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'Govt has neglected us,' says war vets

by Staff reporter
05 Jun 2023 at 06:55hrs | Views
DISGRUNTLED veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle are clamouring for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration to improve their measly monthly allowances and pay-outs to surviving spouses and children.

The former freedom fighters accuse the current government of turning a blind eye to their welfare, which has for long remained a cause for concern.

Speaking at the burial of liberation heroine, Sarah Zvidza, at Chinhoyi Heroes' Acre last week, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) provincial chairman, Cornelia Muwoni said members of his organisation were living in abject poverty despite sacrificing their lives in the liberation war.

"I feel saddened to speak at this shrine where we bury illustrious sons and daughters who sacrificed to liberate our country.

"We continue to ask what government is doing for them as the status quo demonstrates that the same government which purports to recognise war veterans' contributions is turning a blind eye on them," said Muwoni.

The ZNLWVA chairman said the executive, just like in the case of the late heroine, was neglecting ailing war veterans, ex-detainees and collaborators who are "poor" and struggling to get medical treatment and burdening families paying hospital bills.

"In her time of need, where was the government? Was it, not her family, and not the government, that carried the burden, using money out of their pockets? Government seemed not worried about the contribution she made to free this country."

He added that the US$500 government once-off payouts given to cover funeral expenses upon the death of war veterans were "meaningless" and too little considering the high costs of goods and services.

"War veterans were not demanding to be pampered with hefty perks such as those of ministers and top executives, but asking for stipends that match the rising cost of commodities in order to live comfortably," Muwoni reiterated.

He also urged government to be sincere in its quest to empower former liberation fighters by extending free mining concessions and hedge the 20% land quota for war veterans, who are daily being dispossessed of allocated farms.

"We are disgruntled because we have genuine concerns. This word must be relayed to the top (President) and this must not be misconstrued as a rebellion. We don't want to be pampered like what happens to those in the executive but we demand sustainable payouts," said Muwoni.

Veterans of the 1970s war were in 1997 awarded Z$50 000 gratuities each by then President Robert Mugabe's administration after embarking on a series of protests.

The unbudgeted payouts saw the local dollar losing value by 70 percent in one day, and analysts say the move signalled the country's well-documented economic collapse.

Now 26 years later, the ageing ex-combatants argue government was meant to have paid them ZWL500 000 each in 1997, but up to date, they have not received the balance.

Apart from money, they were pressing for diamond mining concessions and parliamentary seats.

Source - NewZimbabwe
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