Fungi Kwaramba 7 February 2017
HARARE – Agitated war veterans, who claim to be owed millions of dollars
in outstanding allowances by the government, say President Robert Mugabe
and not opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai should pay them their money as
the nonagenarian was the one who had benefited the most from their
liberation war efforts.
This comes as poverty, disease and neglect continue to claim the lives of
many genuine former freedom fighters, as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to
die – amid the ruling Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional
and succession wars.
The sentiments also follow the weekend’s Daily News interview with
Tsvangirai who said he would take good care of the war veterans once he is
elected into high office.
But a bitter spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association (ZNLWVA), Douglas Mahiya, said since the country attained its
independence from Britain in 1980, war veterans had been neglected by the
government, which had an obligation to look after them.
“Our children are not going to school and war veterans who were injured
during the liberation struggle are not getting treatment. Many are also
dying and not getting proper burials.
“War veterans programmes which were supposed to ease them back into
society were not fulfilled, and so what are they expected to do?
“Are we supposed to go back to Mozambique and ask them to rehabilitate us?
War veterans are suffering and it is only this Zanu PF government that
should address those problems.
“If Tsvangirai comes into power, it is not his responsibility to do this
because the MDC did not fight the war. It is Zanu PF’s responsibility to
solve these problem now,” Mahiya fumed.
Since the mid-1970s, war veterans have anchored Mugabe’s leadership of
Zanu PF, including the ruling party’s election campaigns after 1980 –
waging brutal campaigns against Tsvangirai and the MDC since 1999.
However, the former freedom fighters appear to have since had a Damascene
moment, and are now not only opposed to Mugabe, but are also warming up to
“Nothing has happened since June 7 last year, and government now owes us
more than $46 million. We are also not benefitting from the scholarships
that some are getting,” Mahiya said yesterday.
Last year, the government was forced to pay the disaffected war veterans
$6 million to cover first term school fees for their children, but Mahiya
said the figure was “a drop in the ocean”.
“When we went to war, we were fighting for Zimbabwe and if any leader
wants to observe the Constitution, he should pay us because that is the
right and legal thing to do.
“While the role we play is observed in the Constitution, this government
is failing to meet its obligations,” he added.