War vets accuse govt of neglect

War veterans are not well taken care of by the government with all benefits promised by the latter either coming late or yet to materialise resulting in them living undignified lives, Umzingwane legislator, Levi Mayihlome, has said.

Mayihlome, also a war veteran, was responding to a ‘glowing’ ministerial statement on the veterans of the liberation struggle presented to the National Assembly by Defence and War veterans Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri last Wednesday.

“We get indications from the government that they are going to review the monthly pensions, but they do not come,” decried Mayihlome.

“We were told that district offices were going to be opened so that veterans of the liberation struggle access medical benefits and school fees much easier, but they are just not there on the ground. If you go to a funeral for war veterans, the recognition is paltry. You find that the widows are not given national flags for the recognition of the liberation struggle. There are no tombstones and the money that the Hon. Minister is talking about, US$500.00 equivalent RTGS does not come in time.”

He said it was a struggle for relatives to contribute towards the burial costs whenever war veterans pass on.

“Talking about school fees arrears – imagine war veterans in remote rural areas do not even have access to social media to know that the War Veterans Department is paying first term fees for 2021,” said Mayihlome.

“How are they surviving and how are they communicating? Their children are mocked at school. The intention might be good but practically on the ground, there are genuine concerns from war veterans that these benefits are not being realised. The sooner the district offices are established and these officers are given timelines to implement these projects and communicate to veterans of the liberation struggle, I think it will be better for everyone else so that even when the project starts, they are not for people in towns especially in Harare. These are projects that benefit veterans of the liberation struggle at every corner of the country so that everybody has access to this wealth.”

In her response, Muchinguri-Kashiri said the government was trying its best to establish war veterans’ offices across the country.

“He (Mayihlome) mentions also the late release of resources particularly school fees and funeral assistance,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“Yes, that is correct but we have addressed that situation by ensuring that resources are not only handled by head office.  We are going to decentralise these resources so that our own war veterans of the liberation struggle will easily access district offices or provincial offices.”

She added: “Yes, we experienced delays but these delays are not of our own making.  Finance sometimes releases those resources very late.  So we have taken note of some of the issues.”

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