By Jeffrey Muvundusi
The infighting over President Robert Mugabe’s succession has widened divisions among the country’s boisterous liberation war fighters, with high-profile war veterans — Tshinga Dube and George Mlala — escalating their tiff this week.
Of late, Dube — the War Veterans minister — has been trading tirades with Mlala, who belongs to a faction of the ex-guerrilla war fighters that is battling for the control of the main Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), led by Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Mlala and his faction of the war veterans, led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, were barred by the courts from masquerading as leaders of the ZNLWVA after they had passed a vote of no confidence in its leadership.
Regardless, they have been exchanging harsh words with the ZNLWVA’s leadership, which they accuse of undermining Mugabe’s authority.
Mutsvangwa and his executive have not made it a secret that they prefer one of Mugabe’s deputies, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to succeed the Zanu PF leader in the event that he retires from active politics.
They have even removed Mugabe as patron of the association.
Dube, as the War Veterans minister, has been dragged into the imbroglio.
Initially, Dube had attempted to bring the warring factions together, but when that failed, he began to speak out strongly against Mlala and Chimene for not recognising Mutsvangwa as the legitimate leader of ZNLWVA.
He is now being seen by Mlala’s grouping as backing Mutsvangwa’s leadership of the ZNLWVA and, by extension, in support of Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
Mlala is now threatening to sue Dube for accusing him of externalising funds, a serious offence under the country’s exchange control regulations.
Dube accused Mlala of externalisation during a meeting at his Makokoba constituency last weekend, where he was addressing former freedom fighters, challenging Mlala to sue him, if he was disputing the accusation.
“There is a big man here called Mlala. He wants me fired from being a minister . . . Mlala has given himself power to expel me (but) he doesn’t have that power,” Dube told the gathering.
He alleged that Mlala was conniving with a company owned by a national from Pakistan to externalise funds totalling about $6 million in 2014.
Dube said the duo would import rotten foodstuffs; preserve them using dangerous and cancerous chemicals and repackage them before reselling the products at cheap prices. The proceeds, he alleged, were then externalised.
“That’s where our money is being taken. I can say a lot about this but they were also dealing with street foreign currency dealers. At one point they brought seven 30-tonne trucks carrying cooking oil, they ran away from Zimra without paying anything at customs.”
Zimra is the acronym for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, government’s tax-collecting arm.
This has not gone down well with Mlala, who now wants to haul the War Veterans minister to court.
“I will definitely do that (sue Dube),” Mlala told the Southern News.
“I will take him to court. I want him to show me the evidence. Tshinga is sick, what is it that he is saying? If he has evidence it’s good and the Pakistan he is talking about is alive, he will be there to be the witness in court,” he fumed.
Mlala questioned Dube’s motive of preferring to say such at a Makokoba rally, yet he was well positioned to know the procedures of handling issues to do with crime.
“Honestly, if he knows of such crimes, he should have made a police report instead of saying this at a rally, and investigations would have been done, not this nonsense, he is talking about,” he said.
“I am wondering if the rally was all about externalisation of money or what, because he should talk to me about war veterans’ issues and not about Pakistanis.
“Tshinga is now desperate because of his recent utterances that we are strongly opposed to, so he is trying to cover his back,” he said.
Dube and Mlala’s row escalated after the War Veterans’ minister suggested that Mugabe names a successor to avoid possible chaos in the event of his death or retirement, while he also backed ex-liberation fighters who were making the same demands.
“The people that he is supporting were expelled from the party and, as you know, as the war veterans association we are affiliated to the party, so when he associates himself with Mutsvangwa and company it means he has defected.
“As a result, if he wants to talk about the association as a minister, he should step down first because he is biased and he can’t represent the wishes and needs of the former liberators. He is not fit to run that ministry because he is causing unnecessary confusion,” Mlala said.
Mlala and his group have also come under attack from their rivals for staging demonstrations against Dube.
Their rivals have been alleging that the demonstration staged in Harare was sponsored by Gweru businesswoman Smelly Dube who denies the allegations.
Turning to the allegation that the Gweru businesswoman sponsored the demonstrations against Dube, Mlala said: “ . . . where does she come in in all this, what has it to do with the association . . . and he should know that when we went to Harare for a solidarity meeting we went there as an association, which is affiliated to Zanu PF”.
He also refuted claims that they hired goons to pose as war veterans during the demonstrations.
Mlala, however, warned Dube that he should not forget that his camp will continue with their meetings in the remaining eight provinces.
