BATTLE LINES have been drawn between the Zimbabwe Government and the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) following attempts by the ministry responsible for the welfare of former freedom fighters to replace executive members expelled from Zanu PF recently, it has emerged.

War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube reportedly summoned the ZNLWVA treasurer, only identified as Ncube and six others to a meeting on Tuesday, with a proposal to replace chairperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa and five of his top lieutenants.

An angry former freedom fighters’ spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, told Dube to “stay away from our business”.

“We are aware that Dube and officials from his ministry, including permanent-secretary, Walter Tapfumaneyi, called our members to force them into a situation where they will replace the leadership or fill the gaps created by the expulsions.

“It is shocking that government is stooping this low. The association has nothing to do with government and, in any case, the State cannot be used as an arm of the party. Our constitution, as an association, does not require someone to be a member of Zanu PF in order for them to be part of ZNLWVA,” he said.

Mahiya threatened to take the government to court for interference and breach of the ZNLWA constitution.

“By the way, there is already an interdict against a group led by Mandi Chimene and it indicates that the same order applies to others,” he said.

Dube confirmed the meeting, which Mahiya alleged was also attended by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and State Security minister Kembo Mohadi.

“We would never force anyone. They (members of the ZNLWVA) approached us and there is now some movement towards replacing those who were expelled from the party,” Dube said, referring further questions to his permanent secretary, Tapfumaneyi.

“I asked Tapfumaneyi to issue a statement on the issue. Talk to him.”

Tapfumaneyi was not available for comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Mahiya accused Dube of pushing a factional agenda against war veterans in general and, in particular, the Mutsvangwa-led association.

“Dube is being used by G40 to make sure the history and legacy of the liberation struggle are completely erased. He is doing the bidding of his masters to keep his job. We have not heard the Ministry of Health making pronouncements on the leadership of the association of the blind,” he said.

“What is so special about war veterans, given we have heard declarations that freedom fighters have nothing to say about the politics and governance of Zanu PF or the country? On one hand, they are expelling war veterans and, on the other, they are nicodemously intruding into our affairs.”

Mahiya warned Dube will face resistance in his bid to meet the structures of the former fighters.

“Dube must stick to his mandate; his ministry has not said a word about the Zipra Veterans’ Association. He is not a minister for the association, but for all war veterans. We are aware that Dube is planning to tour the country to meet our structures, but he must be warned we will not be responsible for the reception he will meet,” he said.