ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe could be forced to reconfigure his handpicked Zanu PF politburo at the party’s conference starting tomorrow after war veterans yesterday reiterated their demands for two top posts in the party.
Bulawayo-based war veterans resolved to demand the post of commissar held by Saviour Kasukuwere, in a clear escalation of the battle between a faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and G40, which backs First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe was last year given the powers to handpick the Zanu PF politburo members and the presidium as the party battled to heal the rift created by a fallout with a faction linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
However, in the run-up to this week’s Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls, the factions have been openly proding Mugabe to reconstitute his politburo to deal with new dynamics caused by the fluid battle over his succession.
War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa last night said he was happy with the resolution by Bulawayo province war veterans, saying Zanu PF desperately needed the intervention.
“There is a crying poverty of institutional memory in the commissariat department,” he said.
“That is why the party is resorting to arbitrary votes-of-no-confidence. I am proud of them for reminding the party leadership that decisions made at congress should be implemented.
“The war vets are right. We fought for democracy and people should be seen to be exercising it.”
Mugabe only appointed Kasukuwere last December after the expulsion of Webster Shamu who was accused of supporting Mujuru.
Mutsvangwa said war veterans were justified for being angry at Kasukuwere.
“Of course the war veterans are right. You cannot offend the people who have contributed that much to the country,” he said.
“I spent 20 years in the war, I have never seen a drunkard. What I saw was men and women determined to fight for their country.
“War veterans do not want to be judged by one generation, what they did was for all generations.”
Kasukuwere has been linked to G40 and war veterans accuse him of disrespecting them, hence their demands for his ouster.
The ex-combatants, in a meeting held in Bulawayo’s Entumbane high-density suburb yesterday, said the post of secretary for security should also be reserved for them, claiming they deserve the two powerful posts “because we are the vanguard of the party”.
“We have talked about this before, and now is the time to show that we are serious by going to the conference to demand the two posts,” said one war veteran during the meeting.
“The post of political commissar and the portfolio for security should be reserved for us as we are vanguard of the party.”
The demand for Kasikuwere’s post was roundly supported by the ex-combatants in attendance.
Bulawayo war veterans’ chairman, Cephas Ncube said they had not yet reached a final on the two posts as the issue was still under discussion.
“It has been discussed, but we are yet to come up with a final position on that,” Ncube said.
He said the position was not new and indicated they had support from other provinces.
“It was started at last year’s congress. It is not new. We met today because I was giving feedback to the province about the provincial chairpersons meeting we held in Harare on November 8 and 9,” Ncube added.
Kasukuwere was recently caught in a war of words with war veterans after he allegedly described them as drunkards.
The fall-out was precipitated by Kasukuwere’s alleged imposition of Terrence Mukupe as the Zanu PF candidate in the Harare East constituency for the June 10 by-election.
As tempers flared, the former fighters issued a statement attacking Kasukuwere and a group of “Young Turks” known as “Generation 40” in the ruling party.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general Victor Matemadanda alleged there was a renewed plot by the group of young leaders such as Kasukuwere in the ruling party to remove Mugabe by force with backing from Western powers.
But Kasukuwere responded calling them bogus, and drunkards.
War veteran’s minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa who doubles up as war veterans chairman demanded that Kasukuwere apologises for comments attributed to him that denigrated the country’s former fighters in the bush war that brought majority rule but he refused.