Ex-ZPRA vets say Mnangagwa promise on seized properties ‘political gimmick’
Some former ZPRA cadres have dismissed as a political gimmick, the latest overtures by the government on their properties which were confiscated in the 1980s during the Gukurahundi genocide.
In the latest development, the government has reportedly appointed Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube to engage the pensive war veterans.
Since assuming power, Mnangagwa has promised to return the assets.
The former ZPRA fighters met on Saturday at MacDonald Hall in Mzilikazi, Bulawayo to elect an 11-member substantive committee that will spearhead the return of their properties.
The committee comprises Volta Moyo (Matabeleland South), Sithabile ‘Ntombiyezizweni’ Sibanda (Midlands), Queen Maligwa (Bulawayo), Canaan Sibanda (Harare), Buster Magwizi (Mashonaland West), John Gazi (Midlands), Albert Ncube (Mashonaland West), Ian Matiwaza (Matabeleland South), Shelter Muchechesi (Mashonaland West), Willard Mafios Moyo (Bulawayo), and Leonard Machingura (Manicaland).
The committee will decide on a course of action and identify the ZPRA properties that need to be returned.
Given the impending national elections, a majority of ZPRA cadres, however, questioned the timing of the engagement.
They claimed even though they required the return of their properties, this appeared to be a campaign tactic.
The meeting was also attended by Angelina Masuku, former Matabeleland South governor, now the only remaining senior ex-ZAPU leader who negotiated the Unity Accord in 1987.
ZPRA Veterans Association Spokesperson Buster Magwizi said they just want to know when the government will bring back their properties.
“Dube was the one collecting money from assembly points. He can talk about unity but these are ZPRA properties. It is business, not politics,” he noted.
A former ZPRA female commander, Thoriso Moyo, said the exercise seemed like a political gimmick to draw the veterans’ support.
She also expressed caution that such a gathering could be interpreted to say the ZPRA veterans were supporting Mnangagwa’s presidential candidacy.
“We don’t want to be called ZPRA for ED. Today they are coming to us because they are campaigning. This is what we don’t want. We know there are some individuals who can’t confront the system because they are riding a hyena and if they stop riding, they will be eaten,” she said.
Moyo doubted the possibility of the former ZPRA fighters ever receiving their properties back.
“We are tired, we won’t get these properties after 42 years. They must give me back my $50 with interest because we have seen how difficult it is to reclaim our properties plus we don’t want to be used,” she said.
Another ex-combatant, John Zolani Dlamini, who served as a Chief of Security under the first battalion and was deployed at Gwayi River Mine also questioned the timing.
“Why today? Mnangagwa came into power in 2017 and has not given our properties to date. It makes everyone doubt this gathering and the call by Cde Dube that he has been sent by Mohadi so that Mnangagwa considers handing over our properties becomes very difficult to believe,” he said.
“We are going for elections and we have seen how Zanu has been campaigning, so one would want to believe this is just a mere campaign. If it was not, we would have been given our properties long back immediately after the Unity Accord in 1987.
Dlamini said he personally does not believe Mnangagwa is genuine.
“We will do what they tell us to do but I don’t want to dampen other people’s morale. When is Mnangagwa going to work on this? This is the end of January, then July/ August, we have elections. After elections it will be a different language,” he claimed.
But some ZPRA cadres were optimistic.
“This feedback is positive in a way. We are looking forward and maybe we can have something to hold on to. As former ZPRA liberators, we want those projects because our properties assume half of the country,” said Dickson Moyo.
However, Moyo said these initiatives should be written down formally.
“The government must formally commit to lift the caveat act that was used to seize our properties,” he said.
At the meeting, Dube claimed the new dispensation has opened room for tolerance, unlike the previous government.
“When the hostilities ceased in 1987, we began to plead for the return of our properties but the former president promised the properties would be returned, this turned out to be flattery. The late Cephas Msika announced there was an agreement reached to return the properties but nothing happened. Then came John Nkomo, likewise this proved a flattery,” said the former war vets minister.
Dube said comrades who approached President Mnangagwa were told the government was willing to hand over the properties provided they go through Mohadi.
“Recently, Mohadi called me to his office and gave me an order that we form a committee that would be able to come up with a register of all ZPRA properties which will be sent to him by the committee,” he said.
He also advised the ZPRA cadres not harass those known to have bought their properties as that would be solved by President Mnangagwa.
“Please don’t mix ZAPU properties with ZPRA ones as the ZAPU properties were integrated with Zanu to form Zanu PF,” Dube said and advised the cadres to trust this process.
“Give utmost hope that our president keeps his promises when these properties are returned, we shall form a board that will discuss the distribution to cater for all shareholders. Those who have passed on will be represented by their widows or children,” he said.