Minister warns against anti-war veterans lobby
THE Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators and Former Political Detainees, Cde Tshinga Dube has decried the “pride” in some Zanu-PF quarters who do not want to work with war veterans and warned that the ruling party could pay a heavy price for alienating the former fighters.
Cde Dube, who this week held a crunch meeting with war veterans in Harare, said there were some members in the ruling party holding strident positions against war veterans and were even unhappy with Tuesday’s meeting. The meeting, he said, had been held at the behest of war veterans and had managed to iron out “80 percent” of differences and was likely to precede broader talks between the former fighters and the political leadership.
Cde Dube told our Harare Bureau at his offices yesterday that Zanu-PF was better off without making enemies of the former liberation fighters and urged the party to find a way to retain membership rather than drive people away.
He warned that a complacent ruling party could face a shock reversal in the next elections, slated for 2018 and suggested that differences between the ruling party and war veterans and among the former fighters themselves could be mended.
“The onus is on us, if we want to solve the problem with war veterans, there is no problem. We can do it in one week and everything will be over. But there are some people within the party who do not want the war veterans at all,” the Minister said.
“Even in the last meeting we had three days ago, it was clear that there are some members of the party who would rather have war veterans completely out, (and) they remain themselves. Then, it becomes difficult for us to put them together, we are fighting a losing war as long as that attitude remains.
“We are saying, if we want to unite the war veterans so that they unite with the party, let’s all work towards the same goal. But, I am almost certain that a lot of people are not happy. Even for the meeting that we held a day before yesterday, there are some people who are complaining bitterly, who believe that we are selling out.
“Some of them even talk of coup which was being plotted, but we have everything recorded. If you want to listen you can, every word that was said in that meeting was recorded. We were not planning any evil. In actual fact we want these comrades to come together so that we can be back and be strong again,” he said. Cde Dube warned party members that “pride goes before a fall”. “If they are too proud to accept the war veterans back, we may pay a price for it. But, if we can find a common ground then we will be alright. There is an old Russian saying that I like which says, ‘A thousand friends are too few, one enemy is one too many’,” he said.
Cde Dube dismissed suggestions that he was siding with a faction of war veterans aligned with former minister Mr Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Cde Mandiitawepi Chimene, who purportedly leads a rival faction, has reportedly been irked by Cde Dube’s alleged partiality.
But the minister said: “We have never sided with any faction, the war veterans on their own formed an association, the war veterans’ association. In Masvingo, they went there to remove Jabulani Sibanda who was a former chairman and they chose Cde Mutsvangwa.
“Some of the people in the executive are some of those who have decided to form a splinter group. What we have said to them is, you haven’t had any other congress since Masvingo, so anyone who wants to depose a present leader must go back to the congress and depose him there. Properly follow your constitution.”