The government’s investigations into a war veterans’ communiqué denouncing President Robert Mugabe as a dictator and a failed leader allegedly reached a dead end after indications that some senior army officials could have been involved, it has emerged.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mugabe reacted angrily to the hard-hitting statement in which the war veterans also declared that they were no longer willing to campaign for the 92-year-old leader in future elections.
He ordered severe punishment for the authors of the document and Zanu PF reacted last week by firing four Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) leaders that have been linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Senior government officials speaking on condition of anonymity said preliminary investigations had linked some military officers to the communiqué and Mugabe was briefed about the findings.
“The paper trail leading to the communiqué suggested that somehow certain war veterans within the military were directly involved,” the source said.
However, War Veterans’ minister Tshinga Dube said no concrete evidence had linked the military to the communiqué.
“We have heard it just like you have heard it, but we don’t work on speculation,” he said.
“No one really has come forward with proof that anyone in the military was involved in the authorship of that communiqué. In fact, no one has so far come forward to own up as authors of the document.
“I know with what has been happening so far, it’s difficult for anyone to own up but we expect the investigations to really lead us to who wrote the document, their motive and so on and so forth.”
Seven war veteran leaders have since been arrested and charged with undermining the authority of Mugabe following the publication of the communiqué.
Police alleged that the ex-freedom fighters were behind the statement which, according to sources was backed up by several top intelligence reports from the provinces.
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi claimed it was the product of a Fifth Column, a subversive force.
“Remember it is the army that supervised the elections of this war veterans’ executive led by Chris Mutsvangwa in 2014 after removing the Jabulani Sibanda led team,” said another source.
“They have serious interest in the war veterans association and speak the same language.
“War veterans in the military will tell you that they are stockholders in Zanu PF, a statement you will hear from war veterans.
“[ZNLWVA chairperson] Mutsvangwa will tell you that war veterans are a reserve force of the military, and they get direct command from those bosses. So it is the same with the communiqué.”
The Mutsvangwa-led executive was elected in Masvingo in 2014 after the ouster of Sibanda, who was accused of plotting to topple Mugabe.
“When the issue of the military involvement was brought up to the president, he acted as if he did not believe it and told the investigators to probe more so that they could find out if there is no outside influence on the Mutsvangwa-led team as some alleged that they have been infiltrated by western sponsors,” said a source.
“The issue of a western or foreign hand in the affairs of the war veterans is being peddled by those who are asking who could have been funding the war veterans’ meetings since their ministry is broke”.
Sekeramayi’s phone was not being answered yesterday, while army spokesperson Alpheus Makotore requested questions to be emailed, promising to respond on Wednesday this week.
According to insiders, the communiqué was a culmination of meetings held in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands and in Harare, where various issues targeting the party were raised.
“Had the president listened to the war veterans long back, that communiqué would have not been released,” the source said.
“But these comrades have realised that as long as Mugabe is not paying attention to them, the party is dead and it’s time for them to stand their ground and fight for their space, which has been hijacked by young and ambitious politicians.”
“After these meetings, the draft report was taken to some war veterans in the military for editing and then brought back to the executive, who made it available at the end of the Raylton meeting,” the source added.
“If you listened carefully to contributions made during the meeting, war veterans were saying similar things to those in the communiqué.
“It is just that the document has a last line which is a way forward, which was not publicly stated at the meeting [divorcing from Zanu PF] and it is the source of animosity now.”
Another senior government official said the veterans were left with no option but to release the communiqué as they realised that Mugabe was unwilling to listen to their demands, especially on the state of the party.
“If you look at the resolutions of the war veterans as far back as 2015 January, you will realise that they have been consistent in demanding that two critical posts within the party be held by a war veteran,” the source added.