PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has reportedly had a change of heart after indicating he was ready to fire War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa in the aftermath of a nasty fall-out over a botched meeting of the former freedom fighters, NewsDay can reveal.
Mugabe reportedly met Mutsvangwa last Tuesday after a government meeting in Harare and commended him for “the good job that war veterans are doing”.
“The President was briefed just after his address to the nation last week. He was told that Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and his Home Affairs counterpart, Ignatius Chombo, were informed of the extraordinary general council meeting by war veterans,” a close source said
It is understood that Mugabe had nothing, but praise for Mutsvangwa.
“He told Mutsvangwa that he is doing a good job and must continue. That war veterans must continue to mobilise, but next time they want to hold a meeting ‘you must consult as you did and make sure we know’. The President said Mutsvangwa should inform him if he ‘faces any problems’. So it’s over,” NewsDay heard.
Contacted for comment, Mutsvangwa would not be drawn into the discussion.
“I do not comment on those issues or my relationship with my principal,” he said.
Secretary for the War Veterans ministry Brigadier-General Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi said Mutsvangwa’s schedule had not changed.
“On the issue of his relationship with the President, you can enquire from him. But as far as the ministry is concerned, he is reporting for duty and carrying out his functions, including [attending] Cabinet [meetings],” Tapfumaneyi said on Thursday last week.
Mutsvangwa, who doubles as chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), was literally in the throes after Mugabe came out guns blazing, accusing him of being wayward and at the same time insinuating he would take action.
This was after the ex-fighters’ planned gathering in Harare was met with brute force by the police, who used water cannons and tearsmoke to disperse them.
“He (Mutsvangwa) has acted in a manner we describe as irresponsible and a manner that brings the name of the party and government into disrepute,” Mugabe charged recently.
“We regret that they (war veterans) suffered this (police battering), but the man to blame is their minister and, of course, he has to answer why he did that without authority.
“We take exception to that. This irresponsible manner brings the name of the party and head of government into disrepute. People are beginning to wonder whether, in fact, we are governing properly in accordance with the rules.”
Mugabe, at the time, claimed Mutsvangwa had not notified him, as patron of the war veterans or even the country’s security ministers’ cluster.
A Cabinet minister who witnessed the meeting between Mutsvangwa and Mugabe said: “I think nothing has changed. The relationship could not be stronger. I did not see any change. There is really no problem because the President went with business as usual.”