HARARE – War veterans aligned to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have rekindled their fight with Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, bluntly accusing him of abusing his office and persecuting all perceived supporters of the Midlands godfather.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the spokesperson of the main faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, claimed that Mphoko was hounding members of his lobby group because they had exposed his links to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks — the Generation 40 (G40) group — which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe.
In March this year, the disaffected former liberation struggle fighters also passed a damaging vote of no confidence against Mphoko, accusing him of fanning factionalism and tribalism within Zanu PF — after the gaffe-prone VP suggested at a rally in Chiweshe that it did not follow that since Mugabe was a Zezuru, a Karanga would succeed him.
Mnangagwa is Karanga, the biggest ethnic group among Zimbabwe’s indigenous communities.
An angry Mahiya accused Mphoko yesterday of ordering the eviction of the son of ZNLWVA’s secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, Tafireyi, from his Pavlova Farm in Midlands, to settle political scores and to punish war veterans for backing Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
He also claimed that Mphoko was persecuting Matemadanda, one of the most vocal supporters of Mnangagwa in Zanu PF’s vicious factional and succession wars, because Matemadanda had allegedly mobilised the ZNLWVA to pass the March vote of no confidence against Mphoko.
“We are being persecuted by the VP because we exposed him as being behind the people who are working to destroy Zanu PF and the legacy of war veterans. He is not happy that we exposed him for being behind G40 and he is now using his office to frustrate us,” Mahiya charged.
He also savaged Mphoko for “stooping so low, to the extent of fighting a war veteran’s son to settle a political score”.
“How does a whole vice president come down to deal with an issue that should be resolved by the Lands minister? Why is the minister himself not raising the same questions that he (Mphoko) is raising?
“It is clear that he (Mphoko) is fighting this war on behalf of (Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere.
“He is also not happy that we passed a vote of no confidence in him after he said statements that we viewed as tribal while he was addressing a rally in Chiweshe.
“That proved to us that he is G40 and we will stop at nothing to ensure that we destroy such people. We are going to continue telling the people what he is doing to destroy Zanu PF and our legacy,” Mahiya vowed.
The Daily News later learnt separately that the farm in dispute is protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) with Australia — meaning that if the government takes it over, it must pay for both the land and the infrastructure on it.
For other farms not protected by such agreements, the government is only obliged to pay for equipment and not the land itself.
But Mahiya was adamant that Tafireyi deserved to be on the farm “because his father sacrificed his life for this country”.
“We are aware that the VP is in touch with our former colonisers and urging them to come back because the G40 wants to reverse the gains of our liberation struggle.
“If Matemadanda’s son is being denied an opportunity to own land, it being the reason why his father sacrificed his life for, then I do not think the VP even wants him to continue to be a citizen of this country.
“The minister responsible has allowed the farm to be given to him since he has an offer letter, and one wonders why VP Mphoko is so much concerned. Why is the other VP (Mnangagwa) not raising the same issue?
“Why did the pervious VP (Joice Mujuru) not raise the Bippa issue? You can therefore see that this is all political,” Mahiya charged.
The war veterans’ unrelenting assaults on Mphoko come at a time that Zanu PF is still reeling from the damaging breakaway from within its ranks of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters.
They also come at a time that both analysts and Zanu PF insiders have raised concern that the former liberation movement could suffer another split, this time involving Mnangagwa’s camp.
Zanu PF insiders who recently spoke to the Daily News said the pending “divorce proceedings” involving Team Lacoste — which they said were evident in the troubled provinces of Midlands and Mashonaland East — would deliver a knock out punch to the fast-unraveling party.
One of the Zanu PF bigwigs said never in his “wildest imagination” had he ever contemplated that the former liberation movement would suffer more splits than the MDC.
“I’m embarrassed that after Zanu PF Gamatox (Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First), we are now going to have Zanu PF Lacoste, all within the space of a few months. Before that, we had the likes of (Edgar) Tekere, Margaret (Dongo) and Simba (Makoni) splitting from the party as you know.
“At least in the case of the MDC, when they were splitting this was largely due to the work of our boys (infiltration and destabilisation by spooks). What excuses do we have for this anarchy?
“And the chaos is worsening, what with some war veterans passing votes of no confidence against national leaders such as VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko and Tyson (Kasukuwere),” the politburo member who has always claimed that he is “non-aligned” said ruefully.