Party leaders consider him a renegade, but he commands a lot of support from the grassroots.
He clinched the powerful post of chairman of the war veterans association against all odds. At the time he was even under suspension from the ruling ZANU-PF.
And, just recently, he was barred from contesting the post of party chairman for Bulawayo province, but Jabulani Sibanda says he “won” the polls.
The controversial war veterans leader dismissed reports that he had been elbowed out of the chairmanship race arguing that he had made it clear that he was not going to contest when the party leadership told him not to.
Sibanda was provincial chairman for Bulawayo until January last year when he was suspended from the party for being dictatorial and intolerant. He was also alleged to be ignoring party protocol and undermining everyone including himself.
The war veterans leader was also allegedly being used by politicians who harboured presidential ambitions to garner support for them in the province while at the same time discrediting the local party leadership, especially the former ZAPU old guard.
Though the national disciplinary committee of the party had recommended that he be expelled, this was shot down by the central committee.
Sibanda said his position on the recent provincial elections was very clear. “I clearly stated that my concept of leadership is not to maintain followers, but to lead followers back to the leadership. Everyone was born to lead. I thought I had made it very clear that having been a leader I was ready to let someone take over. And that is what happened.”
The provincial elections were won by Themba Ncube, the Bulawayo war veterans leader. It was because of this that Sibanda felt he had won because his colleagues had swept the elections.
Sibanda said some leaders in ZANU-PF did not believe that anyone could lead the party. They believed that some people were born to lead and others to follow.
“When you say everyone is born to lead, this causes fear among some leaders especially the insecure ones because they derive their security from the insecurity of others,” Sibanda said.
He said ZANU-PF leaders had tried to create insecurity in his mind because he had insisted that he did not want to fit into their corrupt system but they had failed.
He said the biggest problem in ZANU-PF at the moment was that people were not abiding by the party constitution. There were some who had become bigger than the constitution.
“People are not subjecting themselves to the constitution. They are subjecting themselves to individuals, yet the constitution of the party is supreme,” he said.
“A party is a group of people who may not think alike but they must exist under the guidance of the constitution. But there are some people who think they are bigger than the constitution. When they say something, their word is final.
“They go about collecting as many political pygmies as possible and put them into positions so that they can pull them down as and when they want. This way they become giants, like a gum tree among knee-level shrubs. This is what I am against and this is why some people in the party do not like me. I am not a party official, but a party activist,” Sibanda said.
He said some of the leaders were not only violating the constitution, but the will of the people as well. This is why though the leadership tried to bar him from attending the party’s national conference in Masvingo he thumbed Patrick Nyaruwata by 630 votes to 43 to clinch the national war veterans chairmanship a week later.
Sibanda also dismissed reports by the media that the elections in Bulawayo were delayed by six hours because of divisions centred on his candidature. He said the delay was caused by some leaders who were trying to bargain power sharing in the new executive.
“Some leaders wanted the 102 posts in the executive to be shared 50-50, but the people refused. And in the end, the people’s will prevailed. The delay was not about my candidature at all. I was not even in Bulawayo. I was in Victoria Falls where I was addressing a rally,” Sibanda said.
He refused to discuss factionalism in Bulawayo province arguing that divisions were not only confined to Bulawayo but were nation-wide. He said the root cause of these divisions was that some people were not subjecting themselves to the party constitution or were deliberately violating it.
“We have problems in Mashonaland West over Kindness Paradza because the constitution was not followed. If people had followed the constitution, they would have discovered what type of person Paradza was before selecting him to represent the party,” he said.
Sibanda said the same applied to Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri, who is currently facing charges of externalising money and having dual citizenship.
He queried how a Canadian citizen ended up being one of the top people in government when Canada was among the first countries to call for sanctions against Zimbabwe and to withdraw aid from the country.