1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: No Windfall for War Vets

VETERANS of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war had their hopes of a US$2 000 monthly windfall dashed after government failed to pay them the money despite promises made by Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief General Constantine Chiwenga late last year.

Chiwenga reportedly promised war veterans payments of US$18 000 each to be paid in monthly instalments of US$2 000 for nine months at a meeting at One Brigade Headquarters in Bulawayo in November 2012.

Chiwenga said the money would come from diamond mining in Marange and investment in the Lupane gas project in which the ZDF partnered Russian investors.

The expectant war veterans were disappointed to find no deposits into their bank accounts on their pay day on Monday.

Instead they got the usual amounts of between US$160 and US$170.

Disgruntled war veterans told this paper it was disheartening that Chiwenga and Zanu PF were engaging in cheap politicking by making false promises.

"They owe us the money because we were never paid in full when we got Z$50 000 in 1997," said one irate war veteran. "The most distressing thing is that nobody bothered to explain anything to us. Members need to re-group to decide on the appropriate response if nothing materialises in the coming months."

War veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda confirmed they had not received the promised money but referred all questions to Chiwenga since he made the promises.

"All l know is that war veterans never received any money," said Sibanda.

"People have been asking me what happened to the money promised by Chiwenga but they should be asking Chiwenga. I wasn't there in Bulawayo because l wasn't even invited to the meeting. You should ask Chiwenga because l don't know his programme and how he is operating," Sibanda said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general Shadreck Makombe confirmed last month that the association was having meetings with the government over compensation for liberating the country from colonial rule.

"We negotiated for Z$150 000 per individual which was equivalent to US$20 000 and we only received Z$50 000 (US$2 000) in 1997; as such there is need for our patron (President Robert Mugabe) to release the remaining US$18 000," Makombe said.

However, Sibanda appeared to contradict Makombe when he said the immediate priority is to ensure that Zanu PF wins elections and the money issue will be discussed later.

"We are not in a rush to get the money because right now our priority is to ensure Mugabe wins the elections. Only then will we start talking about the money issue. In any case we don't get our money from Chiwenga because we are not in the army," said Sibanda.

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