Struggles stall war vets congress

Itai Dzamara

BICKERING about power dynamics as well as the succession issue within Zanu PF have indefinitely stalled the holding of the national congress of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Asso

ciation.


ZNLWVA secretary-general Endy Mhlanga confirmed the indefinite postponement of the congress. He also admitted that the succession issue had caused divisions among war veterans.


“The congress had been scheduled for the first week of July. I can’t say now whether it could be held before the (Zanu PF) conference (in December) because we still have to sit down and organise as well as decide on dates.”


But the issue of President Robert Mugabe’s successor in Zanu PF has added a whole new dimension to the staging of the congress.


“Indeed, the succession issue is a thorn in the flesh,” said Mhlanga.

“People are fighting over the issue, with some having already formed campaign teams.


“But we are going to come up with the association’s recommendations for submission to the president and the party (Zanu PF),” he said.


He said the congress had been postponed several times due to the instability in the country.


“We had stayaways and some political tension. However, we are still planning to hold the congress,” he said.


The ruling party will be holding a national congress next year at which a new leadership will be chosen. It is generally believed President Mugabe’s successor will be chosen at the congress.


War veterans have become a factor in the contentious issue of choosing Mugabe’s successor, with aspiring candidates already using the former combatants to campaign for them in the lower ranks of the party.


War veterans sources said Zanu PF heavyweights had developed a direct interest in the affairs of the war veterans grouping.


“It is not at all the issue of lack of funds. The party made a commitment to bankroll the congress long back,” a source said.


“We were supposed to elect a new leadership. However, there are bigwigs within the party who want the status quo to persist,” he said.


Mhlanga admitted the staging of the war veterans congress could open a can of worms.


“The congress can divide the association. It happened after the one held in Umzingwane (1998) when chaos erupted as people fought over the outcome,” said Mhlanga.


Patrick Nyaruwata has been acting war veterans chairman since the death of Chenjerai Hunzvi in 2001 and a substantive chairman was supposed to be elected at this year’s congress.


A faction within the ruling party wants the top post to be given to Mugabe as a life chairman, whilst another wants Nyaruwata to stay on.