War vets demand standalone ministry

HARARE - War veterans have demanded that President Robert Mugabe establishes a standalone ministry responsible for their welfare. They have also demanded a hike to their pensions.

This comes 16 years after they bullied the government into paying them billions of dollars in gratuities, which sent the dollar crashing, and the economy on a downward spiral.

The issue was raised by legislators in the Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services parliamentary portfolio committee chaired by Clifford Sibanda, the Zanu PF MP for Bubi, during post-budget consultations.

Sibanda had a torrid time trying to mollify agitated legislators led by Zanu PF MP for Buhera South Joseph Chinotimba, who argued that the government had neglected their welfare.

Chinotimba said most Zanu PF MPs should support his motion because they were also war veterans.

“There are war veterans’ ministries in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola and why not here in Zimbabwe?” queried Chinotimba. “We need our own ministry led by people who understand what we went through in the war, and if I show that person injuries and scar marks on my legs that I incurred in the war, he will understand it, not someone who has not fought the war.

“When I am taking about the war veterans’ issue I am not speaking as a legislator, but as a war veteran. We have young children who are still going to school and need to pay their school fees and hospital fees but there is no money that we are getting from government to support us.”

He continued: “The monthly upkeep, pension we are getting is too little and we have been crying out for a long time that we need government to help us but nothing has been happening.

“Our situation was much better in the 1990s when we had a ministry led by the late Witness Mangwende, but now it has changed as we are just a department in the ministry of Defence and no one is looking after us anymore.”

Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance minister, allocated $18 million to the war veterans as a department in the ministry of Defence, which the legislators claim was too little as the war veterans had asked for $58 million.

The Buhera South legislator got support across the political divide, with legislators Tendai Makunde (Murehwa South), Oliver Mandipika (Buhera West), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana) and Mapetere Mawere (Zaka west) rallying behind Chinotimba, who lamented that the war veterans were facing destitution.

In the 1990’s a ministry of war veterans was set up by Mugabe under the late Witness Mangwende which was responsible for the distribution of the War Victims Compensation Fund, which was later abused by many politicians and war veterans.

The War Victims Compensation Fund was suspended pending an investigation amid reports high-level government officials and their relatives looted more than Z$112 billion or an equivalent of $450 million.

Chinotimba said they were asking for a review of their pensions so that they are linked to the poverty datum line, currently pegged at $540.

Mugabe is patron of the war veterans, who wield immense influence in his ruling party because they are the centrepiece of its electioneering machine, waging violence and terror against the opposition at every election to ensure victory for the party.

The ex-combatants also spearheaded the government’s controversial land reform programme touted by Mugabe as his administration’s best achievement since coming to power in 1980, but blamed by critics for destroying the mainstay agricultural sector and causing food shortages.

Chinotimba said the Z$50 000 they received in 1997 as pension had long been exhausted as they have not received any benefit from the state over the past 15 years.

The veterans of the 70s liberation struggle also demanded mining concessions to improve their welfare.

Comments (5)

Chinotimba is not a war veteran but he was a refugee. he never fought the war. Chinamasa as Finance Minister must give people , ministries and war vets money from Chiadzwa diamonds why is he treating people at ransom ? He doesnt care about poeple welfare or is is dicing with the enemy/ sabotuoers? Why is he misbehaving as if he is not part of the cabinet?

MNK - 18 January 2014

real war vets are quite not even talking but fake ones like Jabu Sibanda they say he never passed fitness test and they sent him to Angola for further training but never went for battle fight.Ndivo varikutsikirira magrievances emaWarvets,Nditso mbavha.Where is diamonds money,mari yewenela.Our govt does not have human heart to its people but they have animal heart.Asi Mwari vachapindura

Kunamwari Kudenga - 18 January 2014

Tumadhara itotutu ndotwakauraya nyika just because they went to war. Ndozvamakarwira here kuti tidye nhoko dzezvironda sezvatirikuita. Ngavasapihwa kana cent vanorima minda yavakatora

John Mushona - 18 January 2014

War vets of Zimbabwe should be given an opportunity to learn from other countries how war vets ought to behave... then we will give them respect Otherwise idzi ndodzinoyi mhondi. Chokwadi kuenda moza kuuya kuzotipa nhamo isingaperi?

onslo - 19 January 2014

Money??? For what? Are they in the line of production? No. So why should these chimbwidoz keep making noise they want money? You work for your money, then get paid. Rimai minda yamakatora then moita mari from there mogovana.

Big Boss - 20 January 2014

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