ZPRA Veterans Association has said it is disappointed that its several requests made to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the return of their properties have not been responded to.
It has been two years since the veterans first met with President Mnangagwa, after which follow up meetings were expected to pave way for the hand over of the properties.
The first meeting took place at the State House in Harare in July 2019, where a delegation of ex-ZPRA members engaged President Mnangagwa who was in the company of his then Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
The ex-ZPRA freedom fighters lost their properties when the government seized them under the Unlawful Organisation Act in 1982 (Caveat No. 15 of 82) and transferred to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987 (under Caveat No. 56 of 87).
In an interview with CITE, ZPRA Veterans Association spokesperson, Buster Magwizi lamented that their requests to engage with the President had been ignored.
“There are outstanding requests that we have presented to the Head of State. We presented to the President Mnangagwa, the request for a meeting between the ZPRA veterans and him regarding the issue of the return of ZPRA and ZAPU properties. Up to now they have been mum, everything is quiet,” he said.
“No one is saying anything, we don’t know whether we are coming or going.”
After independence, the former veterans had contributed $50 each from their demobilisation payout to purchase 52 properties through their investment vehicle, Nitram Investments Private Limited.
The properties, now estimated to be worth billions of United States Dollars, were confiscated by the late former president Robert Mugabe’s administration under the Unlawful Organisation Act in 1982 (Caveat No. 15 of 82).
They were later transferred to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987 (under Caveat No. 56 of 87).
Ever since then the former fighters, including ZAPU have been trying to win these back with no success.
The ZPRA Veterans Association spokesperson pleaded with the Office of the President to come forward and respond to their requests.
“May the Head of State please come forward and answer this. We request an explanation, we have written letters to his office and it would appear that he is ignoring (us.) I don’t know whether he is no longer a listening President,” Magwizi said.
Reached for comment, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (presidential Communications) George Charamba, said the government met with all the war veterans as a group last year and the ZPRA cadres were under that classification as well.
“We focus on war veterans as a whole and the government meets with them. When the government meets war veterans, then their various concerns and grievances specific to ZPRA and their properties can be dealt with,” he said.
The presidential spokesperson noted that meeting President Mnangagwa also meant accommodating his schedule.
“The meeting will come where there is time and availability of the President, as you know he has a busy schedule. It doesn’t mean he can’t meet them in 2022,” Charamba said.