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'Over 20 000 Zipra cadres left in the cold'

by Staff reporter
03 Apr 2019 at 11:59hrs | Views
OVER 20 000 former Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadres were deliberately left out of the vetting process by government.

This was revealed by Zipra secretary-general Petros Sibanda soon after their weekend meeting in the city where the issue of their stolen properties and vetting process topped the agenda.

Zipra,-PF Zapu's military wing during the liberation struggle, claims that previous vetting processes to determine the war veterans status of freedom fighters has been biased towards Zanla, the former military wing of then Zanu-PF.

This, Zipra says, has left out some of the deserving fighters who even lost a limb and an arm in the trenches.
"We have an issue that we have kept raising with the government about the vetting process of some of our members who were left out.

"From our research and investigation that we carried out we figured out that over 20 000 Zipra cadres were side-lined in the country's vetting process of former liberation fighters.

"What this basically means is that despite their clear contribution to the liberation of this country they still cannot access pensions or any support from government like those who were vetted," Sibanda said.

Sibanda said it has been the norm that Zipra and Zapu's outstanding fighters have been reduced to villains at every opportunity, while Zanu-PF villains are accorded hero status.

In 2016, Zapu and Zipra embarked on a programme to honour unsung fallen ex-combatants who were denied hero status for various reasons by the then president Robert Mugabe regime.

Several of Matabeleland and Zapu liberation war stalwarts like Mabuza, Richard Dube, Amos Ngwenya and former Zipra commander Lookout Masuku are buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery with no national hero recognition.

The Zipra cadres, however, said they have on numerous occasions engaged government but with no reprieve.
"The government has never turned our plea down but I would rather say they have been romantic giving us promises and hopes that will never take place.

"We recently met with Defence and War Veterans deputy minister Victor Matemadanda but nothing came up. I am sure it's high time we take the bull by its horns and ensure that we try and help some of our colleagues who are languishing in poverty despite their well-documented contribution to the freedom of this country," Sibanda said.

He, however, said there was also a substantial number of Zipras who didn't get vetted after they fled the country at the height of 1980s Gukurahundi disturbances.
"We have a lot of people who fled this country and we need them to come back and enjoy the fruits of what they fought for."
Efforts to get a comment from Matemadanda were fruitless.  

However, former War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube while he admitted that there might be some who didn't get vetted he said he was in doubt that the number could go up to 20 000.
"It is something difficult to say, I really don't know why they were not vetted because it was not an exceptional process, whoever qualified was being vetted.

"But what I can say is that some were reluctant to go for vetting soon after the 1980s political disturbances, they were afraid that maybe there would be problems for them and also some had jumped into the countryside hence they missed on the process.

"Generally, I don't think the number can be that big for those who didn't get vetted," Dube who said he was in charge of the Zipra, selection, integration and demobilisation soon after independence told Southern News.

In 1997, angry war veterans    pressured Mugabe to pay them ZW$50 000 gratuities and other benefits for their role in the liberation struggle.

While war veterans have been a vital cog of the ruling Zanu-PF during elections, spearheading the party's campaigns, those from the Zipra side have refused preferring to lean with the opposition, perhaps due to the manner in which they have been treated.

Source - dailynews