19 February 2013

Zimbabwe: War Vets Want Mining Licence

War veHRHterans want to be given a diamond mining licence as part of an income generating project aimed at ensuring that members are weaned from the fiscus, an official has said. Director responsible for war veterans in the Ministry of Defence, Retired Major General Richard Ruwodo said they had gone to Marange to conduct due diligence with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and have since signed a memorandum of understanding.

He was giving oral evidence before a Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs chaired by Glen View South MP, Mr Paul Madzore (MDC-T)

Rtd Maj Gen Rowodo alleged that efforts were being stalled by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that appeared reluctant not only to give them licences but to meet President Mugabe.

t some people were deliberately blocking them.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Mpofu shot down the claims saying they have not seen their application.

"We have not seen their application. Due diligence is done with ZMDC and it is ZMDC that would then make recommendations to us. Many people are making lies about the Ministry of Mines, there is nothing like that," he said.

In his evidence Rtd Maj Gen Ruwodo said Treasury had failed to give them money for projects. They had hope that extraction of diamonds at Marange would go a long way in alleviating the plight of war veterans.

"We have met ZMDC, went to Marange, identified the place we wanted, did all the paper work and signed a non-disclosure agreement and the papers were physically moved to the Ministry of Mines where they have been bogged down," said Rtd Gen Ruwodo.

" We want to have our own mortuary, clinics and that would have succeeded if the Marange project had succeeded.

"Everything that was required by ZMDC was done. ZMDC did not have any problems with our documents but when it went to the Ministry of Mines there was a lot of politics. We were told that if we wanted to extract coal it was okay but with diamonds you have to see his Excellency, the President."

Members of the committee said it was strange for former liberation fighters to claim that they were failing to secure an appointment with the President when they have a fully fledged ministry with a Permanent Secretary and a Minister.

ZNWVA secretary-general Cde Shadreck Makombe said there was a need to have a stand-alone ministry for them so that their issues could effectively be dealt with.

He said war veterans had been reduced to destitutes and were being buried as paupers owing to the failure by Treasury to sufficiently fund them.

Cde Makombe said war veterans were the laughing stock not only in the country but in the region.

"When you talk about war veterans you are talking about the country's history. If we had a stand-alone ministry, our application for a diamond licence would have long reached the President," he said.

Secretary for Defence Mr Martin Rushwaya said the ministry had bid for US$58 million for war veterans that would have included US$28 million for projects but only got US$18 million for education, health and funeral expenses.

Zimbabwe War Veterans Trust chairperson Cde Bastan Beta said there was a need for a quota to be reserved for former freedom fighters in all spheres of the economy, including Cabinet posts.

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