PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Friday fired War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and immediately replaced him with his deputy Tshinga Dube.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mutsvangwa’s dismissal was revealed at Dube’s swearing in ceremony at State House yesterday.
“He was relieved of his duties yesterday [Friday],” principal director in the Information ministry Regis Chikowore told journalists .
Mutsvangwa, who is the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman, was last Thursday suspended from Zanu PF for three years for verbally abusing First Lady Grace.
He was suspended alongside his wife Monica and Zanu PF women’s league secretary for administration Espinah Nhari, whose crime was to chant an anti-G40, slogan at a rally addressed by Grace last year.
Grace is said to be the G40 kingpin while those fired or suspended from the party are said to be in Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction.
The Zanu PF politburo also expelled seven youth league provincial chairpersons over the fallout with Grace.
Mutsvangwa’s fate was sealed a fortnight ago when he tried to lead war veterans in a demonstration after the First Lady attacked the former fighters, Mnangagwa and the military at a rally in Chiweshe.
Grace accused Mnangagwa of trying to wrestle power from her husband. The demonstration by the war veterans was crushed by riot police who tear-gassed the former freedom fighters.
Mugabe was forced to make a televised address berating Mutsvangwa for organising an unsanctioned meeting and complained bitterly about Zanu PF officials that attacked his wife in public.
At his 92nd birthday celebrations, Mugabe also spoke against the growing attacks against the First Lady.
The new War Veterans minister, Dube said his ministry would embark on an exercise to “re-organise” the liberation war fighters.
“We are aware that the war veterans are divided, so are war collaborators and ex-detainees,” he said.
“There are divisions all over that could make it difficult for us to administer them. So we will maybe work on a programme to have them administered under a command structure like the army.
“Remember, these are trained people and we dream of a time when we can get them uniforms and medals.”
Dube, who was accompanied by his daughter and a granddaughter, said he did not know why Mugabe had summoned him to State House.
“I thought the president wanted me to brief him on some issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa yesterday suggested Grace was leading G40, claiming the group had a direct link to State House.
“They seem to know what is happening at State House [Mugabe’s official residence] that all other citizens do not know,” he said.
“They seem to have the privilege of proximity and there is a gradual subversion of the State.”
“They are using the analogy of a frog — that you cannot capture it and keep it in a bath tub,” he added.
“It will escape, but if you are clever you gradually add warm water into the tub.
“Being an amphibian, it will adjust and as the water gets hotter, the frog will adjust itself to death. That is what is happening in our country now.”
Mutsvangwa said after meeting Mugabe for two hours prior to the fateful politburo meeting, he felt he could not trust the 92 year old leader.
“I left with the million dollar question of whether I could trust him,” he said.
“The man I had trusted and served for 40 years was no longer there.
“I came out unsure of whether I could hang onto his word. I left with a distinct feeling of mistrust.”
Mutsvangwa said he was never given a chance to defend himself before he was suspended from the Zanu PF politburo.