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Zimbabwe war vets blame govt as life gets tough

by Staff reporter
19 May 2024 at 11:46hrs | Views
VETERANS of the liberation struggle have decried neglect by the government at a time they are are earning US$120 in monthly pensions despite a deepening socio-economic crisis which has left them vulnerable and bitter.

The war vets, who have been a vital cog in Zanu-PF's election campaigns and have in some cases been accused of using brute force to bolster support for the ruling party, especially in the early 2000s, told The NewsHawks through their executive that the majority were living like paupers.

Despite their support for the ruling party, war veterans have constantly been at loggerheads with the government over their welfare, which has been deteriorating following the erosion of their pensions and other benefits due to chronic high inflation.

They are entitled by law to pension, basic healthcare and education, according to the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12] of 2020.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA) however says the meagre pension payouts to the freedom fighters were of concern.

"The situation of war veterans is pathetic," Edward Dube, the information and publicity secretary in the veterans' executive committee, told The NewsHawks.

"War veterans are earning US$120 which is below the poverty datum line. The majority of them are lodgers and others are being chased away from farms on the pretext that they are not producing.

"There are no facilities for empowerment. The constitution and the Act say that war veterans should be respected, but we do not know now if this respect is supposed to be in verbal terms only."

Dube's words were echoed by Fredrick Ngombe, the ZNLWVA information secretary for the Harare provincial chapter, in a statement. He said the government has done little to attend to health and physical needs of the ex-combatants.

"We are united by our common suffering with some of us still traumatised by our combat experiences with no meaningful rehabilitation whatsoever. The majority were left to their own devices. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to fester amongst most of our comrades and this is of serious concern to us as an Association," Ngombe said.

"The economic and natural vagaries that plague the country today and it is the focus of the ZNLWVA to navigate ways that mitigate against these natural and man-made challenges."

"As an association we are not pleading for handouts but for facilitation to engage in empowerment programmes to become self-dependent and self-sufficient, thereby making it possible for the national fiscus to cater for other equally deserving demands of society."

The ZNLWVA lamented the war veterans' lack of incorporation in the social, economic and governance matrix of Zimbabwe.

"We feel pained, not jealous, when some in society enjoy the fruits of our sacrifices whilst we are marginalised," reads the statement.

"True the majority of ex-fighters lack the professional capacities of other patriots who had every opportunity to excel in their respective fields of endeavour whilst for us such opportunities were nipped in the bud by the armed struggle and, to exacerbate the problem, little or no post-traumatic stress disorder rehabilitation was done to successfully reintegrate us into society, making it practically impossible for our majority to acquire life empowerment skills."

War veterans have been complaining over unfulfilled promises.

For instance, war veterans, have been griping over stalling of an ambitious project to build hospitals to cater for war veterans in partnership with the government.

In 2015, the government  struck a partnership with war veterans-owned company Hospital Industrial and Scientific Investments (Private) Limited (HISI), to build hospitals across the country.

The project was also supposed to promote medical tourism while catering for health complications like kidney transplants that are being conducted in India and other countries.

According to the shareholder agreement between HISI and Power Zimbabwe, the war veterans' company was supposed to establish a chain of 10 University Memorial Hospitals, one in each province, along with a Medical Tourism Hospital in Victoria Falls City. However, the project has stalled since 2015, raising an outcry from the ex-combatants.

War veterans' welfare has raised a stink over the years, with former War Veterans and Liberation Struggle Affairs minister Chris Mutsvangwa having been at loggerheads with the ex-combatants ,  who believe he did little to improve their welfare and incorporation into the development matrix.

In February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked Mutsvangwa, who had been his key ally, but did not give reasons.

While Mutsvangwa says he played a key role in Mnangagwa's ascendency in the 2017 military coup, he had been on a collision course with war veterans over the years, having been fired as chairperson of the ZNLWVA in April last year.

The ex-fighters have also been quick to remind new War Veterans minister Monica Mavhunga of their deteriorating welfare, indicating their growing concern and disgruntlement.


Source - newshawks
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