By Albert Nxumalo
Former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) cadres have raised concern that they continue to be discriminated in government activities while ex-Zanla members receive preferential treatment.
They said their members are wallowing in poverty as they are “still viewed as dissidents”.
This was said during a heated Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services held a public hearing at Entumbane Community Hall on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill on Wednesday.
Petros Sibanda, who identified himself as an ex-Zipra member first raised concern on the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation struggle board.
He said he feared that the entire board members will consist of Zanla members.
According to the bill, the board shall consist of not less than and not more than 13 members appointed by the minister.
Sibanda claimed that since the current Defence minister Oprah Muchinguri-Kasiri is an ex-Zanla cadre, all board members will be from Zanla.
“The president (Emmerson Mnangagwa) Vice President Chiwenga, Defence minister are all Zanla so we might have an all Zanla board” said Sibanda
Prominent war veteran Andrew Ndlovu weighed in proposing an independent commission to oversee board appointments.
“In my view, the appointment of the board should be done by an independent commission. That will prevent a situation whereby all board members will be drawn from Zanla,” he said.
He said most Zipra members are struggling in life yet they contributed immensely towards the liberation of the country.
He said the unfair treatment stems from the Entumbane disturbances.
“When Zipra members attempted to go back to the camps after the disturbances they were attacked resulting in them to flee. But Zanla cadres freely walked into the camps and accommodated.
“This is a fact,” said Ndlovu.
He added: ” We are simply saying about 300 Zipra members were chased away and they have not received their gratuities.
“So every Zipra cadre who got affected because of those circumstances should be officially retired and have their names cancelled from Zimbabwe National Army files or Defences forces file and given their benefits,” said Ndlovu.
Another war veteran, Jabulani Petshu Sibanda also called for fairness in board appointments.
“IZipra yona ke. Lathi salwa (what about Zipra, we also fought) There should be fairness and equal representation on the board. We all fought,” he said.
Other Zipra members said the liberation history should be jointly re-written by both Zipra and Zanla members as Zipra’s contribution has been wiped out.
They said the current narratives paint a picture of Zanla single-handedly fighting yet Zipra played a pivotal role.
Others said since they are not part of Zanu PF fold, they are being belittled and considered as sellouts.