Mujuru's faction wrestles control of War Veterans from Mnangagwa

Members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association aligned to General Solomon Mujuru are pressing ahead with the national conference to elect new executive members this weekend despite pleas from the current executive to defer the conference to next year.

The last national conference was held in 2002.

According to the organisation’s constitution, a new executive was supposed to be elected in 2005.

The leader of the organising committee which is co-ordinating the elections Retired Colonel Basten Beta said the conference would, among other issues, correct constitutional anomalies, which had resulted in the current executive serving more terms than stipulated in the constitution.

He said the major task awaiting the new executive was to revamp the organisation to ensure that it catered for the welfare of war veterans.

"There were a lot of constitutional violations and we hope to correct those anomalies at this conference.

The constitution is clear that a leader should serve for not more than two terms, but some leaders have already exceeded their terms. We want to elect leaders who look into the welfare of war veterans," said Rtd Col Beta.

He said it was expected that the new chairperson would come from the former Zanla side because the last two chairpersons were from the Zipra camp.

"The last two chairpersons Chenjerai Hunzvi and Jabulani Sibanda were from the former Zipra and we hope that the new chairman should come from the Zanla side," said Rtd Col Beta.

Deputy chairperson of the current executive Joseph Chinotimba confirmed the elections but said they had pleaded with the war veterans to put the elections on hold until early next year.

"We heard that there is an election on Saturday, but we have asked the war veterans to postpone the elections to January next year.

"A lot of preparations need to be done before the elections but of course some members are complaining that we are overdue. The best person you can talk to on that issue is Jabulani Sibanda," said Chinotimba.

Jabulani Sibanda is said to be behind the killing of opposition supporters in the run up to the aborted presidential run-off elections.

In 2003, he was demoted amid allegations of organising and attending a rebel meeting dubbed the “Tsholotsho Dinyane Indaba” that produced the Tsholotsho Declaration.

The meeting organise by Jonathan Moyo and funded by the rogue Zimbabwean businessman Billy Rautenbach had the intended purpose of backing Emerson Mnangagwa, who was supposedly being put forward by the group for the vice presidency against President Mugabe’s choice, Joice Mujuru.

Jabulani Sibanda and Jonathan Moyo were ejected from Zanu (PF) and six provincial Zanu (PF) chairmen lost their posts, accused of of bringing the ruling party into disrepute.

Under the influence of Robert Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sibanda bounced back mysteriously as leader of the War Vets Association despite resistance from other Zanu PF leaders and in 2007, he organised a match by Zimbabwean war veterans in Harare dubbed a "million-man march" in support of Robert Mugabe’s bid to extend his despotic rule despite a severe economic crisis blamed on his government.

At the time, Jabulani Sibanda told state media that the "one million-men and women march" was meant to demonstrate that Mugabe, enjoyed solid support despite Western powers’ opposition to his rule.

"Comrade Mugabe is our leader, and we are prepared to wage another war to defend his leadership and our sovereign right to choose our own revolutionary leader," he said.

In the nominations for the Zanu PF congress scheduled for December, the resurgent faction led by retired army commander Solomon Mujuru has crushed and decimated the rival faction headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa, leaving the party under severe strain.

This followed a dramatic battle for power two weeks ago which is likely to claim high-profile political casualties ahead of the party’s congress next month. The vicious political episode could mark the beginning of the disintegration of the party along its regional and ethnic fault lines, with Mnangagwa cluthing at Masvingo and Midlands province and unelecteable people like Patrick Chinamasa for Manicaland.

Mujuru faction heavily defeated the Mnangagwa camp during the party’s nominations for a new leadership to be endorsed at congress after a bruising battle across the country that left political careers damaged or ruined.

The latest move to re-claim the control of the War Veterans association is the last nail in the coffin for Emmerson Mnangagwa who in the last two weeks has addressed as many public meetings with the Army and the Airforce officers to show up his wanning power.

Meanwhile, a source in the Zanu PF politburo has told our reporter that Emmerson Mnangagwa and a few of his disgruntled faithful are planning to break away party from Zanu PF in the coming year.   

The source said a plan authored by Jonathan Moyo has the convention of the first Congress scheduled for September 2010.

A 300 page document shown to our reporter has details of parallel structures that will emerge within Zanu PF after its congress in December, this year.

The document touches on a wide range of issues, from possible sources of funding, recruitment of leading figures in business and current opposition parties, and it touches on support from abroad.

Mnangagwa forced the readmission of Jonathan Moyo into Zanu PF for this project, but the impact of their losses to the Mujuru faction has send shock waves with some of their supporters reconsidering their tactics.