ZIMBABWE National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa and his top executive face off with President Robert Mugabe at the second war veterans’ indaba scheduled for next month.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube yesterday told NewsDay that his ministry would invite Mutsvangwa and his leadership for the indaba, which insiders said was likely to be explosive.
“We recognise the leadership which was elected in Masvingo, which includes the chairman Mutsvangwa and (spokesperson Mandiitawepi) Chimene. These people will be invited to meet the President at the indaba,” Dube said.
“We will also invite other war veterans from other organisations regardless of their political affiliations or beliefs because this is a war veterans’ indaba.”
The parties last met in April last year, where war veterans accused the government of neglecting them and failing to improve their welfare.
The frosty relationship between Mugabe and war veterans took a nosedive four months later, when the ex-freedom fighters wrote a damning communiqué calling on him to step down and labelling him as “genocidal and a dictator”.
Mugabe reacted to the rejection with fury and ordered a crackdown on ZNLWVA leaders, culminating in the summary expulsion of Mutsvangwa, his deputy Headman Moyo, secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, spokesperson Douglas Mahiya and political commissar Francis Nhando from Zanu PF.
Insiders forecast that next month’s indaba would be explosive, with angry war veterans accusing Mugabe of neglecting their welfare — particularly on government’s seeming reluctance to review the former fighters’ monthly allowances and non-payment of their children’s school fees.
“The indaba is going to be explosive and ministry officials are aware of it. This is why they have been trying to have pre-indaba meetings to pacify the angry war veterans, who feel Mugabe wants to use them ahead of 2018,” a source claimed.
Dube acknowledged the crisis faced by his ministry, as they try to meet the needs of the war veterans, blaming shortage of resources.
“We understand the challenges and concerns by the war veterans and we are making efforts to pay fees even before the indaba. It’s not like the government does not want to take care of them, the President is committed to their welfare,” he said.
The ministry was still working on the budget for the indaba to be held by mid-June depending on Mugabe’s schedule.
“We are working on the budget and might consider having our members stay in schools to cut on accommodation costs and also the numbers might have to come down,” he said.
During the last indaba, war veterans blew $2,4 million for a three-hour meeting with Mugabe at the City Sports Centre.
War Veteran ministry permanent secretary Walter Tapfumaneyi said most of the logistics were now in place and his team was now waiting to be given a date by Mugabe’s office.
“We are waiting for a date from the President and, depending on his availability, we will be having the indaba. The meeting might happen from mid-June to end of June because the President said he would meet the war veterans once a year,” he said.