I’m no pushover — Masuku
Zanu PF senator Angeline Masuku, whose suspension from the party was lifted recently, opened up this week, saying she has an impeccable history hence she could not easily be thrown out of the ruling party.
The former Matabeleland South governor was a victim of the party’s factionalism after she was suspended, along with 18 other members for attending a war veterans meeting addressed by Christopher Mutsvangwa and Jabulani Sibanda in March last year.
She insisted that her suspension was null and void, adding she was still part of Zanu PF and working tirelessly for the party.
“Let me correct one thing, I was not suspended,” Masuku said.
“I have always been there . . . there is nobody who can build Zanu PF except us. It is us who can correct whatever mistakes. We discuss these things and we correct ourselves.”
Masuku said despite the plot to destroy her political career by some nemesis in the party, she knew she would survive.
“I am feeling the same. I never changed or have a different feeling because I was innocent, I was innocent and I will remain innocent.”
Masuku reminded those allegedly behind her suspension that she was no minnow in the former revolutionary party.
“If you can recall in 1987 when unity between Zanu PF and PF Zapu by President Robert Mugabe and the late VP Joshua Nkomo, there was a high-powered committee to do the integration exercise from two parties. Five people from Zanu and five from Zapu and I am the survivor from those five people from Zapu.
“Remember I was with (Welshaman) Mabhena, Kotso Dube, Cyril Ndebele, George Marange and they are all late. And I am the only survivor among those who did the integration, which is the building of Zanu PF.”
As a result, she questioned the “wisdom” of her nemesis.
“How on earth can someone wake up to say I am suspending you from the party? That is why I am saying I was not suspended . . .,” she said.
“ . . . somebody who was not even there when that house (Zanu PF) was built and some of those were not even politically born at that time when we were building Zanu PF”.
“I sympathise with those people who think they can destroy Zanu-PF where there are people who took their time, energy and everything to build Zanu PF and they think that they can destroy it. Not when we are there, I am sorry,” she said.
While many expected her to respond to the allegations that led to her suspension, Masuku said “as a mature person I was quiet, I never said anything, I never retaliated, I knew that this will come to an end and there would be order”.
She said while infighting was common in the party, expelling each other was not the solution.
Masuku, however, said she was confident that Zanu PF was going to win the 2018 elections.
“The unity agreement was signed by two of our elders and we were just sent to go and build and . . . I was part of that. I am still privy to say that as one of those who are still surviving I still stand firm to say Zanu PF is the only party in Zimbabwe that can take people’s problems.”
Parly asks Govt to assume NRZ debt
Government must assume the $90 million debt owed to National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employees by end of September this year, a parliamentary portfolio committee has said.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport said government needed to move on the debt and help the ailing railways company — which has a debt overhang of over $170 million — attract an investor.
“Government must take over or, at the very least, guarantee the debt owed to employees if NRZ is to attract a serious private investor. This should be done by September 30, 2017,” the Dexter Nduna-chaired committee said in the first draft of its strategic turnaround document for NRZ recently presented to parliament.
If government decides to take the committee up on its recommendation, NRZ will join a long list of poorly performing State-owned enterprises whose debt is being housed by treasury in a window-dressing move aimed at cleaning balance sheets.
Presently, out of a fleet of 166 locomotives, only 60 patently unreliable locomotives are operational at NRZ.
“The average age of the said locomotives is between 33 and 50 years whereas a locomotive has a useful lifespan of only 25 years;
“Out of a total of 7 153 wagons, 3 641 have been decommissioned for various defects, leaving only 3 512 in service.
“Out of a fleet of 283 passenger coaches, only 108 are in use and these are in a deplorable state,” the committee said.
The committee also called on government to waiver import duty for NRZ fuel imports.
“Government needs to immediately remove duty on fuel meant for NRZ local motives but put stringent monitoring measures to avert and make sure there is no abuse by end of July 2017,” the turnaround paper said.
Noting that the Transport ministry needed to expedite enactment of legislation banning transportation of chrome ore, among other bulk goods, using road transport, Nduna’s committee pointed that government also needed to ring- fence traffic to rail channels.
According to the report, the ailing parastatals anticipates to transport freight tonnes amounting to $3,5 million, an improvement of about 30 percent from the $2,7 million realised in 2016.
“This positive difference was attributed to the long haul nature of some of the freight that was to be transported.
“In terms of the passengers, NRZ is targeting to move 387 000 passengers against the 287 000 that were transported in 2016. This would translate to a 34 percent improvement in passenger transportation in 2017…While management foresees an improvement in passenger movement in 2017, there are no concomitant initiatives taken by the organisation to lure passengers to use rail transport instead of road transport. The committee could not ascertain the basis of this confident projection given the stiff competition in the road transport industry at the moment,” the committee said.
