Sunday, July 31, 2016

Of War Vets, Unity and Discipline
July 30, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabwe Herald

Dominating news headlines this week has been the relationship between the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) members and their patron, President Mugabe.

A “communiqué” issued last week on Thursday was the centre of much gossip with few, particularly those of the regime change persuasion, gleaming with hope at the possibility of the veterans of our liberation struggle abandoning their Commander-in-Chief.

On Monday, under-fire ZNLWVA chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa distanced himself from the communiqué when he said: “I definitely have no copyright to the English language. The infiltrators are the ones ascribing authorship to me. I did not attend the meeting and I am yet to have a brief on proceedings.”

Government, through Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, said investigations were underway to determine the origins of the document.

He further stated that it was possible that this was the work of a Fifth Column determined to undermine the party and Government from within.

This week on Wednesday, war veterans turned up in their numbers to dismiss suggestions that they were unhappy with their patron and distanced themselves from the communiqué.

The meeting, which took place at zanu-pf Headquarters in Harare, was in solidarity with President Mugabe.

It was also an illustration of the bridging of generations as the war veterans were joined by their children and other members of the zanu-pf Youth League.

The key message that came out of the meeting as stressed by President Mugabe was that of unity.

“Let’s keep together and help us also with your unity at the base,” he said.

“The unity of zanu-pf is in the provinces and I want to thank the provincial chairpersons who are here. Your unity is crucial because that is the basis of the whole party.

“We can’t talk of a united party when the provinces are not united. We can’t talk also of a united party when the wings of the party – the Youth League, the Women’s League – when these are not united. So the unity of the party is crucial and I am glad that so far, we have maintained that unity and I hope that we shall maintain it until 2018.”

This is an important message and one that the war veterans must heed.

The war veterans must remember that they are an extension of the armed forces.

Without discipline and the ability to follow orders they illustrated while fighting for independence, Zimbabwe’s liberation might have taken longer to achieve.

It is in a similar vein that they must exercise discipline and abide by President Mugabe’s call for unity.

They must remember that aside from being their patron, as the reserve force, he is their Commander-in-Chief and as such they must adhere to the principles and values they had when they were combatants.

The disturbing feature of the Wednesday meeting was when Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Cde Mandi Chimene made accusatory statements directed at Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

She insinuated that he was leading a faction within zanu-pf and that he should be replaced.

In response to this, VP Mnangagwa said these false allegations would not deter him from performing his duties.

He added that it was the nature of politics that one will always have accusers.

He, however, said one should not be deterred from their work but rather find strength in these accusations and continue to do what they are mandated to do.

The VP is right that within the arena of politics one will always find mudslingers.

However, for such to take place at a ruling party event which was called to express solidarity with the President is problematic.

It is quite alarming and disturbing that a senior party official and Government minister would show such insubordination to a sitting Vice-President at such a public forum.

One wonders what inspired her to put on such a performance in front of other party members as well as the Head of State and Government.

Surely, if there were serious concerns on any of the issues she raised then there are more procedural and diplomatic means of bringing these up.

This also at a time when the President has repeatedly called for unity in zanu-pf, a time where there are concerns of divisive elements within the war veterans’ association.

Why would the individual stated to be the acting chairperson then choose to act in the manner she did?

The meeting at zanu-pf Headquarters was to show solidarity with President Mugabe. This should have been the only focus of the day. Any other issues should have been brought up behind closed doors.

This is indeed what President Mugabe went on to say in his response, making it clear that zanu-pf would not change its leadership based on unsubstantiated rumours.

He even mentioned that the party had ways of dealing with contradictions.

“During the liberation struggle we learnt a lot from China during Mao’s time on how they would solve internal differences. The Chinese sit down and discuss with squabbling parties, giving their ideas.

“Those ideas that conform to the party ideology will be taken on board. That is how contradictions were settled in China. That is how we were settling them also in our camps outside the country. Let us not fight each other. We do not want war. We don’t want violence,” he said.

As a liberation war veteran, Cde Chimene is aware of these methods used within the party to solve contradictions.

It is these that should then be called upon should any issues arise within the party.

All that such performances serve to do is create disunity and confusion among party members, which is against what the President of Zimbabwe and the First Secretary of zanu-pf has called for.

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