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ZPRA veterans demand SI to support welfare promises

The ZPRA Veterans Association is calling for the creation of a Statutory Instrument to solidify government support for liberation war veterans, particularly regarding vetting and allowance concerns.

A Statutory Instrument is “any proclamation, rule, regulation, by-law, order, notice or other instrument having the force of law, made by the President or any other person or body under any enactment.”

The veterans association believes a Statutory Instrument would strengthen their claims to welfare benefits, given what they perceive as a history of unfulfilled government promises.

These sentiments follow a recent meeting between Minister of Veterans Affairs Monica Mavhunga and war veterans.

During the meeting, the Minister pledged the government’s commitment to addressing challenges faced by ageing veterans, prioritising dignified care and support for them and their dependents.

However, the ZPRA Veterans Association has dismissed this as mere rhetoric.

“This has been said over and over again, but there has been no commitment – in word or deed – to what they print or say,” said the association’s spokesperson, Buster Magwizi, in an interview with CITE.

Magwizi accused the government of delaying support for war veterans.

“How serious is the state in looking after the welfare of war veterans? Is there a Statutory Instrument to support the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act on issues of vetting and allowances that needs to be gazetted?” he questioned.

“It is critically essential that a Statutory Instrument governing vetting and allowances be gazetted to give credence to the current statements from the ministry regarding veterans’ welfare.”

Magwizi lamented that veterans remain in limbo as promises go unfulfilled.

“War veterans are now elderly. From the end of the liberation war, they were, are, and will always remain the state’s responsibility in terms of welfare, healthcare, education, and general maintenance,” he said.

“Timeframes are essential in life. We keep hope alive for the project’s completion, but the lack of established or communicated timeframes throws us into disarray and deep distress. The absence of timeframes creates stress and can lead to a quicker demise for war veterans in their old age, who are constantly expecting something that never happens.”

Magwizi said there is a need to translate the Minister’s words into action through legislation.

“Above all, there’s the issue of the state’s finances. The budget should allocate funds to support all veterans in undertaking specific projects. We are then surprised when the Minister claims there’s no money and that veterans are expected to find resources and contribute. This approach may lead to a long delay in resolving veterans’ welfare issues,” he said.

Magwizi disputed the claim of inadequate government finances, citing the allocation of seven companies to generate profit specifically for war veterans.

“Didn’t the state assign seven companies to the veterans of the liberation struggle to generate income? We are surprised and dismayed by the Minister’s statement that veterans must contribute to their own welfare. How can this be when the state gave them companies?” he said.

“These companies are involved in mining, transport, trade, and various other commercial sectors, and they are supposed to benefit the veterans.”

The spokesperson urged the Minister to review the performance of these companies and determine the amount of revenue generated since 2021.

“These companies were launched on July 21, 2021, at the Harare Conference Centre. I was present at that meeting, where the President and the Minister of Finance confirmed that these companies would now be responsible for financing veterans’ issues,” said Magwizi, adding that the association will continue to hold the government accountable.

“How soon can we expect results? Otherwise, some of these promises are causing more harm than good. The state uses various channels to award rewards to deserving members of society. However, they forget about the war veterans who brought about the independence that allows them to accumulate wealth and distribute it to others. It’s very unfortunate,” he concluded.

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