Bulawayo-based war veterans have defended their former leader Jabulani Sibanda’s recent meeting with MDC president Nelson Chamisa, arguing the engagement was a sign of maturity among Zimbabwean politicians.
During his visit to the second largest city for a rally at White City Stadium two weeks ago, Chamisa met the former war veterans boss at his Nkulumane home, a move that was received with mixed feelings across the political spectrum.
Sibanda has been conspicuous by his silence and kept the nation guessing about his political career, despite the departure of Robert Mugabe’s government which had turned his life into “hell”.
He has also shunned the media in such a way that even details of his meeting with Chamisa have remained sketchy, with some speculating that the latter had gone to persuade him to join MDC, amid concerns that he was not qualified to join hands with the opposition.
But his fellow comrades in the liberation war trenches have defended him.
“About his meeting with Chamisa, people should stop being naïve, remember we are all Zimbabweans. We should not be divided by politics,” war vets provincial chair Cephas Ncube told Southern News.
Ncube, however, dismissed reports that Sibanda might cross the floor to the MDC Alliance.
“We need to be mature, I know him personally and he is not that character. People should know that there is life outside politics.
“So there was no problem with Chamisa meeting Jabu. That’s what we call maturity. That’s what we expect under the new political dispensation,” he said.
Ncube went on to extend an invitation to opposition parties to join Zanu PF in celebrating the Independence Day, a departure from the tradition under former president Robert Mugabe, whereby national events had been turned into Zanu PF events.
Contacted for comment, Sibanda said “I don’t want to talk, I will at the right time”.
The controversial politician has been maintaining a low profile since he was deposed as war veterans’ leader in 2014 for being discourteous to the former first family.
He was later on expelled from the party.
For his alleged transgressions, he was arrested and hauled before the courts, where the matter is still pending.
With President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power, many expected outspoken Sibanda to immediately bounce back into politics.
Sibanda is credited for organising Zanu PF’s first one million-man march in 2007 in solidarity with Mugabe, as well as unleashing terror in Masvingo around 2011.