Former vice president and leader of the upstart Zimbabwe People First party Joice Mujuru has been barred from attending a meeting between president Robert Mugabe and war veterans next week.
A list seen by Now Daily of the 10 000 war veterans invited by Mugabe to the meeting totally excludes the decorated former Chimurenga fighter and former Zanla war council, Dare ReChimurenga member Rugare Gumbo. Several prominent war-time commanders who have rebelled against Mugabe’s misrule have also been excluded from the meeting, including Brigadier Generals Engelbert Rugeje and Elliot Kasu.
War veterans have resolved to boycott a crunch meeting with president Robert Mugabe set for April 7, unless Mujuru is invited.
The veterans claim that without ‘hot heads’ who are feared by Mugabe such as Mujuru and her entourage, the gathering would serve no purpose but to intimidate them. Mujuru is a war veteran and one of the most decorated female fighters from the 1970s Chimurenga civil war. Mugabe is terrified of her achievements and her recent launch of a political party that drew a large chunk of senior officials from Zanu PF, including former state security minister Didymus Mutasa and several army generals.
Relations between Mugabe and the veterans are fractious after Mugabe deployed serving generals to monitor a preparatory meeting last week. The veterans were miffed by the presence of suspended Zanu PF politburo member Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was sacked by Mugabe as veteran welfare minister. They also deplored the presence of police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, who ordered his charges to disperse a recent veterans street protest by spraying the demonstrators with boiling water, teargas and beatings.
The attempt by president Robert Mugabe to set the agenda for his meeting with the angry war veterans has been condemned by the former fighters, who accuse his regime of abandoning them after he came to power through their violent efforts in 1980.
George Mlala, a spokesman for the vets said the presence of Mugabe’s running dogs at a preparatory meeting for the April 7 summit was clearly meant to intimidate them. Mlala wrote a letter to Zanu PF secretary for war veterans, defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi outlining the terms of their re-engagement with Mugabe.
“We do not accept to work with Mutsvangwa anymore. We made our decision and it’s final. You (Sekeramayi) agreed to include top-ranked serving uniformed senior officers led by General Constantine Chiwenga, Commander Defence Forces, being a plot to intimidate and coerce us into approving Christopher Mutsvangwa back to the position of chairman against a vote of no confidence which was made on 13th February 2016,” Mlala said.
Mlala, an ally of Manicaland provincial affairs minister Manditawepi Chimene, a member of the G 40 faction bankrolled by Grace Mugabe who has declared herself Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association acting chair, threatened that war vets would boycott future meetings where Mutsvangwa attended.
“Any new threats and impositions dictated by serving uniformed comrades shall be resisted,” Mlala said.
Mugabe last week sent a high-powered team of serving officers to threaten the veterans, who have a showdown with the dictator on April 7. The officers included Chiwenga, Chihuri, prisons commissioner Brigadier General Paradzai Zimhondi and others from the secret service and other security services.
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