In terms of revenue generation, NRZ projects revenue to be generated from both freight and passengers this year will be $87 million.
If achieved, this would be a 32 percent increase from the $66 million raised in 2016.
“NRZ had transported 372 000 metric tonnes of grain from the projected harvest of 700 000 metric tonnes in 2016.
“In 2017, they were targeting to transport 300 000 metric tonnes within the first six months of the year. However, the revenue generated from the transportation of grain was not provided at the time of the enquiry,” the report said.
Nduna’s committee also said the firm’s board needed to actively pursue mineral claims resident in South Africa as they could provide an important source of leverage in sourcing funding.
“The committee observed that NRZ is not actively following up on the mineral claims held in South Africa which provide an alternative source of much- needed revenue for the entity. Given the challenges NRZ is facing, the lackadaisical attitude towards this critical resource is incomprehensible.
“Immediately a committee should be set up by the Transport and Infrastructural Development minister to pursue this game changer by December 2017,” the committee said.
The firm anticipates to raise the much- needed revenue through selling scrap metals which reportedly earned the organisation about $2,5 million in 2016.
Town clerk gives up on mining
Town clerk Christopher Dube has given up on his bid to mine gold on the local authority’s Aisleby Farm after he was frustrated by the city’s fathers.
According to the latest council report, Dube wanted to extract the precious mineral at the farm on the outskirts of the second city, measuring 500 by 200 metres.
In his application, the town clerk said he had explored the land and discovered that it was rich in gold deposits.
“I am applying for a no objection or authority to carry out mining activities at the…farm. I have already done a miner survey which indicates that the area is rich in gold deposits…it is a requirement from the Mines ministry to get authority from council I am also employed,” read his application in part.
However, a full council meeting turned down the application arguing that the mining activity, if ever it was to take place, should benefit the local authority and not an individual.
Speaking to the Daily News this week, Dube said he was unfazed by the decision, as they were many other mining options.
“…I am now looking for other places to mine,” Dube said.
“Of course, there is a new council resolution which says people can start to apply for allocation of mining concessions just as they do with land allocation. However, I can’t now apply for it after a month or so of having been turned down, so I will have to look elsewhere,” he said.
Councillors reportedly agreed to venture into mining and take advantage of gold deposits on its properties, instead of letting illegal gold panners plunder it.
The former Victoria Falls town clerk was appointed to the post last year, replacing former clerk, Middleton Nyoni, who succumbed to cancer in 2015.
Address Gukurahundi issue, Mphoko told
Traditional leaders in Matabeleland have called on Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko to step up efforts in addressing the emotive and unresolved Gukurahundi issue.
Mphoko — who is in charge of the Reconciliation ministry — recently officiated at a programme, which was launched in Matabeleland North and South provinces, to facilitate the issuance of identity documents to surviving members of Gukurahundi victims.
Chief Siphoso hailed the programme, but with reservations.
“The programme . . . is good in the sense that it has allowed many who previously had no birth certificates and death certificates, but I know that there is still a lot that should be done in terms of reconciliation,” he told Mphoko.
He said many had borne the brunt of living without the necessary documents for decades.
“It’s sad that the population of those people without identity cards was growing because since 1984, nothing was done to correct this,” he said, adding “you will realise that many children were born but they could not get that because their parents had none or there were no death certificates”.
Siphoso said issuing birth certificates was not enough.
“It’s not enough. There is still need for relevant stakeholders to discuss the matter further. In fact, the VP should go a step further and try and resolve some of these outstanding issues,” he said.
Chief Mathema weighed in saying the Gukurahundi victims really deserved “peace of mind” and closure.
“The truth of the matter is the victims really deserve such documents because it’s their right,” Mathema told the Daily News.
“The government must actually make it easy for the affected people to acquire all the documents and stop asking too many question.”
Mathema challenged the government to consider taking the issue of Gukurahundi seriously.
“ . . . in case of death certificates, it should be clear and recorded right on the death certificate that someone was killed by Gukurahundi, because it’s no longer a secret that people died, so the records should be straight forward. Why should we hide?” he queried.
“ . . . we need to go further, people need compensation and there should be a way of addressing this whole issue,” he said.
Chief Nyangazonke called for decentralisation of the process.
“It’s a good initiative now that people are now going to have documents so that we kill this thing of being stateless,” said Nyangazonke, adding that “but we are saying let the message be sent to everybody and many centres should be created, such that we avoid a situation where people have to walk long distances to get the service”.
