Constantine Chimakure/ Loughty Dube
A FACTION of war veterans opposed to the return to Zanu PF of Jabulani Sibanda has demanded to meet Vice-President Joseph Msika and p
arty chairman John Nkomo, among others, amid reports that the ex-combatants leader’s case will be top of the agenda of the politburo meeting on Wednesday.
Sibanda was expelled from Zanu PF in 2004, but bounced back under unclear circumstances to spearhead President Robert Mugabe’s campaign to be endorsed as the ruling party’s 2008 presidential candidate.
In a letter dated October 10 to Msika, Nkomo and war veterans board vice-chairperson Dumiso Dabengwa, the ex-combatants’ re-organising committee chairperson Andrew Ndlovu and Bulawayo ex-freedom fighters committee secretary, a T Dube, said the former Zapu heavyweights should explain how Sibanda bounced back into the party.
“After meeting as a committee and consulting with other provinces we felt the situation is highly sensitive and needs a political solution through meeting with Vice-President Msika and Zanu PF national chairman Nkomo,” wrote the war veterans.
“We also wish and pray that the war veterans board be present at such (a) meeting to shed light on programmes of the war veterans.”
The Ndlovu and Dube faction claim that allowing expelled individuals like Sibanda to spearhead Mugabe’s campaign was a violation of Zanu PF’s constitution and protocol.
“It is felt that even the security of the presidium and the party at large is compromised,” reads the letter. “We feel that the Unity Accord itself (between Zanu PF and PF Zapu) is threatened if the expelled elements who are bent on confusing the party leadership are allowed to thrive and organise support in the name of the party.”
It was not clear from the letter when the war veterans wanted to meet Msika, Nkomo and their board.
However, the Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed that the Sibanda issue will be high on the agenda of the politburo and would be explosive.
Sources said Sibanda was brought back into Zanu PF by a camp of the party led by Rural and Social Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to drum up support for Mugabe ahead of Zanu PF’s extra-ordinary congress.
“We expect the politburo meeting to be explosive given that the party leadership is divided on Sibanda,” a source in the politburo said. “It is now common knowledge that Nkomo and Msika don’t want Sibanda back in the party, while Mugabe’s position is not clear.”
Msika and Nkomo have publicly ostracised Sibanda and ordered him to stop campaigning for Mugabe because he was expelled from Zanu PF.
However, Sibanda continues to organise “solidarity marches” throughout the country drumming up support for the ageing Mugabe.
The sources said Sibanda was roped in to scuttle plans by another camp in Zanu PF led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru that want Mugabe to step down and be succeeded by Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Sibanda was expelled from the party for his alleged participation in the Tsholotsho Declaration reportedly meant by the Mnangagwa faction to re-arrange the presidium.
Apart from the Sibanda issue, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa would update the politburo on the ongoing Sadc-sanctioned talks between Zanu PF and both formations of the MDC.
Chinamasa and Labour minister Nicholas Goche represent Zanu PF in the talks, with the MDC having its secretary-generals Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti as its negotiators.
South African President Thabo Mbeki is mediating the talks.
Zanu PF and the MDC have so far agreed on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No18 under the auspices of the talks and the proposed law has since been passed by parliament and now awaits presidential assent.