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War vet marches divide Zanu PF

Constantine Chimakure

THE countrywide marches by war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda to drum up support for President Robert Mugabe ahead of Zanu PF’s special con

gress in December has divided the party, with some senior officials attending while others snub them.

The war veterans’ solidarity march in Marondera, Mashonaland East, last Friday was boycotted by Zanu PF bigwigs in the province, among them retired army general Solomon Mujuru and Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi.

On Saturday, Sibanda took his roadshow to Bindura, Mashonaland Central, where he got the backing of most senior ruling party officials.

Among Zanu PF officials who toyi-toyed and sloganeered with Sibanda and his band of ex-combatants were provincial governor Ephraim Masawi, Youth Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Bindura mayor Advocate Martin Dinha.

A fortnight ago, Zanu PF officials in Bulawayo snubbed Sibanda’s march and barred him and his group from using the party’s headquarters, arguing that the province was yet to nominate its presidential candidate.

Earlier Sibanda had taken his marches to Masvingo where war veterans in the province accused them of trying to hijack the party’s duty to elect the presidium. Fist-fighting nearly broke out between Sibanda’s group and that of ex-combatants in the province.

Sibanda and some war veterans want Mugabe to remain in power and are pushing that the special congress’s main agenda be that of endorsing the ageing leader.

While Sibanda is dividing the party, Zanu PF infighting in Mashonaland Central took a new twist this week after the provincial executive put in motion a move to suspend Bindura executive mayor Dinha on allegations he branded the leadership “corrupt”.

In a letter to Dinha dated October 20, provincial secretary for administration Canicious Dengu summoned the mayor to a “meeting” on Wednesday to answer allegations that he wrote an article in Zanu PF’s official mouthpiece, The Voice, making serious and unsubstantiated claims against the executive.

“You are hereby invited to a meeting to discuss matters that arose in the last coordination meeting held in the function room on August 25 2007 on Wednesday October 23 to be held at Zanu PF offices at 2pm,” wrote Dengu.

“These were: that you wrote a story which was published in The People’s Voice (sic) to the effect that the leadership of this province were corrupt and therefore needed to be investigated as regards distribution of (central bank) phase one tractors, thereby bringing the party into disrepute.”

However, the meeting failed to take place as Dinha was reportedly in Kariba attending a Zimbabwe Local Government Association indaba. But the sources said the decision to summon Dinha was part of the infighting in the ruling party between a faction led by national commissar and also Minister without Portfolio Elliot Manyika and Kasukuwere and the other camp headed by general Solomon Mujuru.

The Manyika faction want Mugabe to remain in power while the Mujuru camp is backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru to replace the 83-year-old veteran leader.

Dinha is perceived to be a Mujuru loyalist.

The mayor, Mashonaland Central governor Ephraim Masawi, and Monica Mavhunga, are reportedly jostling to contest the Bindura seat currently occupied by Manyika.

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