WAR veterans have upped the ante and are now demanding $500 000 each, which could cost $17 billion and collapse Zimbabwe’s economy, it has been learnt.
This came as the Zanu PF factional fights took a new dimension at the weekend.
With an estimated 34 000 registered war veterans remaining in the country, President Robert Mugabe’s broke government — which is barely affording civil service salaries — will have to cough up $17 billion, about five times the country’s 2016 National Budget of $3,6 billion.
Apart from the money, the former combatants are also demanding diplomatic passports so they would not be subjected to rigorous checks at border posts.
The former freedom fighters tabled their searches at borders as an incentive to us.”
A bemused Sekeramayi refused to make a commitment, but promised to consult Mugabe before giving them a response.
“On the money issue raised by Marashwa, I need to go and consult before we commit ourselves, but for now we are working flat out to see that the monthly payments are done timeously,” Sekeramayi responded.
ZNLWVA spokesperson Douglas Mahiya yesterday said he was part of the Hunzvi negotiating team, when Mugabe made the undertaking to pay them Z$50 000 in 1997 and then Z$500 000 backdated to 1980.
Mugabe, Mahiya said, had reneged on his pledge.
“I don’t know about the figure today in United States dollars, but I can confirm because I was part of the negotiating team with Marashwa when the President said the government had no money at that time since they were going to give us Z$50 000, but promised to give us the money (ZW$500 000) later and up to now we are still waiting,” Mahiya said.
He said he suspected that they were being hounded out of ZNLWVA since they were aware of such agreements. It was not clear whether the war veterans wanted the equivalent in US dollars.
The angry war veterans grilled Sekeramayi on why their leaders, Chris Mutsvangwa and his executive, were being fired from Zanu PF without a hearing, accusing the G40 faction — believed to have the backing of First Lady Grace Mugabe — of destabilising the party.
The war veterans, now backing Team Lacoste, a Zanu PF faction sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, told Sekeramayi to his face that the politburo was now “rotten” because it was now controlled by war deserters.