The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Lincoln Towindo
President Mugabe has dismissed War Veterans Minister Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa from Cabinet, replacing him with his deputy, Colonel (Retired) Tshinga Dube.
This follows Ambassador Mutsvangwa’s three-year suspension from the ruling Zanu-PF for misconduct and disloyalty.
Rtd Col Dube was sworn into office by the President at State House in Harare yesterday.
And after the ceremony, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda told The Sunday Mail: “(Cde Mutsvangwa) has been relieved of his duties as Cabinet minister, and official communication to this effect was sent to him on Friday. The reasons for his departure were linked to the decision made by the Politburo last Thursday.”
The Politburo found Ambassador Mutsvangwa guilty of undermining the authority of Zanu-PF’s President and First Secretary, and insulting the First Family.
He will not hold any party position during his suspension, though he can remain a Zanu-PF member and National Assembly representative.
In his State of the Nation Address last month, President Mugabe blasted the ex-combatants leader for organising an illegal war veterans meeting and failing to notify him of his intentions as patron.
Said the President: “Mutsvangwa did not inform me, the VPs or security ministers about the war veterans meeting. We take exception to that. He has acted in a manner we describe as irresponsible, completely irresponsible.
“People were naturally hurt or at least they had this water from cannons come on their bodies and teargas as well. Mutsvangwa bears responsibility for inviting war veterans to an illegal meeting. He abused his authority as minister in the gravest way possible. We take exception to that.”
Minister Dube told journalists that his immediate task was to unite war veterans and improve their welfare.
“We are not supposed to recognise any faction. What we are trying to do is bring these people together so that we can manage them properly.
“Just imagine: If we have many factions, not just two, and collaborators also split into factions and restrictees do the same … So, we want to unite these war veterans, persuading them to work together. Division has never achieved any success.
“We all know it is difficult to superintend divided people.
‘‘I cannot support any faction; all I am trying to do is persuade them to see the sense in coming together so as to create a proper structure for them.”
The minister spoke of his “many dreams for war vets”, adding that adequate planning should go into the proposed meeting between war veterans and their patron, President Mugabe.
“I think (the meeting will go on), but these things need a lot of preparation because we have many war veterans – 34 000. We can’t bring all of them to Harare, so we need to get representatives.
“His Excellency says he is ready to meet them this coming week, but this might also be postponed until such a time when all preparations have been made.”
Hailing from Matopo, the new minister became politically active after leaving school, joining the liberation struggle in 1961.
He stayed in Zambia where he held different positions in Zapu until 1964 when he went for military training in Russia aged 22.
On his return, he was immediately deployed to the war front in the then Southern Rhodesia where he majored in communications and commissariat work.
He remained at the front for a year, but was eventually pressured to cross into Botswana by the Rhodesian forces, resulting in his arrest there.
Later he was to command a recruitment camp in Zambia and become a member of the Zipra High Command.
Minister Dube was conscripted into the Defence Forces at Independence in 1980 and then moved to the Defence Ministry where he was research and development director.
He was to then join the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
An engineer by profession, President Mugabe conferred him with the Grand Officer of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit on August 14, 2012.
He was appointed War Veterans, Ex-Political Detainess and Restrictees Welfare Services Deputy Minister in 2015 and now takes overall charge of the portfolio.