TENSION between Zanu PF and war veterans continue to simmer after former freedom fighters stormed out of the Independence Day celebrations at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura last Thursday after their leader was blocked from occupying a position at the top table.
The acrimonious relationship was laid bare after the provincial war veterans’ chairman Sam Parirenyatwa was denied the opportunity to be among the top leaders during the celebrations.
This comes amid revelations that Zanu PF provincial structures are not happy with a recent directive to have war veterans occupy commissariat positions throughout the party structures, in line with a resolution made during a central committee meeting on November 19, 2017 when former President Robert Mugabe was recalled from the party.
The war veterans have also been at loggerheads with the party’s leadership and early this year, threatened to picket against top Zanu PF chefs that include Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa and David Parirenyatwa, among others working at the party headquarters in Harare.
The former combatants have also petitioned the national Zanu PF leadership, including the President’s Office over what they called were their differences with the Zanu PF leadership.
But things got to a head in Bindura last Thursday when the war veterans provincial chairman was blocked from taking a seat at the top table by security details.
Parirenyatwa refused to entertain questions. “I am not going to comment,” Parirenyatwa said.
Many people who attended the celebrations told NewsDay that they were left tongue-tied over the unusual incident.
Sources said the situation was tense and it was unusual that war veterans stormed out of the celebrations that largely recognise their efforts in liberating the country.
“As proceedings were kicking off, someone announced that a certain vehicle had its lights on and the driver was supposed to attend to the problem immediately. The vehicle belonged to Parirenyatwa, who was already at the high table,” a war veterans official who requested anonymity disclosed.
“He went on to attend to the vehicle, but when he returned he was stopped from getting on to the high-table by suspected Central Intelligence Organisation operatives. He tried to reason, but was told he was unfit to be among the provincial leaders.”
The official added: “This didn’t go down well with him and other war veterans. They confronted the operatives who clearly disclosed that they were acting on orders from their bosses who were working with the Zanu PF provincial executive.
“An altercation ensued in full glare of those who were close and in no time, some of the war veterans started shouting that they were not going to take the matter lightly. Although people didn’t expect it, they left the celebrations, leaving those at the high table hugely embarrassed.”
Bindura is one of Zanu PF’s hotbeds where the war veterans demonstrated against former President Robert Mugabe before he was deposed in a coup in November 2017.
Recently, the war veterans accused the Zanu PF provincial executive of imposing the party’s commissar and of unfairly and corruptly parcelling out land, among other accusations. They claimed this was a calculated move to sideline them and silence them for their criticism over the manner in which the province is being run.
Contacted for comment, Mashonaland Provincial Affairs minister Monica Mavhunga said she was not aware of the development, saying she only arrived to perform her duties and was too busy to observe who was present or absent.
“When I arrived, I only did my job and had no time to observe who was at the high table or not. In fact, some of the items on the programme were aborted because of rains,” Mavhunga said.
Asked if she was aware of the growing rift between the party’s provincial structures and the war veterans, Mavhunga said: “I am not aware of that.”