Information to hand shows that leaders of the two factions of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) were last Friday summoned to Defence House, Harare, by Chiwenga and told to stop wrangling.
Chiwenga intervened because war veterans are considered a reserve army.
Zanu PF factionalism spilled into the war veterans association with the two main feuding camps in the party fighting to wrestle control of the former guerrillas considered an integral cog of Zanu PF’s survival machine.
Retired army general Solomon Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa lead separate factions fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
War veterans aligned to Mujuru are pushing for the removal of its current leadership chaired by Jabulani Sibanda and deputised by Joseph Chinotimba.
Retired Colonel Basten Beta is tipped to take over from Sibanda, while former war veterans secretary-general Endy Mhlanga, Douglas Mahiya and Moffat Marashwa are among those reportedly vying for top posts in the ZNLWVA.
Beta’s camp had last weekend called for a congress in Chinhoyi to elect new ZNLWVA leaders, but it was cancelled after the intervention of Chiwenga.
“Chiwenga summoned us to his office last week and asked us not to go ahead with the congress,” Mhlanga told the Zimbabwe Independent. “We agreed that by going ahead with the congress against the wish of the current leadership, it will be tantamount to running a parallel structure.”
The Beta camp is baying for Sibanda’s ouster arguing that his leadership has failed to represent war veterans and allowed the ex-freedom fighters to be abused by politicians during the chaotic 2000 land reform programme, yet the majority of them did not benefit.
War veterans who spoke to the Independent this week said there were fissures in the association because former fighters were not happy with how they were treated after leading farm invasions countrywide.
The camp against Sibanda is also accusing the war veterans’ leadership of clinging to power and failing to hold congresses in almost a decade.
Mujuru was part of a committee that was appointed by Mugabe in 2004 to restructure the war veterans association.
The committee was also made up of the late Vitalis Zvinavashe and Josiah Tungamirai, and Dumiso Dabengwa. The war veterans however said dislodging Sibanda would be a tall order because he enjoyed the backing of Mugabe.
“Sibanda will not be easy to dislodge, he has the support of Mugabe and his trump card is his ability to organise war veterans at grassroots level and those are the people who count as they are in the majority compared to war veterans in urban areas,” said one war veteran.
Sibanda last year led the so-called “one million men march” and also mobilised war veterans in the violent and controversial 2008 presidential runoff campaign to secure the presidency for Mugabe.
Efforts to contact Sibanda and Chiwenga for comment were fruitless.