WAR VETERANS in the Midlands province have reportedly vowed to support their beleaguered national chairman Jabulani Sibanda and to resist his ouster from the liberation fighters’ association, the Southern Eye has learnt.
The war veterans met at the government complex in Gweru on Sunday and undertook to “clear the air on Sibanda” saying some sections in Zanu PF were misleading President Robert Mugabe, a source, who attended the meeting said yesterday.
Sibanda caught the ire of Mugabe after he said all able-bodied Zimbabweans should resist a “boardroom or bedroom coup”, in apparent reference to a plot to unseat Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Last week Mugabe slammed Sibanda, saying he was blocking attempts by his wife to join national politics through her ascension in the Zanu PF women’s league.
“We agreed that war veterans should be united and support the national chairman Jabulani Sibanda and resist his ouster,” a war veteran who attended the meeting told the Southern Eye on condition of anonymity.
This sets the stage for a potentially bruising war within the association as another faction has openly called for Sibanda’s ouster and has Mugabe’s backing.
The Midlands’ backing of Sibanda brings to two the number of provinces that are supporting their chairman, following Bulawayo’s tacit support for their leader.
Bulawayo has also said it wants a meeting with the president, implying that Mugabe may have been misled by some officials who wanted upheavals in the ranks of the former fighters.
The war veterans in the Midlands have been fighting in Mujuru’s corner, accusing her rival, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, of fanning factionalism in the province, the source revealed.
But two war veterans, George Matenda and Victor Matemadanda — both from the Midlands — belong to a previously unknown grouping, elders of the war vets, who at the weekend announced they had booted Sibanda out of the leadership of liberation fighters.
Contacted for comment, war vets provincial chairperson Terry Shumba confirmed the meeting, but declined to divulge details of the deliberations.
“Yes, we met yesterday (Sunday) as war vets, but I can’t comment outside the meeting. It will be in breach of our constitution,” he said.
Internecine fighting within Zanu PF broke out into open warfare in the past few weeks with a number of senior leaders led by First Lady Grace Mugabe demanding that Mujuru should apologise to Mugabe or resign immediately.
Sibanda earned the wrath of senior Zanu PF leaders after he refused to back calls for Mujuru’s resignation.