War vets demand pay hike

War veterans have demanded that the government review their monthly allowances up to ZW$2 000 given the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

Currently, the former veterans are receiving a monthly allowance of ZW$320.

This emerged during a public hearing held at Stanley Square, Makokoba in Bulawayo on Tuesday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services chaired by Retired Brigadier Levi Mayihlome.

The meeting was a response to a petition by Blessing Kundlande, a war veteran and a public prosecutor by profession on the pension benefits and general welfare of the former liberators.

In his petition, Kundlande cited that war veterans were living under poor conditions and needed a review of their monthly allowance.

In their submissions, war veterans lamented that the ZW$320 was below the country’s poverty datum line and a female veteran who identified herself using her nom de guerre  Kunzima Ekhaya, suggested that ZW$2000 might be able to cushion them.

“A packet of 2kg sugar went up to ZW$18 so how will ZW$320 be adequate for our needs? We ask that our allowances be increased to ZW$2 000 a month to enable us to reap the rewards we fought for during the liberation struggle,” she said.   

The war veterans also denounced corruption especially in the allocation of land and claimed that some officials in the Lands office were dishonest.

They also noted that some war veterans still did not own title deeds for the land they received during the land reform programme.

“We have been tossed from one place to another. Since 2002 we have been moved more than five times from one farm to another, we are not at peace with that,” said Nqobile Ndlovu.

A ZAPU committee member and ex-ZPRA fighter, Mandla Khanye, took the opportunity to call upon the government to bring back their properties that were seized and criticised authorities for failing to lead the country properly.

“As ZPRA cadres, we are not supposed to be suffering like this. Our properties were illegally taken by the ruling Zanu PF party. We demand our properties back,” he said.

“We are ruled by a corrupt government, one that does not respect democracy and if you do not release the Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena commission reports on Gukurahundi we will not take you seriously.”

He also lashed out at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for splurging on taxpayers’ money under the pretext of conducting public hearings.   

“We are sick and tired of this circus, you people are here to enjoy taxpayers’ moneys, sleeping in five-star hotels and receiving hefty allowances pretending to assist us,” Khanye lambasted.

However, Mayihlome dressed down ZAPU member saying the meeting was on the welfare of war veterans not politics.

“If you have nothing to say just sit and keep quiet, we are not here to address or listen to political issues. We are here to listen to your grievances and take them to Parliament, Khanye you are now mature, why are you behaving like a child,” responded the chairperson.

Other war veterans alleged they missed their former leader, Jabulani Sibanda, whom they claimed was transparent especially in the vetting process.

They also accused current leadership of corruptly vetting their own relatives and making them war veterans.

“It is times like these that we really wish Sibanda was present. He was a no-nonsense man and vetted both war veterans and mujibhas fairly,” claimed Ruggel Nyatsvimbo of the Mujibha and Chimbwindo Association.                         

Widows of war veterans also demanded a review of their allowances.

They said their current ZW$120 was inadequate.

“The government must, in the same manner, it gives cushioning allowances to civil servants do the same for us,” said Rita Mhlanga, one of the widows.

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