ZPRA veterans eagerly await vetting process

ZPRA veterans are eagerly waiting for the war veterans vetting process to resume so they can start accessing their benefits, amid indications there are over 200 000 unvetted war veterans nationally.

This figure consists of four categories: combatants, non-combatants, ex-political detainees, with war collaborators forming the bulk of those who are yet to be vetted, both from ZPRA and ZANLA.

Vetting has stalled due to lack of funds and the Ministry of Defense and War Veterans Affairs is waiting for Parliament to pass the 2022 National Budget so it can receive its allocation from the Treasury.

In an interview with CITE, ZPRA Veterans Association Secretary-General, Petros Sibanda, lamented that some of their members were dying without receiving their dues.

“We had a meeting on December 10 and 11, 2021 with the War Veterans Board led by Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze and we discussed quite a number of issues. Mainly of concern was vetting of war veterans, where a total registered unvetted comrades that include combatants, non-combatants, ex-political detainees and war collaborators is above 200 000 nationally,” he said.

“According to the board, there are over 1 000 combatants who are yet to be vetted, over  14 000 non-combatants, over 2 000 ex-political detainees and about 189 000 war collaborators. These figures may even exclude some who were not registered during the July 17, 2021 registration exercise.”

Sibanda noted that those unregistered veterans were also going to be considered when the vetting exercise resumes.

“All we are expecting now is when the budget goes through Parliament, we will be vetted soon as a number of comrades nationwide are waiting for that,” he said.

“The cause of concern is natural causes are taking their toll and quite a number of comrades are passing on. We really want the board, the ministry concerned together with Parliament to speed up this process and make sure people are considered for benefits and those who are going to qualify.”

The ZPRA secretary general, noted that veterans had to be vetted to access land, burial, education, and medication benefits

“We also have an issue of veterans in the Diaspora where a number of our comrades outside the country faced challenges during the registration of June and July 2021. But we expect that as soon as vetting resumes they are going to be considered and be vetted,” Sibanda said.

“They might also be facing challenges of documentation, which might hinder them to process their paperwork with the concerned embassies but I am sure the ministry of war veterans is inconsiderate as per report of the Chief Director who promised quite a number of policy issues that are going to be implemented. We hope that is going to happen as per agreement.”

ZPRA Veterans Association, Vice Secretary, Job Ndlovu concurred the vetting process needs to be done soon.

“The finance minister (Professor Mthuli Ncube) disbursed about ZWL$65 million as a loan to vetted comrades, which can be accessed through the Post Office. But now our main concern is how will these unvetted comrades access that loan. So we want the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans to speed up the exercise in conjunction with the board that was formed and launched by the president,” he said.

“Our cry is that they must speed up everything. Other comrades are sick because of this pandemic and at the end of the day, they pass on. A lot was mentioned for us to benefit – there’s the issue of free duty, land, free parking and free tollgate. We also talked about recognising all veterans, probably having something that will show these are veterans.”

Ndlovu added that the government must also solve issues of queues as the veterans spent hours queuing at banks.

“We don’t see the reasons why veterans are suffering standing in queues. We fought for these things so why are we standing (that long). Some comrades are sick, others are taking a lot of tablets for sugar diabetes, stress and a lot of ailments,” he said.

“We wish the ministry in conjunction with the board and the government to try and make it a point that veterans are not going to stand in queues for quite some time but create a conducive environment where veterans access withdrawals as soon as possible and leave the bank simple!”

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