Jabulani Sibanda desertion fears grip Joice Mujuru’s party
FORMER war veterans leader Mr Jabulani Sibanda has reportedly snubbed party engagements in the last six months sparking fears that he has abandoned the Dr Joice Mujuru-led Zimbabwe People First party.
Sources within ZimPF told this paper that Mr Sibanda has snubbed both public and private engagements in the last six months despite efforts to involve him in programmes.
Mr Sibanda was also conspicuous by his absence at Dr Mujuru’s two meetings in Bulawayo on Sunday which were attended by senior leadership including Messers Dzikamai Mavhaire, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Retired Brigadier General Agrippa Mutambara among others.
Before Sunday’s meeting, Dr Mujuru had a rally in Beitbridge which Mr Sibanda did not attend.
“Jabu hasn’t been attending any meetings whether of the committees or the party’s public events. There is strong feeling that he is no longer with us,” said a ZimPF insider.
The former war veteran’s leader’s absence, insiders said, had seen war veterans within the party elevating Retired Brigadier General Elliot Kasu to the helm of the former freedom fighters’ committee.
The war vets, according to insiders, met in Gweru two weeks ago where they refused to vote Mr Sibanda to be their leader in absentia.
“A meeting was held to set up structures from the freedom f ight e r s’ committee presided over by Mr Rugare Gumbo in Gweru. Before the meeting Mr Gumbo and Mr Didymus Mutasa were pushing that Jabu is elected to the helm of the committee but on the day war vets refused and instead voted Kasu to lead them,” said a source. “There is a feeling among colleagues in the party that Jabu could be slowly tracing his footsteps back to Zanu-PF. There is a rumour circulating that his house had its roof blown away by winds at his Nyamandlovu farm and a senior Zanu-PF official assisted him in repairing the house.”
The ZimPF insiders said unlike the other positions which were on an interim basis, the war veterans’ committee is almost permanent.
“It’s an affiliate organisation of the party whose structures won’t be voted for at the party’s convention. Jabu’s absence from party activities and the recent developments among veterans almost confirms Jabu’s departure from the party,” said the source.
Contacted yesterday, Mr Sibanda dismissed the claims as nonsense.
“I won’t respond to nonsense, go to the farm and ask if there was any roof that was blown away. I don’t have time for nonsense,” he said curtly.
ZimPF spokesperson Mr Jealousy Mawarire said Mr Sibanda was still their member working with war veterans.
He said it was not compulsory for Mr Sibanda to attend party functions but a personal decision.
“The issue of political participation is a personal matter. As a party, we’ve never received any communication that he’s no longer part of us and as such he is still a part of us,” said Mr Mawarire.
“As to any other issues you raise, the best placed person to talk to is JB himself.”
In an indication of a fallout with Mr Sibanda, Dr Mujuru told female members of the party in Bulawayo on Sunday that there are some war veterans who need to go back to the people and ask for forgiveness for “the sins” they committed in the past while they were still with Zanu-PF.
She said if those veterans do not ask for forgiveness from the people, the people would find it hard to work with them.
ZimPF has been rocked by divisions with members jostling for positions ahead of the party’s national convention set for sometime this year.
However, some members have warned that the convention could be delayed as Dr Mujuru struggles to keep the party united.
Mr Jabulani Sibanda