WAR Veterans minister Tshinga Dube on Wednesday described the $500 000 payment demands by former freedom fighters for their role during the liberation struggle as “wishes of dreamers”.
Dube said this in the National Assembly during question time, after he was asked by Harare East MP, Terence Mukupe (Zanu PF) to explain government policy regarding the welfare of war veterans.
“I read that in newspapers and we do not have to worry about what everybody says, as it is not policy and it is something that someone dreamt about it,” he said.
His response prompted MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese to demand a more comprehensive answer, saying the minister did not do justice to it.
“The Constitution makes it clear that the government has a duty to ensure war veterans get their benefits, including medical treatment and school fees. However, the question of the $500 000 each has never been an issue or government policy,” Dube said.
“You know that this Parliament is consulted before we work out war veterans’ pensions. In our normal senses, why would anybody vote for $500 000 per person for war veterans? That is why I do not think it is anything serious.”
Dube, however, said the government had a duty to support war veterans, saying Treasury was failing to disburse funds for war veterans’ children’s school fees.
In an unrelated matter, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said there was no policy on spot fines.
This was after Bulawayo Central MP, Dorcas Sibanda (MDC-T) had asked him if there was government policy to support spot fines.
Further asked by Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) to explain if the aspect of numerous roadblocks was government policy, Mnangagwa replied: “Roadblocks are lawful.”
But, Chamisa suggested that government should consider installing digital cameras on roads instead of numerous roadblocks that disturbed the smooth flow of traffic, while Sibanda said authorities should introduce swipe machines at police checkpoints due to the cash crisis.
Mufakose MP, Paurina Mpariwa (MDC-T) asked Mnangagwa to explain measures the government would take to ensure old people sleeping outside banks to access their pensions were given decent places to put up, as they spent the night in bank queues.
Mnangagwa said the problem was due to depressed exports, foreign direct investment and lack of lines of credit, resulting in the cash crisis.
MPs would have none of his explanations, resulting in Chamisa pointing out that the pensioners had worked hard for that money.
Mnangagwa’s response was that bond notes would solve the issue.
MPs were also suprised when Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo left the House during the session without notice.
They claimed he was running away from questions, but Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona absolved him, saying he was travelling to South Africa.