HARARE - Cephas Msipa has announced he is stepping down as patron of the Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Association (Zeppdra) saying he no longer had the mental or physical strength to carry out the job.
The retired and hugely-respected Zanu PF elder, 84, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months and has had to recognise his incapacity to adequately fulfil the role entrusted to him as patron of Zeppdra, which represents over 15 000 liberation war collaborators.
In a letter to War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, Msipa said he had been overwhelmed by the challenges facing the association, currently divided between two bitterly-opposed rival camps.
He leaves the office vacant until a successor is chosen.
“I hope you are aware that I have been patron of Zeppdra since its inception. There are a number of problems which you may have to look at as you can see from the attached letter,” Msipa said in his letter to Mutsvangwa.
The long-serving ex-Zanu PF politburo member complained that the warring association’s leadership, pointedly former chairman Victor Kuretu, did not respect him.
Kuretu and his deposed executive is locked in a leadership wrangle with a rival group led by interim secretary-general Percy Kuzvinzwa.
“Cde Kuretu ignored my recommendation under point seven of my letter and went ahead to hold elections which were hurriedly done after 12 years,” Msipa complained.
“Despite your busy schedule, I recommend that you meet the two groups and solve these problems besetting Zeppdra. As patron, I rely on moral suasion which is not enough. In any case, I am too old to be running around to solve these problems.”
The power struggles in Zeppdra can be traced back to 2013 after the association passed a vote of no confidence on the Kuretu-led executive amid allegations of incompetence, corruption and insubordination.
An ad hoc committee led by Francis Kunaka was set up to run the affairs of the association for three months pending congress.
The no confidence vote was passed in the presence Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, who was national chairman at the time.
The December 1, 2013 no confidence vote, according to minutes seen by the Daily News, was unanimously endorsed by over 200 members drawn from across the country.
The Kuzvinzwa interim executive has also written to Mutsvangwa discrediting Kuretu and his is executive as incompetent and for abusing the association’s Progressive Insurance funeral policy fund.
“Zeppdra’s position is that we want congress as soon as yesterday but first and foremost, we want you to appoint an independent board to run the association until the congress is held,” Kuzvinzwa wrote on August 25, 2015.
He said Zeppdra had not held a congress, audited its books, while the trust fund and the Insurance fund had not been audited since 2009.