THE arrest of former Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader Jabulani Sibanda (56), for undermining and insulting President Robert Mugabe indicated the ruling Zanu PF feared that following his expulsion, the former war veterans’ leader could mobilise his supporters and destabilise the party’s congress, analysts said.
After being arrested on Friday, Sibanda was on Tuesday released on $400 bail and ordered not to set foot at the Zanu PF congress or stage a demonstration against any organ of the State.
Journalist and political commentator Methuseli Moyo said Sibanda and the deposed former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo were the most vocal and active members of the pro-Vice-President Joice Mujuru faction and had to be dealt with decisively hence their expulsion and arrest of the former war veterans leader.
“Again I think the plan is to lock him up because there is fear that he has propensity to confront situations and he may be up to something during congress,” he said.
“Why did they not arrest him when he made the statements?
“It is clear Mugabe does not want either of the factions to gain control.”
Moyo said Sibanda’s arrest was meant to cow militant people in the party who could confront the president.
“The arrest of Jabu is just meant to scare and cow the rest of the group of ex-Zapu people who do not fear confronting Mugabe,” he continued.
“Remember the late former war vets leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, late Vice-President Joseph Msika, former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, now Jabu was the most likely of the Gamatox group to take a front line role against Mugabe.
“He, therefore, must be nipped before he starts acting.”
Moyo said Sibanda had become the de facto Zanu PF commissar, playing a key role in marshalling war veterans to act as a political wing of the party.
“He used both the power of speech and force to harness votes for Zanu PF and Mugabe,” he said.
“His expulsion and arrest is, therefore, difficult to appreciate.
“It is just a power game and will be over soon.”
Former Bulilima East MDC-T legislator Norman Mpofu expressed reservations on why police officers from Harare had been dispatched to arrest Sibanda, when their counterparts from Bulawayo could have done so.
“Police are generally organised into jurisdictions, why was Jabulani arrested by officers from Harare?” he queried.
“Is it normal for someone to be fished out of his judiciary region?”
Media scholar and political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya concurred that Sibanda’s arrest may have been meant to silence him.
“Zanu PF wants to make sure that their bogus congress is held in peace and one way to assure order is to lock Sibanda up,” he said.
“They see him as an unpredictable and a brave cadré who could pose threats to the peaceful holding of that congress.
“Sibanda’s arrest shows that Mugabe does not have permanent friends, but political personal interests in promoting his life presidency.”
Ruhanya said this was a big lesson to people like Sibanda and others to realise that it was not in the national interest to be used by a leader to violate other citizens’ rights in order to promote dictatorship.
“They must see Mugabe for what he is, an uncaring, power-hungry old man who wants to destroy the future of the country and its citizens because of his unquenchable thirst for power,” he said.