Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) members, principally the chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa, must desist from public spats and strive to resolve grievances in line with their patron’s call to keep issues out of the media, analysts have said
The sentiments follow a public spat between Mutsvangwa and a faction led by Mandi Chimene, as well as last week’s embarrassing scenes that saw anti-riot police use water cannons and teargas to disperse war veterans who had gathered in Harare for an unsanctioned meeting.
Mutsvangwa was subsequently rapped by ZNLWVA patron President Mugabe for misleading the association’s members that the gathering would be addressed by the President who also apologised to all war vets who had been led into the unfortunate clash with the police.
Despite the President’s admonishment, the ZNLWVA leadership still has several cases pending in court, which cases — analysts said — should now be withdrawn so that war veterans can use organisational channels to resolve their disputes as is President Mugabe’s constant refrain.
Respected war veterans, legal experts and political analysts also urged war veterans to always use channels at their disposal to seek redress and desist from taking their internal issues and those of Zanu-PF to the courts.
They said being an affiliate of Zanu-PF and having President Mugabe as their patron, war veterans should use their organisations’ constitution to deal with any grievances while problems within or with Zanu-PF should be resolved in line with the revolutionary party’s constitution.
This comes after ZNLWVA dragged the Home Affairs Minister and the Commissioner-General of Police to court last Friday contesting the banning of their rally the previous day.
The war veterans also took Zanu-PF youth leader Kudzai Chipanga to court for making unlawful statements, threatening to fight the liberation fighters. This prompted President Mugabe to intervene, quelling tensions that were simmering after police clashed with war veterans last Thursday.
ZNLWVA was formed in 1980 to mainly look into the needs of demobilised combatants, mostly Zanla and Zipra member. As such, all veterans became members by default and have worked hand-in-hand with Zanu-PF to defend the country’s sovereignty.
Harare Lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein yesterday said the affairs of the party or organisation could not be solved outside the respective entities’ constitutions.
“If you remember the case of Kudakwashe Bhasikiti versus Zanu-PF, it was ruled that an issue within an organisation should be solved within that organisation before rushing to the courts because that organisation is better placed to deal with those issues,” he said.
“If you take your issues outside, how do you go back into that organisation and expect to work harmoniously? Its common sense you will exist but with great difficulty,” Mr Hussein said. Respected war veteran Cain Mathema said comrades should always engage each other with respect.
“It is wrong to take each other to court because we are in this thing together and we have channels to discuss any differences,” he said.
“There is no need to rush to the papers or the courts, it weakens us. No one alone can achieve anything so let’s not attack each other in the public. The President has spoken and we do not want any more nonsense. Let us respect the Commander-in-chief and be disciplined.”
President Mugabe is on record urging party members to follow structures within the party to get concerns addressed not through the courts. Political analyst, Mr Alexander Rusero said having President Mugabe as their patron, the war veterans should not soil the image of Zanu-PF by taking their issues to the courts.
He said: “Taking the routes of the courts amplifies the discord in the party and it is not proper to a political party of Zanu-PF’s standing. It tarnishes the image of the party and that of the leadership and people end up seeing them as a quarrelsome party than the mature and formidable force that brought independence.”
Another war veteran and legal expert Mr Sobusa Gula-Ndebele said the war vets should always stand guided by the principles of the liberation struggle. “They should not allow people to be used or divided,” he said.
“They should always base their approach to the values and principles of the liberation struggle, which were always commitment to the national interest which was about true social, political and economic freedom for all in Zimbabwe.”
War veteran Ambassador Agrippa Mutambara said some members needed serious orientation. “The Zanu-PF we had during the war toed the party line and there were clear channels with problems being solved internally,” he said, “It will be incorrect to take individuals to court.’’
War veteran Alexander Kanengoni said while it was wrong for comrades to fight each other, it was also imperative for the ruling party to restore confidence in the structures that are supposed to deal with grievances raised.