Former ZPRA fighters have welcomed the demand made by Zanu PF Bulawayo province chairperson Jabulani Sibanda for the government to return their seized properties and that law used to grab their properties be scrapped.
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 them to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987 (under Caveat No. 56 of 87).
Since the 1980s, ZPRA veterans have been calling on the government to release their properties with no success.
This confiscation of properties was done during the height of the Gukurahundi genocide and are now estimated to be worth billions of United States Dollars.
Last week, when Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was in Entumbane, Bulawayo, for a clean-up campaign Sibanda demanded that the government return ZPRA properties.
“Acting President, here in Matabeleland, there are some farms that are owned by war veterans, not those that were acquired during the Land Act. When we were at the assembly points, we contributed money from our meagre salaries to buy those properties. Some of the properties have been returned, while others have not been returned due to paperwork challenges,” Sibanda was quoted saying.
In an interview with CITE, ZPRA Veterans Association spokesperson, Buster Magwizi, said the call to return their properties, no matter who made it, was necessary.
“It is very intriguing and pleasing to notice or note many members are beginning to talk louder and louder about the return of the ZPRA properties directly into the ears of the government,” he said.
“The comment by Comrade Jabulani Sibanda and his request to the Vice President with regards to the return of ZPRA properties is a song that must be sung louder and louder. We very much congratulate him for being bold to come out and tell the Executive that they need to consider in our day and age at this moment in time.”
Magwizi went a step further noting such talk opened channels for government officials to build peace between the various stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
“This is a very opportune moment for the Executive to also grab this chance, to build peace and transform the conflict between people of this country in various institutions and organisations, be it political and otherwise,” he said.
Magwizi added that Caveat 17 of 1982 and Caveat 15 of 1982 must be struck off the statutes.
“Telling the vice president what the community requirement is, is probably educating the educated. The vice president is aware of how the properties were confiscated during the Gukurahundi era. It is only conflict transforming if reparations could be done. But before the reparations, it must also be acknowledged that these things (Gukurahundi genocide) occurred,” he said.
“This is the process towards building peace. So, in order for the government to return the properties, the president (Mnangagwa) must cancel the Caveat 17 of 1982 and 15 of 1982 and return all the properties that were taken at the pretext of having been used as military or army dumps in a purported uprising that never was and never took place.”