A committee of former ZPRA combatants set up last month to negotiate the return of their properties confiscated by the government has been accused of being lethargic and failing on its mandate.
This view arises as ZPRA fighters allege the substantive committee lacks terms of reference since committee members are unsure who they must report to, a problem they blame on politicians seeking relevance and mixed opinion on how to reclaim their properties back.
Last month, former ZPRA combatants from across the country convened in Bulawayo to elect 11 members of the substantive committee in a process coordinated by former War Vets minister and Zanu PF politburo member, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, who was tasked by the government to engage them over the properties.
However, several ex-ZPRA cadres argue that the committee has done nothing meaningful other than talk about developing structures across the provinces, which they believe should not be a huge concern.
Because of this, the pensive war veterans have called for another meeting before the end of February.
Ben Ncube, Chairman of the ZPRA Veterans Association, told CITE that the main challenge, which should be done by the committee was convincing the government to abolish the Caveat Act, which was used to confiscate their properties, and that without such proclamation, efforts to obtain those assets would be futile.
“How will the properties come if the Caveat Act is still in place? Getting the president to proclaim against that Caveat is the priority. We also don’t know the terms of reference set for the committee and I doubt if the committee members do,” he said.
The ex-ZPRA freedom fighters’ properties were confiscated by the government in 1982, during the height of Gukurahundi, under the Illegal Organisations Act (Caveat No. 15 of 82) and transferred to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987 (under Caveat No. 56 of 87),.
The war veterans had each paid $50 from their demobilisation payouts following independence to acquire properties through their investment vehicle, Nitram Private Limited.
Ncube stated if the Caveat Act was repealed, it would be easy to identify their properties and then the new committee could move forward with building frameworks for who will benefit. “This is why we are yet to meet, possibly within a week’s time for the way forward,” he said
Meanwhile, ex-ZPRA sources claimed that some individuals within Zanu PF structures were exploiting their predicament in order to gain prominence and influence in the region.
“In 2019, there was already a seven-person panel that met with the president. This team should have been put in charge of continuing to engage Mnangagwa. What happens to that team now that another committee has been formed? Why form another committee, but the big question is whether the president is aware of this current initiative and whether he will meet with this new group?” they questioned.
The former fighters were also sceptical of the entire process, claiming that Rtd Col Dube’s assertions that ZAPU properties should not be combined with ZPRA properties because they ‘were integrated with Zanu to form Zanu PF’ were incorrect.
“That is wrong. Properties were purchased under PF ZAPU, then some properties were bought after business persons, some of Indian origin, came together to make purchases as well then the veterans came in with their $50 into what was known as Nitram Private Limited,” they said.
Nitram Private Limited was founded by two late directors, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Isaac Lentswi Nyathi.
Martin Ralph Adies, the board’s secretary, was the one who represented the Indian business community who had also provided monies to purchase properties, claimed the sources.
The name Nitram was reportedly derived from spelling Adies’ first name, Martin, backwards.
The sources also expressed regret that some people were going around claiming to be members of the Nitram board, despite the fact that several board members who were included in the Company registration, registered at the Deeds Office under the Registrar of Companies, are still alive but silent.
“Bonafide board members are just watching the commotion and wondering what is going on,” said the war vets.
CITE is in possession of a copy of Nitram’s Business Registration, which was last updated in July 2022.
The late ZAPU president, Dumiso Dabengwa, and former ZAPU treasurer general and national chairman Mark Mbayiwa are among the board members.
Stephen Mbizo, Henry Mhlanga, Thoriso Moyo, Patron Khutshwekhaya, and Marshal Mhambi Mpofu are still alive.