“When they (war veterans) choose some of these people, it’s not because they are tired of our president, no, not at all, they are only misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be a president, if you want to be but it’s people who choose you, you can’t choose yourself.
“There is nothing wrong with talking about the succession. Succession is not a crime to talk about. This happens in every country.
“All the war veterans are saying is he (Mugabe) must groom the next leader, whatever happens, whether he retires or anything happens to him there is somebody we know.
“Otherwise it becomes very difficult for investors to put their money when they don’t know whether there is going to be another (Jean-Bédel) Bokassa (the former Central African Republic president) or Idi Amin (former Ugandan president) coming into Zimbabwe. They want to know who is coming; who is the next person so that when they put their money they know it’s safe,” he added. The Herald/Daily News