ZIMBABWE – War veterans’ leader Cde Chris Mutsvangwa, has been suspended by his Mashonaland West Province which is recommending that he be recalled from Parliament and expelled from the ruling party, Zanu-PF. He is being accused of gross misconduct, disloyalty and treachery. His greatest crime, according to his accusers, is that of undermining President Mugabe after the abrasive war vets leader said something about “conflating and confusing the institution of marriage and that of the State” which is reminiscent of what his predecessor Jabulani Sibanda once said.
Which is ironic of course.
Jabu was the chairman of the war vets body, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), but increasingly became bold, and foolishly so, to the extent of saying that Zimbabwe had suffered a “bedroom coup” in opposition to the rise of the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe to become the leader of Zanu-PF’s Women’s League.
For his pains, Jabu lost his position at the helm of the war vets body not least because he was, apart from being reckless with his statements, associated with a far more nefarious plot of seeking to unseat President Mugabe as part of a cabal led by Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru, as we know, has been banished from the ruling party and state and has been wandering in the wilderness the best she has come to being associated with a project called People First for which she has not spoken but which has appropriated her name.
It will be recalled that Jabu even went as far as seeking to lead a march to State House to seek audience with, capitulation of President Mugabe even, for some obscure cause which we have not yet grasped.
And how so true the statement that the more things change the more they remain the same is!
Cde Mutsvangwa, good luck to him, has been doing almost the same things that Jabu did a few moons back, if not worse.
He is a whole minister now but has been behaving in a manner that some may have not thought befits the office especially to the extent of behaving like, and leading a cabal of, vigilantes.
You have to admit that war veterans may not have been treated the best they should with most of their grievances, which are anchored on past deprivations and present exclusions, not having been adequately addressed.
No one would deny them that. It is a fact.
However, there is everything wrong in using, nay abusing, this platform to get entangled in deadly wars that have little to do with the daily bread and butter issues of such important a demographic as war vets.
It simply defeats a noble purpose, as we shall demonstrate shortly.
Now, is it not ironic that a person like Cde Mutsvangwa, who was actively involved in the Jabu regime would fall into the same trap and in particular began to feel that he had the power to do and say anything he wants apparently believing, as unfortunately as is usually done, that war veterans and in particular its leader hold some super power in this country?
Who can forget that interview one Saturday, August 16 2014, which Tichaona Zindoga conducted with Cde Mutsvangwa that appeared in The Herald in which Cde Mutsvangwa not only stripped former vice President Joice Mujuru of her claim to having downed a chopper, but also introduced many of us to new vocabulary relating to “putschist crankpots”, “cabal” and so on?
Cde Mutsvangwa also helpfully schooled us about the bare participation of Didymus Mutasa in the war of liberation where he came late from abroad to Mozambique where he avoided guerilla camps but chose a safe haven to “paramour his beautiful wife”.
And no one would be surprised when Cde Mutsvangwa became the leader of war vets at organisational and state level.
Yet, somehow, things went wrong.
It has become apparent that Cde Mutsvangwa was getting drunk with power, and some accused him of worse, which made him to commit fatal errors of judgment, the one big error being behaving like a “super war vet” and annoying everyone in the process, including, possibly the President of the Republic who at the just ended Zanu-PF Peoples Conference in Victoria Falls castigated arrogant leaders, including war veterans, and to illustrate his point singled out one Joseph Chinotimba as a model of humble fighter of the liberation.
A point has to be made here and now just how Cde Mutsvangwa, most inadvertently has brought ruin to himself and more worryingly to the whole institution of war veterans.
While what is happening in Mash West is his personal woe, and we wish him all the best, the unfortunate result of his actions has been to undermine the value of war veterans in the eyes of many people.
It is hoped that this will be temporary.
Any bona fide Zimbabwean should be worried with the growing cheapening of the brand, institution and pantheon of liberation struggle when some people can claim to be war vets simply because they witnessed the war and would do at best petty chores or perhaps suffered deprivation of their mothers comfort because the said mothers would have left their children at home to serve fighters with this or the next petty chore.
That ordinarily should be deemed treasonous.
However, it is perfectly acceptable when the institution has been cheapened or otherwise allowed itself to be given a bad name worthy of hanging.
What must now happen is a lot of introspection on Cde Mutsvangwa’s part, and hopefully that he makes sense of what is happening around him which he may have missed in his power and what-not-else-with stupor.
We have no doubt Cde Mutsvangwa is a good, intelligent and hardworking fellow. We are also convinced that there is no need to dismiss and impugn the whole institution of war veterans because of perceived bad apples since its roots go deeper into the country’s nationhood.
It would be a sad day to watch a whole memory and history being wiped clean — just like that!