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Zanu PF's Chinotimba Attacks War Vets for Dumping Mugabe

FILE: Zimbabwean war veterans who had gathered to demonstrate against a faction within the ruling Zanu PF party, reportedly led by the First Lady Grace Mugabe, vent their anger after they were dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons in Harare, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zanu PF lawmaker and Member of Parliament for Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba, who is also a war veteran, says some former freedom fighters are now mobilizing themselves to counter moves by members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association to dump President Robert Mugabe.

Speaking on Studio 7 Livetalk on Friday, Chinotimba said the war veterans, who decided last Thursday to abandon President Mugabe ahead of the 2018 general election after accusing him of being a dictator and allegedly destroying Zimbabwe, were not the first to make such a declaration.

“People like (Victor) Matemadanda and (Douglas) Mahiya are not the first ones to do so. I wish to inform all war veterans that the meeting that was convened by Matematanda and others had no clear agenda.

“They were people who were just holding a meeting and appeared to be doing so just for the sake of it. There were no tangible agreements on this issue. There were no signatures in a communiqué they issued after the meeting and no specific provincial representatives that were part of it. By so doing, these people have expelled themselves from the war veterans association like what happened to (Margaret) Dongo (former Zanu PF member and independent lawmaker).”

Matematanda and Mahiya are the secretary general and spokesperson respectively of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.

Chinotimba said other war veterans are now mobilizing their base to counter moves by the Matematanda group to dump the president, whose party is riddled with factionalism pitting two factions allegedly led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe, said to be haboring presidential ambitions.

“These war veterans that you are talking about are just making noise like kids. We are strategists. War veterans are strategists. You heard (Thomas) Ngwenya (Livetalk guest) saying they are out of all this and noting that they (former Zipra combatants) are now Zapu and has nothing to do with what is happening in the war veterans association (and Zanu PF).

“People like (Max) Mnkandla (another Livetalk guest) have been crying and crying like babies for a long time and they did the same during the 2013 general elections … They have been crying like babies.”

Chinotimba, well-known as a Zanu PF hardliner and comedian, stressed that war veterans were expected to hold several provincial meetings, starting with Manicaland on Saturday.

“The war veterans are united and these (Matemadanda group) are just individuals (crying like babies). As I am speaking to you right now I am in Manicaland. I will be holding a big meeting with war veterans here and then go to Masholand East and then I will restore order in Mashonaland West, Midlands and other places. War veterans and President Mugabe are one. (President) Mugabe is a hero.”

He noted that when they received gratuities of $50,000 in the 1990s they had asked President Mugabe to address their problems. Some independent economists say Zimbabwe’s economic recession kicked in following these payouts, which some war veterans are unable to account for.

Mnkandla and Ngwenya dismissed Chinotimba’s claims saying he is allegedly part of the Zanu PF “gravy train”.

“Chinotimba has the right to say whatever he wants to say. What was said by the war veterans is a final decision. And it is pathetic for those war veterans who will say there were no signatures (on the communiqué). They (war veterans) are vetted individuals and they are known that they are war veterans (who dumped Mr. Mugabe).”

On the other hand, Ngwenya said the Zipra Freedom Fighters’ Association was not part of the resolutions made by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which mainly comprises former Zanla combatants.

“We are former Zipra combatants and we have nothing to do with this issue. We don’t even know what is happening in Zanu PF because we are not part of that organization. They elected (Mr.) Mugabe into power and now they have to deal with it their own way. Leave us out of all this as it is their (Chinotimba and other war veterans) problem.”

Zimbabwe’s former freedom fighters led by Christopher Mutsvangwa have been angered by Zanu PF’s move to expel Mutsvangwa and recall him from parliament after he allegedly undermined the authority of the president.

Mutsvangwa is aligned to a faction said to be led by Mnangagwa calling itself Team Lacoste, which wants him to succeed the 92 year-old Zimbabwean leader. The other faction – Generation 40 – is allegedly led by Mrs. Mugabe.