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Fistfights break out at war vets meeting

by Richard Muponde and Vusumuzi Dube
25 Oct 2015 at 08:13hrs | Views
The Minister of War veterans Christopher Mutsvangwa (left) and Zanu-PF Politburo member Angeline Masuku (right) listen to former freedom fighter Jane Ngwenya during a visit to her home at Edith Duly Nursing Home in Bulawayo yesterday
FISTFIGHTS broke out at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association meeting at the ex-fighters' Bulawayo headquarters in Entumbane after a group allegedly hired by the association's Council of Elders member, George Mlala, tried to disturb the meeting by singing derogatory songs against the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Political Detainees and Restrictees, Chris Mutsvangwa.

The commotion ensued after the arrival of Mutsvangwa at the venue, when a group of women and men arrived aboard a commuter omnibus and started singing demeaning songs against him, warning him against endorsing the Cephas Ncube-led executive. Members aligned to the Ncube executive then blocked the group from entering the office premises where they wanted to confront the Minister and there was pushing and shoving before the exchange of blows.

Two of the women sustained visible injuries, with blood oozing from their mouths. The pandemonium only stopped after the intervention of the police and the suspected Mlala group was driven off from the venue.

However, the meeting went ahead without any other incident and the Ncube-led executive was endorsed by the national executive led by Mutsvangwa, who is also the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association national chairman.

In his address, which set the tone for the creation of business opportunities for the former freedom fighters, Mutsvangwa castigated the group which caused chaos at the meeting.

"This is not the time to fight. This executive led by Ncube is my executive. I urge all those people who have grievances against this executive to just forget," said Mutsvangwa.

"These people should go hang. They should back off. If you see people fighting for positions, it is a sign of poverty. They want to get the positions so that they enrich themselves. They should not come here and cause chaos. Let them go hang."

Mlala and the rival group led by Roy Maphosa are refusing to recognise the Ncube-led executive, accusing it of having links with ousted war veterans leader Mr Jabulani Sibanda.

Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa and the provincial war vet's leadership visited veteran freedom fighter and one of the pioneers of the armed struggle, Jane Ngwenya at an old people's home in Bulawayo where she is  staying. The Minister took the opportunity to give Ngwenya feedback on what his ministry is doing to improve the plight of former freedom fighters.

"We are here because we know that Ngwenya is a fountain of knowledge; one of our elders who we look up to for advice on all our programmes," said the Minister.

Ngwenya called on war vets to be united and not be easily swayed by issues which could divide them.

In Matabeleland South, Mutsvangwa addressed hundreds of war veterans in Gwanda town where he emphasised the need for the association to develop new means of making money rather than always relying on Treasury.

"I know all the problems we are facing as war vets. These range from late payment of school fees, pension and lack of access to health facilities. As your minister and chairperson I thus have come up with a programme where we want to turn war vets into businesspeople; we will form a trust that will look into all this. What we are saying is that there is increased confidence in our country's economy which has seen investors from all over the world flocking to invest.

What we aim to do is take advantage of this and try to clinch as much deals as possible for war vets, which will see us no longer continually begging for money from the Finance Ministry," said Mutsvangwa.

The Minister revealed that as a first step they had since completed the signing of a deal that would see them purchasing 10 buses for each province that will be run by the association.

"I have spoken to the association's patron, President Mugabe and he has thrown his weight on all these projects. I am so committed to this endeavour so much that if in the next 12 months there is nothing tangible I am prepared to resign from my ministerial post and also relinquish my position in the association because I would have failed. I know that there are some of you who doubt whether this is possible but I plead with you to be patient and support me. There are a lot of opportunities that we can venture into, ranging from mining and even commercial farming, all that is needed is for us to tap into these resources," said the Minister.

Source - sundaynews