War Vets split kick-starts Zanu PF disintegration

HARARE – Joseph Chinotimba, the self-styled commander of the infamous farm invasions has declared that his organisation remains the only legitimate war veterans body as it comprises cadres from different political backgrounds

The bearded former Harare City Council (HCC) guard is the deputy leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) which is led by Jabulani Sibanda.

“We are a unified group representing all those who participated and contributed during the liberation struggle. I don’t understand it when someone says we need to be re-organised ,” said Chinotimba.

“Those who are calling for either  a new body or association are sick in the head. There is not going to be any other organisation because there is only one organisation that represents all the war veterans – that is the ZNLWVA, ” he declared.

Chinotimba lashed out at the Zipra War Veterans Trust which he said was pandering to the whims of former Zanu PF politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, who is now leading the revived ZAPU.

“They are an off shoot of ZAPU and Dabengwa. They are trying to be divisive but we won’t mind them. Others who are pressing for a new body only say this in the corridors of their barracks,”  Chinotimba said.

The combative Zanu PF loyalist fumed as plans by a yet unknown group within the ranks of the party are afoot  to  re-organise the group which is riddled with factionalism.

“The current confusion and conflict within war veterans is caused by politicians who want to use war veterans for personal political gain.

In a statement released under the banner of Zimbabwe National War Veterans Co-ordinating  Committee, the new group  said, “The new organisation will represent all war veterans regardless of their political affiliation by striving to improve their welfare, give them recognition, dignity and respect  for liberating and serving the country.”

Chinotimba and the  feisty Jabulani Sibanda have in the past traded barbs in their long drawn fight to control the ZNWLVA which critics say is split right in the middle because of divided loyalties to Vice President Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa are eyeing President Robert Mugabe’s job but have in the past distanced themselves from the factionalism rocking the group.

Sibanda is believed to be Mnangagwa’s blue eyed boy whilst Chinotimba’s colleagues say he belongs to the Mujuru faction.

The back bone of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, ZNLWVA does not recognise the existence of other bodies, including  the Zipra War Veterans Trust, and insist they are divisive and tribal.

But Mugabe, aware of the ructions that have been caused by infighting among  the former freedom fighters, insists that the splinter groups and ZNLWVA  should bury their differences and unite.

“Look at your history and examine where you are now. I appeal to you; get together and discuss your differences. We don’t want to speak to you as groups. We want to speak to you as a group,” said Mugabe on Heroes Day last year. “In the struggle, you were one. You are bound by the commitment to bring independence to your country.”

Combative and often restive, the war veterans have been  the pillar of Mugabe and Zanu PF’s strength in the last decade when  they helped the octogenarian leader and his ailing party maintain a loose grip on power.

In 2000, led by the late Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, the war veterans seized white commercial-owned farms and looted property worth millions of dollars after Mugabe had been rejected in a referendum for a new constitution.

In the same year, the former fighters orchestrated a violent election campaign against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai which almost knocked off Mugabe and Zanu PF from their perch. – Daily News