By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, November 13, 2016 – WAR Veterans Minister Tshinga Dube was on Saturday publicly humiliated by disgruntled fellow freedom fighters who booed and ordered him off stage, mid-way through his speech, for allegedly failing to invent solutions to challenges bedevilling the impoverished ex-combatants.
The fiasco occurred at Mutare Polytechnic College during an explosive meeting attended by Dube, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeremayi, permanent secretary in the Ministry of War Veterans, Retired Brigadier General Walter Tapfumaneyi and his directors.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandiitawepi Chimene, whose war veterans faction has been scorned and dismissed by Dube, was also present.
War veterans drawn from Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces also attended the meeting in their numbers.
The meeting had been called to discuss war veterans’ welfare which included treatment of war related ailments, monthly allowances, burial financial assistance and tuition for their children.
But the dozens of war veterans who came anticipating positive feedback from the national leadership were left disappointed after Dube said government was broke.
The vocal ex-combatants were irked by Dube’s blunt submission that there were no funds to carter for their welfare at a time government had just bought 13 vehicles for the luxury of the ministerial staff.
“Some of you are already attacking the ministry yet it’s only a year old at a time we are 36 years old as a country,” Dube said.
“You need to give us time. Right now there is no money to pay for your (children)’s school fees. We don’t have money to pay for your medical treatment and keep up with your allowances.
“We get money from the Ministry of Finance via Treasury and if they don’t give us anything there is nothing we can do. Our coffers are dry. Hatifambe nebag remari (We don’t walk around with a bag full of cash). Just recently we received our first batch of cars as a Ministry. So please give us time.”
The Zanu PF legislator for Makokoba’s rubbed it in when he told the war veterans his ministry would not rob a bank to get funds for their welfare.
“Do you want us to break into a bank and steal money? Is that what you want? If that’s what you want then yes, we will break into a bank and pay for your (children)’s fees and you will come and see us at Chikurubi (Maximum Prison),” he said.
Dube struggled to maintain order thereafter as he was interjected throughout his speech.
He was forced to halt his address several times as the liberation war fighters broke into spiteful songs.
Equally not amused by the rowdy behaviour exhibited by his fellow comrades, Dube tried to order them to behave but this inflamed the situation.
“Comrades, how can you talk when I’m talking? We can all sing at the same time but we can’t all talk at the same time.
“So you want me to stop talking? Is that what you want? Okay I will stop because that is what you want,” said Dube as they shouted for him to get off the podium.
However, Dube said he will not take his leave indicating that the truth of the matter is there were no funds for war veterans “if you are not happy with it, hard luck.”
In a sarcastic tone, Dube went on to urge other war veterans to wait for their turn to receive their own 4×4 vehicles from government.
However, Chimene who came late to the meeting, said war veterans were raising basic welfare concerns and not demanding luxurious vehicle contrary to Dube’s claims.
“We don’t want these 4x4s. No comrade has ever come to my office, demanding a 4×4. What they have said and continue to say is, ‘we want money for fees.’ They have not received money to pay fees for their children,” she said amid cheers.
Chimene said their leaders should be sincere and resolve the outstanding issues while they are still alive.