War vets threaten court battles
By Andrew Kunambura
War veterans have declared that they would soon take their grievances to the courts, now that their perceived ally Vice President (VP) Emmerson Mnangagwa is no longer Justice minister.
Mnangagwa, who has been under fierce attack from the rival Generation (G40) Zanu PF faction allegedly fronted by President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, was removed as Justice minister following a Cabinet reshuffle last week.
Christopher Mutsvangwa has openly backed Mnangagwa — who had been doubling up as VP and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister — arguing he is 93-year-old Mugabe’s heir apparent.
But since storming onto the political arena in 2014, Grace has amassed a lot of power, and is now leading the onslaught against Mnangagwa, whom she has publicly described as a nonentity who was employed by her husband.
She has also publicly declared her detest for the VP, her husband’s long-time political ally — allegedly leading the rival Team Lacoste faction — and wants him expelled from the party in the same manner his predecessor, Joice Mujuru, was in 2014.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Tuesday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) leader, Mutsvangwa, said Mugabe’s Cabinet reshuffle had encouraged the ex-freedom fighters to approach the courts “to save Zimbabwe’ democracy which is under serious threat from G40”.
ZNLWA’s entire leadership was shown the door by Zanu PF for siding with Mnangagwa, who was replaced by former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss Happyton Bonyongwe following the reshuffle on Monday.
The resilient war veterans were particularly irked by Grace’s statements at a youth meeting on Friday last week, where she said Mnangagwa was a nobody.
“We were accused that we were being biased towards the VP and because he was the minister of Justice, we could not take our issues to the courts out of discretion because we were afraid that when we go there, they would say they are going to their own man,” Mutsvangwa said.
“There is new ad hoc arrangement where meetings are being called up, like what happened last Friday, which has become another instrument to attack the VP, the army and the war veterans.
“There are institutions cropping up from everywhere, formed by the G40 because they have got a purpose,” said Mutsvangwa.
“The president knows the constitution of the country, he has said he is a lawyer, please let us use the constitution to address issues. The tendency to use rallies and ad hoc arrangements does not befit a 93-year-old head of State who became an icon by making the rule of law the centrepiece of Zimbabwe. He should go back to the rule of law.
“He has allowed himself to be embarrassed by going to an ad hoc arrangement where there is a whole litany of things which he is being prescribed to do by G40 people and then you have the same head of State coming to deny those things, how do you run a modern country like that comrade president?
“He has had to debunk to say he does not belong to the hate parades.
“There is nowhere in the Constitution where it says there is a position of the first lady, there is nowhere in the Constitution where there is the position of the first family.
When we went to the front to fight, we were not fighting for the first family, why is this new invention called the first family being thrust upon us by the G40?
It is an instrument to try usurp power, we will not accept that usurpation of power using things which do not exist in the Constitution,” he said.
“The beauty now is that we want to take challenges about the extra-constitutional behaviour of the G40. We are now going to, we do hope that the G40 will live to the test of legality by accepting to go and defend their actions before the judges of Zimbabwe because State is a constitutional state.
“All the things which the G40 have been doing, we now want them to be tested before courts of the land. So the G40, get ready, we will be taking you to the courts and now there is no prospect of saying we are going there because Mnangagwa is the minister of Justice.
“Watch this space, there will be a lot of play at the courts with the G40, all their conduct henceforth, we will be subjecting it to the scrutiny of the judges. We want a democracy which can be tested by the erudite legal minds of the country which have been entrusted with that job by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Mutsvangwa went on: “We are very legal as war veterans. We are the ones who brought the constitution in the country. Before Zanla and Zipra forces agreed to go to a constitutional conference (in London in 1979), there is no guerrilla army which had agreed to go to the ballot, they said power comes from the barrel of the gun, they said we shoot our way to power.
That’s what the Chinese did, that’s what the Cubans did, that’s what the Mozambicans and Algerians did. But we were confident and ultramodern that we accepted that even if we are militarily on the verge of victory, we are prepared to go to elections.”
“We spiced military victory with electoral victory, so we have a very proud history of democracy as war veterans in this country and we are saying the democratic space being constantly tested by the G40, they want to be puschists, they want generals fired at a rally, they want vice presidents to be fired in midnight cabal meetings and caucuses, they want the youth caucus to discuss the leadership of the country.”