War veterans leadership: Fish out of water?

via War veterans leadership: Fish out of water? – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 6, 2016

Around 10 000 war veterans, most between 50 and 70 years of age, and probably all that there are, may gather in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, to discuss their welfare. It would have been better, though, if the subject of their discussion was to be the welfare of their children, if not their grandchildren. The glacial pace of reform in Zimbabwe, including concluding the land reform programme and the related international re-engagement process to open needed global markets and unlock more sizeable and meaningful resource inflows in the order of $3 billion or more per annum, means most of them, and their age group in the country, will not live to see the Promised Land.

Tapiwa Nyandoro

This needs urgent correction. Over the two or three days they are meeting, it would have been better to spend time on strategic issues that bear fruit in the short, medium to long term, rather than tactical ones that buy time at the expense of long-term progress.

Press reports suggest the lowest-ranking liberation war veteran is on a $200 monthly pension. That is a prince’s ransom in a country where serving teachers and doctors hardly earn twice as much.

The veterans will find it morally difficult to ask for an increase. It would be a further betrayal of their revolutionary values, which are largely in tatters today.

The actions of members of the war veterans’ association, in particular the disgruntlement, suggest that some statutory benefits meant for them, such as the pension, are not being honoured given that government’s purse is stretched to breaking point. If that is the case, the war veterans are owed an apology and an explanation and government must revisit its priorities.

How to recover fiscal space should thereafter be on top of their strategic agenda. A simple resolution requesting the Executive to streamline government ministries to no more than 12 and reduce head count at ministerial level to the same number would go a long way in preparing an inheritance for the grandchildren. Downsizing of the legislature and other bloated institutions should be part of the exercise of building an inheritance. At present increasing debt is all that is waiting for future generations. There has been too much talk on ZimAsset, but too little action.

Corruption may be public enemy number one. There is no evidence, as in China, that it is being addressed holistically with culprits brought to book. Instead, the corrupt seem to be on a warpath with the revolutionary party and State capture the ultimate goals. There should be a specific detailed resolution on how corruption can be addressed, and how party and State capture can be prevented, if not reversed. The major culprits seem to be within the upper echelons of the ranks of the war veterans.

There is need for resolutions on how critical State institutions, such as the judiciary, parliament, police, the intelligence services and the army, can be strengthened independent of party politics, independent of politicians, other than through parliament and the rule of law.

Time has also come to ask the hard questions. Is Zanu PF really a private club? Where must loyalty ultimately lie: to the party or the country? Would the party have existed if there was no country?

All too often, when invoked, the phrase “in the State’s interest”, boils down to the party’s interest, or even worse, to an unholy cabal’s interest, hence the pervasive corruption and the disdain for the rule of law.

Within their political parties, they must be advocates for plurality, democracy and the freedom of speech. After all, that is what the majority of war veterans went to war for, as opposed to ensure opportunities to fleece the State and the poor. In the words of President John F Kennedy: Ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for it. Driving tangible reforms is one thing the war veterans can do for their country. That includes a relook of the indigenisation law, which is largely investment-repellant. A resolution to repeal it will be a show of boldness, contrition and courage.

And finally the issue of how to conclude land reform has to be time-framed. It is agreed the farmers are to be compensated. The resources to do so could be mobilised if a comprehensive strategy is tabled. That could unlock as much as US$10bn currently frozen in the dead asset that once was the 14 million hectares of commercial farmland.

The land that has been valued should be offered for sale to sitting tenants first, followed by diploma holders in agriculture and other resettled farmers who may have shown their mettle at, and aptitude in farming. Former white Zimbabwean farmers too need not be excluded. The issue of race as selection criteria for delivering service to the nation was never part of the struggle’s values. In fact, the opposite was the case but there had to be equitable distribution of national resources.

Thirty to 40-year mortgage bonds — insured in the case of those under 30 years of age and inheritable for those over 30 — have to be arranged to fund the purchase of land by the new farmers. This could start immediately, if the strategy receives the blessing of the international community which will provide the funding. There is no need to wait for the valuation exercise to be complete nationwide. That sounds more like an excuse for inaction and indecision than anything else.

It is time for the big fish to consider the welfare of the dying water they live in.


  • comment-avatar

    If only …… Sadly it will never happen. The ineptitude, greed and corruption of our leaders is too great. They will do anything to cling to power. You have to do good for good things to happen.

  • comment-avatar
    Mazano Rewayi 6 years ago

    Good ideas but you might as well teach differential equations to the kindergarten or Mandarin to the deaf! Only an overhaul of the current system and prime actors will save Zim.

  • comment-avatar
    Jimbo 6 years ago

    A war vet of only 50 yrs old? Impossible, there were no child soldiers of only 14 yrs at the very end of the war, some of them should be pushing closer to 80 yrs old.

  • comment-avatar

    Any war veteran must be over 60 years not 50 years as you mentioned
    Please don’t give criminals, thugs and money mangers the chance to infiltrate the war veterans association so they can get a living