FORMER Vice-President and opposition leader Joice Mujuru has snubbed an invitation by War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube to attend a proposed meeting of former guerrilla war fighters tentatively set for next month.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mujuru was stampeded out of the ruling party, as part of a brutal purge in the run-up to the Zanu PF 6th congress held in December 2014, on accusations she was behind a sinister plot to force Mugabe out of power.
Her removal as Mugabe’s number two was part of the ongoing internal power struggle for the soul of Zanu PF, as senior party leaders look beyond the 93-year-old ruler, despite public pronouncements that he will represent the ruling party in next year’s presidential polls.
Dube told NewsDay last week that Mujuru, as a veteran of the liberation struggle, would be free to attend.
“She is free to attend as a war veteran and not in any other capacity. We would welcome her. The meeting brings together all war veterans from across the political divide. We do not look at who supports which party or is aligned to which political formation. The President meets all those who took part in the liberation struggle and Mujuru is one of them,” Dube said.
But Mujuru immediately scoffed at the suggestion that she would appear at Mugabe’s indaba with war veterans.
“As a matter of principle and ideological standing Dr Mujuru has no desire to attend a gathering presided over by a dictator who has completely lost focus, as demonstrated by his insatiable appetite to disregard constitutionalism and the rule of law. Put simply one cannot expect Jesus to attend a sermon being
presided over by Baal’s prophets,” Mujuru said through spokesperson Gift Nyandoro, adding Mugabe had failed to deliver on last year’s promises after a meeting with the ex-fighters.
Mugabe has agonisingly watched his age-old relationship with war veterans waste away over the succession issue, with the former fighters backing Mujuru’s successor in Zanu PF Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while sections of the women and youth leagues were reportedly behind First Lady Grace Mugabe under the banner of a faction known as G40.
Mujuru now leads the opposition National People’s Party following a “rebranding” exercise triggered by a nasty fall-out with erstwhile comrades in the Zimbabwe People First party.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), which last week won a court interdict to force authorities to allow it to hold its own meeting, said its members would not attend Mugabe’s meeting. Police two weeks ago barred the ZNLWVA from holding a special indaba in the capital, citing “administrative issues” that needed to be attended to but the association accused police of being “used.” Secretary-general Victor Matemadanda yesterday said his association had no reason to attend.
“We have no reason to attend because the first meeting yielded nothing in terms of fulfilment of promises. We feel that it is better to use the millions that are going to be wasted on the event to pay outstanding medical bills and examination fees for very needy children of war veterans,” Matemadanda said.
Mugabe’s lieutenants have in the past year unsuccessfully tried to set up a new war veterans’ association fronted by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, to rival the ZNLWVA-led by former Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Mugabe met war veterans in April last year in a stormy period that was followed by the release of a damning communiqué describing him as a manipulative and “genocidal leader” who has used foul means to retain power.