THE battle of wits between Zanu PF’s warring Generation 40 (G40) and Team Lacoste factions has resurfaced shortly after war veterans met President Robert Mugabe and asked him to crush the ambitious and youthful grouping (G40) believed to be fronted by First Lady Grace Mugabe.
This came as the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) claimed the meeting was hijacked and they were gagged not to freely make their contributions before Mugabe.
ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya told NewsDay their executive would soon demand a fresh meeting with War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube to assess what had happened during the indaba with Mugabe, which he said was hijacked by the technical team — composed mainly of serving military members.
“I was supposed to be the master of ceremony, but was told by the technical team that they would be in charge of the meeting. That is why they did not even acknowledge the war veterans’ association at a meeting that is meant to be a war veterans’ meeting,” Mahiya said.
“It was not the President who called for the meeting. It is us who forced the meeting after the aborted one, but no one even bothered to acknowledge us or (ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher) Mutsvangwa? Why? The meeting was hijacked by Zanu PF. We were disabled. We were not even acknowledged. The war vets did not run the show, but we appreciate the President’s promise that we will meet regularly.”
He added: “There was too much security at the meeting. We felt intimidated to express our views. Why so much security at a meeting of war veterans? We only wanted to talk to the President. We would have preferred a situation where war veterans posed direct questions to the President and he responds, than the thematic reports.”
At their crunch meeting held last Thursday, war veterans tabled several demands, among them the banning of party songs and slogans extolling Grace and removal of Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, claiming the post was a preserve for ex-liberation war fighters.
The former fighters claimed Kasukuwere was too junior, had no liberation war credentials and was a key member of the G40 faction whose agenda was to destroy Zanu PF from within.
But Kasukuwere’s G40 backers yesterday fought back, saying the Mt Darwin South legislator was not going anywhere, adding that the demands presented to Mugabe had been smuggled by the ZNLWVA executive to prop up Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Team Lacoste is reportedly sympathetic to Mnangagwa.
The rival war veterans group led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene said submissions, particularly on the roles of Kasukuwere, did not represent what the ex-combatants had said in thematic committees ahead of the Thursday meeting.
The group also distanced themselves from ever making a contribution that sought to bar songs and slogans extolling Grace, saying the presentations did not represent what they raised during the thematic committee meetings.
“As war veterans, we don’t have those powers to dictate to the President who he should work with.
Kasukuwere was appointed by the President and as ex-combatants we don’t have powers to recall him,” war veterans lands secretary George Matenda, who sympathises with Chimene’s group, said.
“Upon returning from Japan recently, the President said it clearly at the airport that war veterans should not involve themselves in such matters. You can also see that from our Thursday meeting, Mahiya, (war veterans’ secretary-general Victor) Matemadanda and Mutsvangwa wrote the presentations by themselves.”
Matenda added: “We didn’t discuss some of the things that were presented at the meeting.
Kasukuwere is not part of the war veterans, so he is not part of the welfare issues we were discussing and which need to be attended to. We are not part of the call to dismiss Kasukuwere and we focus on our problems.”
On the slogans issue, Matenda queried why those denouncing slogans showering praises to Grace were silent during the time when bootlicking was done on Mnangagwa and former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
He said the slogans were simply meant to appreciate Grace’s work and wondered why the ZNLWVA executive was reacting in that manner.
However, Mahiya denied that the ZNLWVA executive had smuggled the presentations, saying they were actually blocked from saying all they intended by the technical team and the heavy security at the meeting.
“It was actually G40 that smuggled some presentations. For example, I was in the welfare thematic meeting. The paper that was presented was not the one we produced. I actually raised objections, but no one listened to me,” Mahiya said.
“I actually saw the one that was smuggled. In fact, the person who presented disappeared briefly before he made the presentation; that is possibly where he had gone to take the smuggled paper that left out many of the demands we had made.”
He said except for the welfare committee, other thematic presentations reflected the deliberations made by war veterans, and emphasising the issue of Kasukuwere was one of the critical issues raised.
Mahiya said war veterans tried to include thematic committees on corruption and land barons, but were forced to remove them at the 11th hour by the technical team.
“We were blocked by the technical team to raise the issue of corruption. There are a lot of people who are joining Zanu PF to use the name for corrupt activities and amassing land. That’s why others are building 50-roomed houses, is it a hotel? Where did they get the money?”
A key G40 member who requested anonymity told NewsDay that most of the disciplinary cases were not concluded deliberately at the politburo meeting a day earlier to allow the war veterans indaba to proceed well, but the axe would fall on them in the next meeting.