He said there was a shocking number of people in need of identification documents.
Asked whether the issuance of certificates alone was sufficient in as far as addressing the Gukurahundi matter the chief said: “Let it not stop there, and we might say move further in trying to address what people might be complaining about.”
Chief Mabhikwa described the initiative as a noble one as it will go a long way in assisting the affected population in Matabeleland.
“ . . . we have seen many of them struggling to access the birth and national identity cards and this has grossly affected their lives some can’t even get employed among other challenges,” he said.
“The launch is a noble initiative; it will also allow those who are not registered voters to vote for the first time. But my request is the government should try to decentralise this process and ensure that it’s brought closer to the people as possible.”
Of Ndebele kingdom restoration, secession
Since the formation of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) in 2010, there has been serious talk for secession of Matabeleland from Zimbabwe.
While the chorus is getting louder, beneath are low voices of the Khumalos (King Mzilikazi clan), who strongly feel that there was need for revival of the Ndebele kingdom.
Lately, there have been calls from another secessionist political formation, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), and from the self-imposed new Ndebele king, Stanley Tshuma, that there is need for self-governance.
While addressing the gathering over the weekend at Large City Hall, Tshuma declared that Matabeleland region would now be referred to as Mthwakazi kingdom.
Tshuma went as far as unveiling a new Mthwakazi flag and announced September 12 as the day of his coronation.
“Mthwakazi is a kingdom, not a republic. All agreements to incorporate it into Mashonaland are null and void,” Tshuma said.
However, Tshuma’s calls augur well with MRP, whose ideology is along same lines.
“We are fully convinced that the installation of a king is also key to our quest for self-determination, hence our support for the Khumalo family and the chiefs’ resolve to announce the heir to the throne in August,” MRP president Mqondisi Moyo told the Daily News.
“This is the practicality of what we are doing, it won’t be long before we got our independence, and all we need is unity of purpose as different stakeholders,” he said.
Political analyst Gifford Sibanda yesterday laid into the whole Mthwakazi initiative saying it was not only illegal but not practical.
“The issue of secession is borne out of anger due to the failure by Zanu PF to unite the nation after independence. But besides secession is not possible without bloodshed, there is no way Zanu PF can be forced to cut the nation without a fight,” Sibanda told the Daily News.
“Above that the issue of secession has no takers because organisation like the African Union have indicated that they only support colonial borders, so it makes their (MRP) mission impossible,” he said.
Turning to the Ndebele kingdom, Sibanda said the whole issue is now based on factionalism; there is no more sincerity in the push as it’s now more of a family fight for a dynasty.
“The Ndebele kingdom issue will not work because the Zimbabwean Constitution does not recognise monarchs but traditional chiefs. In other words, his (Tshuma’s) influence cannot be enforced at law. In any case, his coronation will not have an impact therefore it will be as good as useless.”
Amakhosi Cultural Centre founder Cont Mhlanga, however, railed at both those seeking the Ndebele kingdom and those pushing for secession that they should understand the legal implications of what they are doing.
“The problem with people of Matabeleland is they use emotions in their push sometimes for genuine things,” Mhlanga told the Daily News.
“You know when you use emotions even your reasoning declines. What I am saying here is the people who are talking about the Ndebele Kingdom today missed their chance to talk about that in 2013 during the Constitution-making programme. They could have raised that during that time and ensured that the issue of kingdoms was included in the Constitution.
“Surprisingly, the same people who are talking about kingdom now were busy advocating devolution and forgot that they want a king.
“So basically, from my take (President Robert) Mugabe is very kind, because these people are sitting on treason of the highest order.”
SA socialite Zodwa Wabantu dates Byo
South African socialite Zodwa Wabantu (32), who stole the show at the Durban July with a thigh-baring outfit, will make an appearance at Club Connect in Bulawayo on Saturday, July 29.
Since the 32-year-old strutted her stuff in the black figure-hugging dress, the dancer, socialite and MC has attracted a lot of press coverage in South Africa and beyond.
In an interview with the Sowetan newspaper, Zodwa defended the controversial outfit.
“The inspiration behind it is that I wanted to be sexy and bold,” Zodwa explained. “I wanted to show I don’t really wear a panty. In the photos, my cellulite is clearly visible; I wanted to show women we don’t have to hide what we are.”
The Soweto-born sociate, whose real name is Zodwa Rebecca Libram, started off as a collection agent at a debt collecting company but left the job after her socialite status took off.
For an appearance and MC duties, the mother of an 11-year-old son charges between R10 000 and R15 000. Daily News