By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, February 23, 2016 – HAWKISH Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene, currently embroiled in a bitter war veterans leadership wrangle with Christopher Mutsvangwa, has vowed to defy a High Court ruling interdicting her from exercising any role as war veterans chief.
Mutsvangwa, who is also War Veterans Minister, was ousted as Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZLWVA) chairperson over a week ago by a group led by Chimene for allegedly undermining the first family, among a slew of offences.
The vote of no confidence passed against Mutsvangwa, wife Monica and two other executive members – Victor Matemadanda and Headman Moyo – ignited a territorial battle which spilled into the courts.
But the militant Provincial Minister said Monday she will not be deterred by the court interdict to fight for the cause of liberation fighters before counter accusing Mutsvangwa of witchcraft and abusing the courts to save his job.
“Since our times in the liberation struggle, we never went to court to seek positions,” Chimene said.
“So for Mutsvangwa to go to court to bar me from representing the interests of war veterans isn’t just malicious but a clear act of desperation.
“It further shows that there is something that they are benefiting from this position.”
Chimene went on to produce pictures of Mutsvangwa purportedly dining with whites she said were being pestered to sponsor war veterans by Mutsvangwa.
Ironically, the individuals were identified as also sponsoring opposition movements in the country.
“I want to make it clear that I will not be barred from working with war veterans by a High Court order. Is it the High Court that authorised me to fight in the liberation struggle? Do I need the High Court to verify whether I am a war veteran or not? So until a time when the High Court can approve who is or not a war veteran, only then can I abide by that order,” she charged.
Chimene said Mutsvangwa did not follow the same association’s constitution he was now trying to use against those challenging for his post when he kicked out former ZLWVA leader Jabulani Sibanda last year and to convene the elective congress in Masvingo.
“Did he follow the (ZLWVA) constitution when Sibanda was chucked out?” she said.
“What section of the constitution did he use to hold the Masvingo congress? For your own information, Mutsvangwa was not voted as the leader of war veterans in Masvingo.”
Chimene added that Mutsvangwa blocked war veteran elders from contesting for leadership positions only to allow Matemadanda, an elder, into the executive.
She further indicated that four women from Manicaland were nominated into the ZLWVA but Mutsvangwa, working in cahoots with Matemadanda, went on to co-opt the former’s wife, Monica through the back door.
The former intelligence operative said she gathered that Mutsvangwa used last Thursday’s unsanctioned meeting, in which war veterans were forcefully dispersed by police officers, as a launch pad to their sinister agenda to grab power.
“He knew what will happen, don’t be fooled. He knew exactly what will happen by calling war veterans to an unsanctioned meeting. He knew that the police will use its heavy hand. But he went on with it because he wanted to manipulate fellow comrades to advance his own agenda and this is what they are doing now.
“He doesn’t care about war veterans, he cares about his own ambitions,” said Chimene, who claimed that the War Veterans Minister was being used by a “political monger” who wants to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Though Chimene declined to name the political heavyweight, she said he was also behind the controversial 2004 Tsholotsho Declaration – a movement that allegedly wanted to use provincial chairpersons to challenge President Mugabe’s position.
Many would be quick to think of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is in the eye of the storm for allegedly trying to topple Mugabe.
Quizzed on who was the rightful leader of the association since President Mugabe Friday appeared to acknowledge Mutsvangwa as the chairperson when he made his State of the Nation Address, Chimene said they were yet to appraise their patron on recent developments, where she has been elected interim chair.
Turning to claims made against her person as belonging to an occult, Chimene said it was in fact Mutsvangwa who was into witchcraft.
She claimed that Mutsvangwa once called the Fallen Heroes Trust chief exhumer, one Chinyani asking for bones of a liberation war fighter which the former Zimbabwean ambassador to China allegedly wanted to use during a ritual meant to enhance his political own powers.