A Zanu PF faction loyal to President Emmerson Mnangagwa is said to be actively pushing for the ouster of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga with war veterans being used as pawns in the fresh succession battles in the ruling party.
Some Mnangagwa loyalists in the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLVA) are said to be training their guns on Chiwenga, who is accused of harbouring ambitions to take the president’s job.
ZNLVA senior members that are viewed as loyalists of the VP are said to be targeted for ouster, with Douglas Mahiya, who is secretary for war veterans in Zanu PF, being singled out by the former fighters loyal to the president.
In Mashonaland Central war veterans recently organised a meeting at the Mt Darwin Sport Club where they resolved to block Mahiya from allegedly meddling in their affairs by trying to impose Chiwenga loyalists in their structures.
According to resolutions of the meeting seen by The Standard, the ex-fighters expressed unhappiness over Mahiya’s frequent visits to the province.
“We, the undersigned representatives of the veterans of the liberation struggle, are concerned about the unsanctioned and divisive visits to our province by Cde Mahiya, which has resulted in loss of focus, confusion and serious division among veterans themselves and our party at large,” reads part of the resolutions.
“We noticed Cde Mahiya is moving around with his team restructuring the veterans league against the party and president’s directive.
“For some time Cde Mahiya has been visiting our province.
“We would like to put it on record that as veterans of the liberation struggle in Mashonaland Central, we distance ourselves from Cde Mahiya’s actions and motives.”
They called on Mnangagwa to take action against Mahiya, saying he was throwing spanners into Zanu PF’s campaign ahead of the 2023 elections.
Samuel Parirenyatwa, the Mashonaland Central war veterans’ provincial chairperson, confirmed the meeting but refused to comment further.
“Yes we held the meeting, but I can’t discuss such issues with the media.” Parirenyatwa said.
Mahiya refused to comment.
“I am at the farm,” he said. “My phone has a problem. I am not hearing you clearly.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa was not picking calls.
Insiders said the war veterans wanted to pass a vote of no confidence in Chiwenga before the 2023 polls.
“The war veterans loyal to Mnangagwa are plotting the ouster of VP Chiwenga,” a war veteran, who requested anonymity said.
“The war veterans think VP Chiwenga is behind the group of war veterans protesting over poor pensions to discredit Mnangagwa and alienate him from the former fighters, who are the king makers in the ruling party.”
The ex-combatants, known for their strong backing of the ruling Zanu PF party dating back to Robert Mugabe’s rule, have since August this year staged several protests against the government over poor pension earnings and other issues of their welfare.
In September, nine war veterans were detained after protesting against poor pay-outs.
They were clandestinely released from police cells at the middle of the night without charge. It is alleged Chiwenga ordered their release.
Mutsvangwa accused a Zanu PF faction known as G40 and the MDC Alliance of inciting war veterans to protest against government.
He organised a meeting later that month where the same war veterans pledged allegiance to Mnangagwa and dismissed allegations that they were no longer united.
But in October, the same war veterans protested again, leading to the arrest of 39 of them. They are out on $5 000 bail each.
Chiwenga has repeatedly denied accusations that he is plotting against Mnangagwa.
He is the country’s sole VP after his counterpart Kembo Mohadi was forced to resign early this year after he was embroiled in a sex scandal.
There were reports at the time that Mohadi, who retained his senior position in Zanu PF, was a victim of renewed factionalism in the ruling party.