War vets push for more cash

HARARE - War veterans are pushing government for more money and a stake in the mainstream economy.

The issue was revived in the Senate on Thursday when MDC Matabeleland North Senator Phyllis Ndlovu asked the Defence and War Veterans minister to explain what government was doing towards paying the war veterans more money as was promised during former president Robert Mugabe’s era.

Ndlovu, who is also a war veteran, said among some of the promises, was government’s commitment to pay school fees for war veterans’ children.

“The money that we are being given as compensation every month is US$200. My question is, they still have some outstanding payments that they have not paid us, which they have been saying they will pay us.

“What are you going to do to the honourable members and all the war veterans whom you owe? This is because the US$200 that you are giving to the war veterans is not even able to buy medication. What are you going to do for the welfare of the war veterans?” Ndlovu queried.

Deputy War Veterans minister Victor Matemadanda said: “We spoke about this issue when the former president was there. They used to indicate that there was not enough and it is still the same thing they are saying. The question that you asked is what is it that we are going to do? Are we going to be singing the same song that there is not enough money so that the welfare of the veterans can be improved?

“I am happy that even the other side of the House which is the opposition seems to be showing interest in this. I am not the minister of War Veterans only, but I am also the minister of Defence and War Veterans.

“When they talk about the issues to do with money for the ministry of Defence, I will request that both sides of the House should support knowing that the other money is supposed to be allocated to the war veterans,” Matemadanda said.

The war veterans have been an integral part of the ruling party and have been instrumental in waging a brutal campaign against the opposition over the years.
Matemadanda said war veterans, war collaborators and detainees must also have a say in the economy.

“You realise that we have been doing public hearings with people from the Reserve Bank whereby they have said they are going to sponsor projects and programmes for war veterans. Our request is that if the money is allocated to the war veterans and when the war veterans receive it, they should be capacitated to start businesses,” he said.

He, however, said the war veterans must be assisted in terms of how to use the money that they get from government to enable them to sustainably benefit from these handouts.

“What should happen is that we should have money so that these war veterans live well.  They are getting $200 and after the 2 percent tax, it means there is nothing. 
As a nation, we should ensure that they get enough to sustain themselves,” he said.

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