Saturday, July 23, 2016

Comment: This is Not the Way of the Soldier
July 23, 2016
Zimbabwe Herald

YESTERDAY the nation woke up to shocking news that the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, the body constituted to look into the welfare of former freedom fighters, had done the unthinkable: It had not only revoked the principles of the liberation struggle in addition to cutting ties with principal member and patron, President Mugabe, but had also joined the “Mugabe must go!” bandwagon.

All this through a statement released by a handful of ZNLWVA leaders, among them Francis Nhando and Victor Matemadanda.

Structured to read like the Mgagao Declaration of October 3, 1975 that saw the Zanu War Council (Dare ReChimurenga) renounce the quisling leadership of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole in favour of the militancy of then secretary general Cde Robert Mugabe, the statement went viral and was wildly cheered by the MDC-T and its appendages like #Tajamuka particularly as it claimed that war veterans will not campaign for zanu-pf at the next elections.

We were left wondering which party they will campaign for.

But rather than sound like a Second Mgagao Declaration, which was a reaffirmation of revolutionary principles, the statement attributed to the ZNLWVA was just a parody of the same, and along the discredited legacies of Thomas Nhari, Dzinashe Machingura, Rugare Gumbo and his Skyline Motel Group and of late Joice Mujuru who not only rebelled and deserted zanu-pf, but proceeded to join the opposition in fighting the party.

Indeed, couched as it was in the neo-liberal platitudes of freedom of association, speech, governance and constitutionalism, first domain rights that have come to define western-sponsored opposition groups in Zimbabwe, the statement was a virtual repudiation of the second domain rights that have always typified zanu-pf and its struggle for total independence.

This is why the statement was well received in opposition quarters, with MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai hailing “war veterans for finally seeing the light.”

Such praise from a man who prioritised his $15 Rhodesian wages to fighting for independent Zimbabwe should nauseate any sane war veteran.

We say “a statement attributed to” the ZNLWVA because we do not believe the statement mirrors the thinking of the generality of the association’s membership.

The language, style and emotion is reminiscent of one individual, the ever angry Christopher Mutsvangwa, who apparently took advantage of his chairmanship to imply a generalised position as there is no evidence that ZNLWVA members were consulted and identify with the statement.

Mutsvangwa is on record saying membership of zanu-pf had become “an albatross” around his neck, and we are left wondering if this view is shared by the generality of war veterans who must now draw a line between the fate of this troubled castaway and the interests of the association and its membership.

We see the mischief in the statement as a function of work left undone.

After Mutsvangwa’s expulsion from zanu-pf, the logical thing for the ZNLWVA leadership would have been to revert to the membership to seek a renewed mandate or reconfirmation of the executive.

This was not done, which means what was issued on Thursday is a statement attributed to an association that has not yet reconstituted its leadership, and as such cannot be deemed to speak for its membership.

There is need to avoid conflating the association with the bitterness of a few individuals. And in any case, zanu-pf did not expel the ZNLWVA but Mutsvangwa for constantly disloyalty among other transgressions.

It is hardly surprising that Mutsvangwa has turned to abusing the association structures to vent his bitterness.

To this end we urge the ZNLWVA rank and file to pronounce themselves. Are they with Mutsvangwa or are they still marching in step with their patron?

If, as we believe, they are still with their patron, then they need to show Mutsvangwa the door and convene an extra-ordinary indaba to reconfigure their leadership.

It is said the fly that had no adviser followed the corpse into the grave, it is our sincere hope that the ZNLWVA members are wiser than that proverbial fly and know that they have a platform to engage their patron.

Anything outside that is not the way of the trained soldier. It smacks of mischief and should not be touched with a 10-foot pole.

Francis NhandoVictor Matemadanda War Veterans Association Zanu-PFZNLWVA.

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