Promote local artists, Parly urges govt

HARARE - This week Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed concern at the awarding of a tender to a Korean company for construction of the late the Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s statue.

Legislators from the parliamentary portfolio committee on Education, Sports, Arts and Culture grilled Godfrey Mahachi executive director of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe on the criteria used to award the tender to a foreign company, leaving out indigenous companies.

Zanu PF Hurungwe West MP, Temba Mliswa, who is chairperson of the committee, recused himself from hearing the probe into how construction of the Joshua Nkomo statue ended up being constructed by a North Korean company when the tender had been awarded to a local sculptor David Mutasa.

Mliswa is a cousin to Mutasa.

Oliver Mandipaka, Zanu PF MP for Buhera chaired the committee as Mahachi failed to justify the decision to leave out Mutasa and a host of local sculptors.

“We want to know how you gave the tender to a Korean company and do they have the historical background of the late Vice President Nkomo and do we expect other statues to be completed?” queried Mandipaka.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe is a department under the ministry of Home Affairs.

Mahachi said the construction of the statue had started during the Zimbabwe dollar era and was estimated to cost Z$16 billion. It was being handled by the local sculptors before it was given to the Korean company.

The company was paid $300 000 for the construction of the four statues and one being erected at the intersection of JM Nkomo Street and 8th Avenue in Bulawayo, and was officially unveiled by President Robert Mugabe on Unity Day, December 22, 2013.

Bulawayo-based civic society groups protested at the initial erection of the statue in 2010 after it emerged that it had been built by North Koreans.

North Korea trained members of the notorious Fifth Brigade accused of killing more than 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and some parts of Midlands during the Gukurahundi era in the early 1980s.

MPs urge Mugabe to look into war veterans welfare

Legislators called on the president to re-establish a ministry responsible for the welfare of war veterans as well as resuscitating the war veteran’s fund.

The motion was moved by Zanu PF MPs Ronald Mudzeredzwa (Buhera Central) and Mapetere Mawere (Zaka West) who said they were touched by the plight of war veterans with regards to their welfare.

They also demanded that government establishes empowerment programmes for the benefit of the liberation war veterans. 

Acting speaker of the National Assembly William Mutomba had a difficult time trying to control the emotions of the legislators who argued that government had been neglecting their welfare for a long time.

“There are war veterans’ ministries in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola and why not here in Zimbabwe,” queried Mawere adding: “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 scars on my legs he will understand it, not someone who never fought in the war.”

“When I am talking about war veterans’ issues, I am not speaking as a legislator, but as a war veteran. We have young children who are still going to school who need school fees but there is no support from government in this regard,” Mawere a liberation war veteran said.

He went on to say; “The monthly upkeep, as a 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.”

Minister of finance Patrick Chinamasa allocated $18 million to the war veterans as a department in the ministry of Defence, which the legislators claim is a far cry from the $58 million they initially asked for.

He was supported by legislators Tendai Makunde (Murehwa South), Oliver Mandipika (Buhera West) who both lamented the plight of war veterans saying some were living like paupers.

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. The fund was then abused by many politicians and war veterans claiming huge sums of money.

It was suspended pending an investigation that high-level government officials and their relatives looted more than Z$112 billion (approximately US$450 million).

Violent demonstrations and riots by veterans of Zimbabwe’s civil war, a key constituency of the president and his Zanu PF party, prompted Mugabe to pay out more than Z$501 billion dollars (US$2 billion) in unbudgeted funds to placate the veterans.

Presently, war veterans are under the Defence ministry but war veterans said they wanted to be separated and have their own ministry to cater for their needs.

The legislators also blamed Treasury for not providing enough funds to support them in terms of money for education, burial and medical allowances and money to start income generating projects.

War veterans who are feeling the pinch of the liquidity crunch also demanded that government review their monthly allowances, which is $165 a pittance against the $500 plus poverty datum line.

Mawere said they were asking for a review of their pensions to the poverty datum line pegged at $500.

He said the $50 000 they received in 1997 as pension had long exhausted as they have not received any other benefit from the state for past 15 years.

The veterans of the liberation struggle of the 1970’s said if granted mine concessions they would use proceeds from diamonds to improve their welfare.

War veterans are men and women pivotal members of Zanu PF and drawn from armed forces of Zipra and Zanla forces of the 70’s that led to the independence of the country in 1980.

Parly signs MoU with Wipsu

Parliament this week signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) and Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (Sapst).

Jacob Mudenda Speaker of National Assembly signed on behalf Parliament, with John Makamure representing Sapst and Moira Ndaru chairperson of Wipsu.

The MoU runs until 2018 when the Eighth Parliament will end its tenure as the organisations will be partnering Parliament in empowering MPs in developmental programmes and helping them to carry out their work and bringing Parliament closer to the people.

The two organisations will provide technical and financial support to Parliament programmes.

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