THE internal power struggle rocking the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), pitting national chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa and secretary general Victor Matemadanda, is heading for an explosive finish after one faction held a meeting at the weekend to plot the ouster of their leader, NewsDay has gathered.
Mutsvangwa, who is indisposed with an undisclosed illness, has not been seen in public for some time, stands accused of being behind wild-cat demonstrations by a group of former liberation war fighters calling itself the Welfare Committee.
The group stormed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office last week, demanding outstanding allowances dating back to 1997 and accused Matemadanda of stalling their progress as well as rubbishing the deputy Defence minister’s war credentials. They claimed that Matemadanda was not a real war veteran but was a taxi driver in Zambia during the liberation struggle.
Matemadanda allegedly convened a meeting of selected war veterans provincial chairpersons on Saturday in Kadoma at which strategies for Mutsvangwa’s removal were discussed, as well as a plan to protect the ZNLWVA secretary general.
“The meeting was disguised as a business forum to discuss command agriculture as well as synergies for war veterans to make a living but the major issue was to discuss a way to get rid of Mutsvangwa. There is a slush fund in place to make sure the structures of the association deal with chairpersons and other officials seen as not towing the line as well as the campaign against Mutsvangwa,” a source told NewsDay but declined identification.
The meeting was chaired by Mashonaland West ZNLWVA provincial chairperson, Cornelius Muoni and was also attended by other chairpersons from Matabeleland North, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland East and Harare.
ZNLWVA deputy national chairperson Headman Moyo confirmed the meeting, but said he did not attend.
“I have been advised of the meeting, but I am on holiday and do not have much details. Talk to Muoni,” said Moyo who has been acting leader as Mutsvangwa recuperates. Moyo said a meeting of the ZNLWVA national executive will be held “after the festive season to deal with these issues”.
Muoni confirmed the meeting and also said that discussions around Mutsvangwa “were raised”.
“That issue [Mutsvangwa’s removal] came up but was not on our agenda. We were discussing command agriculture and the recent demonstrations by that small group. He [Mutsvangwa] has been criticising command agriculture, but has not explained his reasons.
“He has not been working well with others, and there is a feeling within our ranks that he is behind the recent demonstrations. Now we need the national executive to deal with the issue. We already have resolutions from our members that we have not acted on favourably,” Muoni said.
Muoni confirmed that Matemadanda attended the meeting and claimed other chairpersons had not attended due to “fuel problems”. Efforts to get a comment from Matemadanda drew blanks as he was said to be in meetings, with his aide answering his mobile phone.
In November, war veterans in Mashonaland West reportedly passed a no confidence vote on Mutsvangwa over his reported denigration of the command agriculture programme and having failed to meet structures since his appointment as Mnangagwa’s Special Adviser last November. Calls for Mutsvangwa’s ouster were supported by war veterans in Mashonaland East province amid claims the fight for control of the former fighters was part of an internal war of attrition between Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Mutsvangwa has since been removed as Mnangagwa’s top aide.
A meeting of the association’s districts in Mashonaland East rejected the claims and confirmed their confidence in Mutsvangwa’s leadership.
Mutsvangwa is reportedly being targeted after openly attacking petroleum mogul Kuda Tagwirei, who has been funding the command agriculture programme. Tagwirei, seen as Chiwenga’s protégé, has been accused of “State capture” in a messy fight for the control of the fuel industry in Zimbabwe as well as in the ‘skewed’ allocation of foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.