Former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda yesterday vowed he will make sure President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF lose the 2018 election.
This came as war veterans were reportedly plotting to doorstep and remove Mugabe as their patron at their next meeting, accusing the veteran politician of failing to represent their interests.
Commenting on the alleged plot to remove Mugabe as war veterans’ patron, Sibanda said: “I don’t have a patron; I am my own patron. Why don’t you ask (Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairman Christopher) Mutsvangwa? The patron of the war veterans is the President; he is the one who fired me.
“If I want to remove him, I won’t do a hatchet job, I will make sure he is also removed as President. In fact, I will make sure that Zanu PF loses in the next elections.”
According to well-placed sources in the war veterans’ camp, the freedom fighters were pushing for an urgent meeting with the veteran politician, where they will tell him they no longer had confidence in his leadership following the relentless attacks by him and his wife First Lady Grace Mugabe on war veterans.
The sources said the war veterans, most of them sympathetic to a faction led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, were also angered by the attack on the VP in the same manner former Vice-President Joice Mujuru was hounded out of the governing party and government before the December 2014 congress.
“The majority of the war veterans are miffed by what’s going on in the party, especially the unwarranted attacks directed at them especially those coming from the President and his wife,” the source, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals, said. The sources also refused to disclose much detail about the “plot” for fear of scuttling their meeting with Mugabe.
But Mutsvangwa yesterday distanced himself from the alleged plot, claiming it was a falsehood peddled by the Generation 40 (G40) faction to “frighten” Mugabe from meeting the war veterans.
“It’s a malicious concoction of G40,who thrive on falsehoods,” Mutsvangwa said.
“G40 wants to frighten His Excellency, the patron, out of meeting his fellow war veterans. Are they now holding him prisoner away from his own life? War veterans are one and the same with Zanu PF. No amount of calumny by Johnnie-come-latelys will ever make me leave the revolutionary party. G40 wartime deserters are now using scarecrows to portray genuine cadres as apostates.”
Mutsvangwa said G40 was a “post-Rhodesian imperial project against war veterans” and he was determined to close ranks with war veterans.
“Yes, indeed. That is why I had a meeting with Jabulani Sibanda. G40 is a post-Rhodesian imperial project against war veterans, their traditional enemy, who deposed their racist colonial order,” he added.
The war veterans were due to have a meeting last month, but it was violently crushed by the police, who said the freedom fighters had not been sanctioned to hold the meeting.
In the aftermath of the abortive meeting, Mutsvangwa was slapped with a three-month suspension from the party and fired from Cabinet.
Mutsvangwa, who was instrumental in the ouster of his predecessor Sibanda, has of late teamed up with him and at the weekend they jointly addressed an ex-combatants’ meeting in Bulawayo.
About his meeting with Sibanda, Mutsvangwa said: “Old war veterans are allowed to share their past, compare notes and map out scenarios. I was sure not the first to hobnob with Sibanda. G40 rushed to cajole him against me. But kisses go by favour. They (G40 kingpins) can only gulp the fury of the scorned. You just can’t buy a tempered war veteran on the cheap of the patronage, he begot the nation.”
He added: “I am determined to close war veterans’ ranks. There are concerted efforts within and without the party to marginalise and politically disenfranchise them. G40, by its nomenclature, is discriminatory and targets G60 and 50 who have revolutionary ethos.”
Referring to the proposed meeting between war veterans and Mugabe, Mutsvangwa said: “The meeting of war veterans and their patron will be held under the auspices of War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube and politburo war veterans’ secretary Sydney Sekeramayi.”