President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s staunchest backers — the war veterans — are now divided over State capture allegations that have sucked in oil tycoon, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
While the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Christopher Mutsvangwa has been stinging in his criticism of the businessman whom he accused of capturing the top echelons of government, he now faces rare opposition from some of his lieutenants.
ZNLWVA insiders told the Daily News yesterday that fault lines are emerging in the association between those sympathetic to the Sakunda founder and those opposed to his growing influence.
“There are some war veterans who don’t want him (Tagwirei) criticised let alone scrutinised, but the majority have coalesced around Mutsvangwa, including the group that stormed the party’s headquarters recently seeking the removal of some party heavyweights,” said a source.
Indications are that ZNLWVA’s secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, who was not picking up his phone yesterday, was one of those clandestinely backing Tagwirei.
One of the most recognisable leaders of the association, Matemadanda now doubles up as deputy minister of Defence, which is also responsible for the welfare of the former liberation war fighters.
He recently came under the cosh from ZNLWVA members in Mashonaland East who accused him of having forgotten the poor lot that made it possible for him to climb the political ladder.
The Daily News established yesterday that a section of the war veterans sympathetic to Tagwirei is pushing for a meeting on Tuesday next week, where they are planning to oust Mutsvangwa although some members of ZNLWVA denied any knowledge of the purported indaba.
While ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was said to be in a meeting, a member of the association Sam Parirenyatwa said notwithstanding some minor differences, the war veterans were still intact.
ZNLWVA played a critical role in the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe last year in November and his replacement with Mnangagwa.
In the twilight years of Mugabe’s rule, Mutsvangwa was a thorn in the flesh for the fallen despot, serving as the symbol of resistance against the man who was feared far and wide until his inglorious exit last November.
Mutsvangwa’s fortunes have somewhat dimmed since last July’s elections.
He failed to land a post in Mnangagwa’s government after an embarrassing defeat to independent legislator Temba Mliswa in the Norton parliamentary election.
But never one to shy away from public brawls, Mutsvangwa has of late come to the grand stage through his stunning revelations that the State is now in the pockets of a few individuals.
In a statement, Zanu PF youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi said people who are fermenting factionalism should not “mistake statecraft and State capture” and must remember always that the door is ever open for all those who feel bigger than the party.
“We are, however, concerned at the extent of indiscipline that and irresponsibility which is now being unfortunately stirred by some persons who all along we thought had the national interests at heart, but as it is turning out are only interested in lining their pockets never mind the pursuit of genuine economic goals that will benefit the people at large.
“There has been a lot of nonsense from otherwise respected individuals who are trying to put a wedge between the president and his two deputies through making sensational corruption stories which have no grain of truth in them,” said Togarepi.
Signalling all is not well among former combatants, Togarepi, who is also chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association, said anyone who sows seeds of discord must be accordingly punished.
Tagwirei was referred to as Queen Bee by then Finance Ministry communications chairman Acie Lumumba when he exposed his deals last month.