By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, November 16, 2016 – SELF-PROCLAIMED war veterans leader Mandiitawepi Chimene has turned to party rival and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to help authenticate her liberation war credentials which are being questioned by fellow comrades.
Chimene, who is also provincial affairs minister for Manicaland, belongs to a Zanu PF faction commonly referred to as Generation 40 (G40) which is locked in a fierce tussle for Zanu PF control with Mnangagwa’s so-called Team Lacoste ahead of 92 year old President Robert Mugabe’s much anticipated exit from national politics.
Since she tried to seize control of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) led by top Mnangagwa ally, Christopher Mutsvangwa, Chimene has been dismissed as an imposter.
Rivals say her bid to take over the reins of the pro-Zanu PF war veterans group were rather ambitious for someone who was said to be a mere “chimbwido” or “war collaborator.”
Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri, another Mnangagwa ally, was first to raise the issue during her fallout with Chimene last year.
But as many continue to dismiss her claims of being a genuine war veteran, the former intelligence officer has said Mnangagwa was best placed to validate her war credentials.
“I know people say I did not go to war, yes I know that is what you say about me. And For the sake of peace I will say yes, I didn’t,” Chimene said during an explosive war veterans meeting in Mutare last Saturday.
Chimene said she does not have to prove herself and would let VP Mnangagwa and Defense Minister Sydney Sekeremayi vouch for her since they were her referees when she was first vetted.
“Even though you say I did not go to war, my referees are Cde Sekeremayi and (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa. Those are the two comrades that I chose when I was requested to give referees (during vetting). They can vouch for me,” she said.
Chimene said she used to live at Sekeremayi’s house at Parirenyatwa Hospital when he was not around.
In other media reports, Chimene is on record indicating that she also used to live at an apartment rented by Mnangagwa, whom she said attended to her basic needs after the war.
Her unexpected plea to Mnangagwa has proved beyond doubt that there are no permanent enemies in politics considering that she has been on the forefront of villifying the VP whom she has accused of attempts to topple President Mugabe.