Commentary By Edward Zvavareyi
I have always wondered and had a feeling something is amiss about Jabulani Sibanda, the “war veteran.”
To begin with he leaves a trail of more questions than answers, especially regarding his war veteran status. If his age is correctly stated, according to my research, he was born on 31 December 1970.
I therefore am surprised how this man ended up with the war veteran status. By calculation, in 1980 he was barely 10 years old.
It just does not add up to imagine that before he became active on the frontline he had to undergo some form of training in a foreign land (only very few freedom fighters gained their formal training on the battle zone).
The famous cease-fire leading to independence in Zimbabwe was called in 1979. He must have been 7 years old then.
As Mugabe was the commander and first secretary it is only him who could have sanctioned someone of 7 years of age to be released to fight on the frontline.
His age was so restrictive to any formal of training no matter what form of motivation and guidance and counselling. He certainly would have been just very young and frail only fit to be accorded status, to be a fighter.
A lot of refugees returned after independence and many of them were caught out when they tried to claim demob and compensation, even though some escaped the net and managed to receive the money.
It is widely reported that there has been a big number of people who had never been to war that took advantage of the chaotic ceasefire and dubiously claimed to be freedom fighters.
They soon were in the assembly points and started to benefit from the demob money through the corruption that started way back then.
Of course some were hauled along by many war veterans themselves who believed it to be the best way to pay back the support and loyalty they received from war collaborators (vana mujibha navana chimbwido).
A sorry situation had arisen for no one dared to question anything that looked amiss and out of place. Remember that was the assembly of the liberators: one would quickly be reminded that these war veterans could not have achieved anything successfully without the backing of the villagers.
It is clear that corruption had began to set its roots from the onset hence; it is now an uphill task to try and uproot it now, unless some better mechanical means are employed.
Jabulani Sibanda was the war veterans` national chairman. He was demoted in 2003 amid serious allegations of organising and attending a rebel meeting dubbed the “Tsholotsho Dinyane Indaba” that produced the Tsholotsho Declaration.
The meeting was also attended by the likes of the then Minister of Information and other top ZANU PF officials, such as Emerson Mnangagwa, who was supposedly being put forward by the group for the vice presidency against President Mugabe’s choice, Joice Mujuru.
When the details of that meeting were let out of the bag, this overzealous and apparently brainless chairman was stopped in his tracks and suspended.
No doubt he has been under the spotlight of the CIO. Professor Moyo was ejected from Zanu (PF) and six provincial Zanu (PF) chairmen lost their posts, accused of of bringing the ruling party into disrepute.
In a perfection of the Zanu PF patronage system, Mugabe made sure Sibanda was stripped of all he had gained through hook and crook and the farm invasions; he was made to understand how ruthless Matibili is.
He was even stripped of his membership of ZANU PF, and, as recently reiterateda Vice-President Joseph Msika, “Sibanda was expelled from the Party a long time ago. He has no mandate to campaign for the Party or its president. He has to stop. The Zimbabwean Liberation War Veterans’ Association, which Sibanda purportedly operates under operates under the umbrella of ZANU PF. So because he was expelled from the Party, he must not lead that organisation.”
Clearly, despite that status quo, it is clear that Robert Mugabe has turned a blind eye on this matter, and pulled the now desperate Sibanda closer to campaign for him since he was sure that Zanu (PF) was about to dump him.
Tsholotsho had showed him that Zanu PF was about to dump him and there was no-one among the war vets who he could call on as the war vets are also still waiting to get their share of the farm invasions spoils.
That truly reflects a situation where this wayward leader is climbing a tree from the top instead of from the bottom. Even if he were to be reinstated it is clear that he would not assume leadership after that kind of negative publicity.
In acute defiance to the order from VP Joseph Msika, he has vowed that he will continue to lead the war vets association by force. It appears no-one else can make any decision in terms of any thing, no matter how big or small. It is only the Grand Commader who has the final word.
Had Robert Mugabe called for an immediate end to Jabulani Sibanda`s antics it is commonplace that he would still be confined to the dustbin of history. It is an open secret that his demotion and demise was of his own making and he is now trying to make amends.
He had made himself number one enemy, but in a Machiavallian masterstroke Mugabe has pulled him in in an acrobatic stunt that has caught his party unawares – but Mugabe knows he has nothing to lose since he had already lost the support of the Matebeleland leadership anyway. What he needs now is force and he has found someone willing to deliver that force.
Jabulani Sibanda’s surveillance by the CIO has now been turned into support from the CIO since the CIO works for Mugabe and not necessarily for the nation or for any other organ of government.
Suddenly he is on the right side of the law. Noone in the own wits can dare stop him now, no matter how illegitimate he may be - a loose canon in the truest sense of the word.
All Matibili is keen to hear is praise-singing from file and rank. Some years back some minister stooped so low to record praise songs for the tyrant in a never-ending decline to of Zimbabwe to ruins.
Mugabe won’t entertain any talk of his relinquishing the leadership as he thinks he is the special one. Sibanda knows that he is dealing with a demented “Master” whose days are numbered and I do not blame him for making hay as this sun shines.
The lion is wounded. As Mathuthu Mthulisi of “newzimbadwe.com” put it: “Today Mugabe finds himself having to fire literally everybody in his party and in the intelligence service.
“If President Robert Mugabe was indeed a brilliant politician he would read that the meaning of Tsholotsho and the Chiyangwa debacle were nothing but the indicators that he was the main problem.”
Mugabe will never forgive and forget remember the Dinyane Indaba , Cde…..eh er… is it deposed chairman, Mugabe will get you when time is ripe.
E. ZvavareyiMDC (Birmingham UK)