FORMER Zipra combatants have reportedly severed ties with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) to independently fight for their welfare without involving themselves in Zanu PF factional wars.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa told Southern Eye yesterday that the decision to pull out of the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led association was made at an ex-Zipra combatants’ indaba held in Bulawayo on Sunday.
“We decided to stand alone and continue to be a disciplined lot until a proper war veterans’ association is instituted, like the one that was once mooted under the Board of War Veterans,” he said.
“Zipra is determined to distance themselves from the current ugly succession and factional fights currently taking place in Zanu PF.
“Zipra was a highly disciplined force during the liberation struggle and the veterans want to stand alone and not continue to be humiliated and embarrassed by the current crop that make up the ZNLWVA that is characterised by insurmountable indiscipline and unruly behaviour.”
Maphosa said ex-Zipra combatants will officially launch their association on March 20 at a venue yet to be decided.
He said the association will be affiliated to the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu.
“It will have its own constitution,” Maphosa explained.
“That means it will operate independently of the main party. It will remain an autonomous wing of the party, which will work in conjunction with our structures to grow the party.”
He said ZNLWVA had long ceased to be a welfare association, and said the Zipra grouping will mainly focus on issues affecting war veterans.
“There is also the tendency of abuse of war veterans by the Zanu PF government, as they are often used as pawns in dirty games, which has dented their image especially with the general public,” Maphosa continued.
“War time veterans have issues particularly to them as former freedom fighters, and this association seeks to address these, be they economic, social and political. Generally, the association’s main task is to address welfare concerns of these fine freedom fighters and their families.”
It was not immediately clear how this new association would be different from the Zipra Veterans Trust, which is also championing the former freedom fighters’ cause.
But ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda yesterday said Maphosa and his group have never been part of his association.
“They are not our members,” he said.
“If they were our members, they would be toeing the party line because if they are really members they know that ZNLWVA is affiliated to Zanu PF.
“We want to dispute that they are pulling out.
“If ever they were members, they joined knowing that we are for Zanu PF and we are for President Robert Mugabe.”
Matemadanda said ZNLWVA was an affiliate of Zanu PF and its members were not allowed to be aligned to any opposition party.
The war veterans association is currently deeply involved in Zanu PF’s factional wars, with Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda reportedly campaigning for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.