Loughty Dube/Pindai Dube
FISSURES have widened in the ruling Zanu PF with senior officials clashing over the role of former party provincial chairman and war veterans le
ader, Jabulani Sibanda, in campaigning for President Mugabe.
Sibanda, who was fired from Zanu PF for taking part in the ill-fated Dinyane meeting in Tsholotsho in 2004, has of late been playing a leading role in party functions and activities.
Sibanda this week said he was brought back into the party by President Mugabe. He said he was doing a national duty in campaigning for Mugabe.
“I was recommended back by President Mugabe. So I am still the national leader of the war veterans association and a member of Zanu PF,” Sibanda said.
Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo, however said Sibanda was still suspended from the party. He said Sibanda should stop organising demonstrations in the name of the party.
“Sibanda should stop organising unsanctioned national demonstrations without the party leadership’s knowledge because Zanu PF is led by people who are war veterans themselves,” Nkomo said.
He said Sibanda remained suspended until the party issues a directive to the contrary.
Sibanda was fired from the party and relieved of his duties as national war veterans association leader after a three-member team led retired army general Solomon Mujuru dissolved the national leadership structures.
The team that was tasked by President Mugabe to reform the war veterans association was composed of former combatants and politburo members Dumiso Dabengwa, Mujuru and the late Josiah Tungamirai.
Sibanda’s reemergence has riled senior politburo members in the province. He has lately assumed a leading role in campaigning for President Mugabe’s re-election bid in next year’s harmonised parliamentary and presidential elections.
He has been organising countrywide marches to drum up support for President Mugabe’s re-election.
Politburo members in Matabeleland who masterminded Sibanda’s downfall are livid that he has been brought back into the forefront of party politics by President Mugabe and war veteran leaders from other provinces despite his being expelled from the party.
It has also emerged that the war veterans leadership in Bulawayo refused to undertake the marches after disagreements over Sibanda’s involvement.
But at a provincial meeting addressed by national party chairman Nkomo, Bulawayo provincial spokesman, Effort Nkomo said the province will not join other provinces in endorsing President Mugabe.
“Bulawayo is a disciplined province and Zanu PF as a party has a system where provinces are called upon to have nominations for any posts and that communication has not come to us yet. When it finally does, we will respond accordingly,” Effort Nkomo said at the meeting.
However, in the last few weeks Zanu PF officials have been treating Sibanda as a bonafide leader of the war veterans association after he led war veterans in solidarity marches for Mugabe in Harare, Masvingo and in Lupane.
“Zanu PF is in turmoil and politburo members from the province are seeking an audience with President Mugabe to discuss Sibanda,” said a source.
“Most of them feel they are being undermined since they are the ones who recommended that Sibanda be dismissed from the party.”
The sources however said divisions in the province will boil over when the issue of the party’s candidate comes up for discussion at the Zanu PF special congress in December.
The Zanu PF special congress is expected to choose a presidential candidate as it is believed that President Mugabe might step down in line with outcomes of negotiations taking place in Pretoria between the opposition MDC and Zanu PF.