PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s former advisor Chris Mutsvangwa has accused Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga of being behind plots to oust him as war veterans leader, claiming it was a fight-back against his outburst against alleged state capture.
Mutsvangwa caused a stir last month after claiming that business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei was causing divisions in the presidium through manoeuvres to control Zimbabwe’s highly lucrative fuel industry.
Tagwirei is said to be close to both Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, but has business ties with the VP.
After Mutsvangwa’s outbursts, war veterans from Mashonaland West and East said they had resolved to recall him from the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA).
However, Mutsvangwa told The Standard on Friday that the plot against him was being spearheaded by Defence and War Veterans deputy minister Victor Matemadanda.
He said Chiwenga’s backers were trying to use Matemadanda to destabilise the war veterans after he attacked Tagwirei.
“They said they want to anoint him as the leader of war veterans because he is the only war veteran in a leadership position who won a parliamentary seat in the July 30 general elections, all others fell by the wayside.
“(Matemadanda) has been trying to change the leadership, but he is meeting a lot of resistance from everybody.
“Except Mashonaland West, other provinces are saying this is nonsense.”
Mutsvangwa said Matemadanda tried to use ZNLWVA deputy chairperson Headmen Moyo to push the agenda against him.
“We exposed the cartel and it doesn’t have political cover at the moment. They are desperate for political protection and this has been worsened by the fact that President Mnangagwa won the elections in July,” he said.
“They are not happy. To continue with that cartel you need to have Number 1 supporting it, but he is not.
“They are accusing me of exposing them and they are saying since the war veterans showed power in November (2017), if we control them we will be able to get another political umbrella.”
Moyo said he was not aware that Matemadanda was fighting Mutsvangwa.
Moyo said the association would conduct a meeting mid this week to deal with the matter, but said it was not possible that Mutsvangwa could be removed by two provinces.
“We will be having a meeting by mid next week. Mutsvangwa cannot be expelled by two provinces. The national executive is going to sit and make a decision,” he said.
Mutsvangwa claimed that there used to be bad blood between Matemadanda and Chiwenga, alleging that the VP used to regard the deputy minister as “povo”. He said the two had since closed ranks to fight him.
A number of war veterans have leapt to Mutsvangwa’s defence with prominent Mashonaland West war veteran Runesu Geza, popularly known as Bombshell, claiming that some war veterans were being used by powerful people to fight their leader.
“Most of them are being used and we are realising that most of them are not war veterans. We need re-vetting. Others are now ministers, but their liberation history is not known,” he said in apparent reference to Matemadanda.
He said Mutsvangwa was fighting on behalf of war veterans and would not be toppled.
“We want to see who is influencing these war veterans to the extent of fighting their chairman and even holding hostage a politburo member (Obert Mpofu).
We can’t have war vets going even to the party to harass a politburo member. We want to know who is using them,” he said.
“If Mutsvangwa has issues with other people, war veterans should stand aside and allow him to fight his wars, not to come in on the side of his opponents.
“Colluding to fight a man who was sick — that is bad. We still have G40 members, and we want to know their mandate in fighting Mutsvangwa.
“They want to make themselves heroes because they were given cars, he is not going anywhere.
“We will stand with Mutsvangwa and are willing to defend him to the end. We can’t have war veterans as political mercenaries to fight their own boss.”
Meanwhile, Matemadanda, who is also the ZNLWVA secretary-general, said the claims that he was being used by Chiwenga to topple Mutsvangwa were false.
“Those who are talking about money they don’t know how much I was offered when I was fighting (former president Robert) Mugabe and I don’t know how much they say I got from Tagwirei,” he said in an interview.
“I have absolutely nothing against Christopher Mutsvangwa, but the people making the accusations want to use me because I refused to get into this thing.
“In any case, we are going for elections next year and I don’t intend to stand as chairman. I am content with being secretary-general.
“In fact, being secretary-general is more powerful than being chairman. These allegations are madness.”
Matemadanda said during the Mugabe era he was persecuted for supporting Mutsvangwa.
He said he was surprised when Mutsvangwa’s wife Monica accused him of trying to topple her husband.
“I have always defended Mutsvangwa, but I was surprised one day when his wife accused me of trying to usurp the chairmanship from Mutsvangwa as if there is a seat specially reserved for a specific person to be the chairman,” Matemadanda charged.
“I cannot fight Mutsvangwa today when I was fired by Mugabe for defending Mutsvangwa.
“That person saying those things is very stupid.”
The friction between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga became public last month after Zanu PF youths declared that the president would not be challenged as the party’s presidential candidate in 2023.
The declaration allegedly angered Chiwenga’s backers who feel that the VP is being sidelined after playing a leading role in the coup that toppled Mugabe in November last year.