Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was previously removed from his position as Chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) earlier this year, has now been appointed as a Cabinet minister responsible for the welfare of former combatants.
This unexpected move has the potential to spark conflict between Mutsvangwa and his former adversaries.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced this appointment as part of his new Cabinet lineup at the State House in Harare on Monday. Mutsvangwa’s new portfolio is Minister of War Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.
Political analysts are concerned that this appointment may exacerbate existing animosity between Mutsvangwa and the former guerrilla fighters.
The decision to place him in charge of the welfare of war veterans, who played a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, could be seen as controversial given his previous ousting.
Norest Lemani, a political commentator, believes that Mutsvangwa’s personal grievances with the individuals who removed him from the ZNLWVA leadership could hinder progress in improving the welfare of war veterans.
He suggests that the appointment may not lead to any substantial improvements in the veterans’ living conditions.
In April, Mutsvangwa was removed from his position as Chairman of the ZNLWVA, with allegations of unprofessionalism and a failure to enhance the livelihoods of war veterans.
The decision was made in consultation with the government, and it was argued that the ZNLWVA’s constitution mandated the election of a new national executive after a five-year term, which had lapsed during Mutsvangwa’s tenure.
Ethan Matibela, Vice Chair of the National Interim Committee established by the war veterans, noted at the time that the lack of professionalism, interference, and a lack of clear programs had prompted the move to remove Mutsvangwa.
He also highlighted the dire living conditions of many war veterans, despite the presence of former comrades in government.
Matibela praised the late former chairperson Chengerai Hunzvi for advocating that the government provide war veterans with $50,000 gratuity each, but argued that more needed to be done to address the veterans’ needs, including healthcare and housing.
Mutsvangwa’s new role overseeing the welfare of war veterans will undoubtedly be closely watched, given the history of tensions within the ZNLWVA and the broader political landscape in Zimbabwe.
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