After recently landing themselves in President Robert Mugabe’s good graces, war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees are demanding an upward review of their monthly gratuities and allowances.
The revelation came on Sunday when Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) national secretary-general Victor Matemadanda read the resolutions passed by the Masvingo Chapter at a meeting with their national chairperson Chris Mutsvangwa at Masvingo Polytechnic.
“We are just coming from a briefing with war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees and there were a number of problems they raised,” he said. “They have been living with these problems for a long time.
“Chief among them is their welfare.
“The war vets said the money is now too little and can no longer sustain them. They are asking for a bit of a raise.”
An unbudgeted payment of lump sums for the war veterans in the late 1990s is blamed for precipitating the collapse of the economy which culminated in the demise of the local currency.
Presently, the country’s economy is on the brink and if the government were to agree to the former freedom fighters’ latest demand, it could be the beginning of a new economic crisis.
Matemadanda lamented that Treasury was no longer paying school fees for the former guerrillas’ children.
“They said school fees are no longer coming, especially last year and this year,” he said. “For the reimbursement of their medical expenses, for those who would have gone for specialist treatment, they say the money takes time to come or does not at all.”
The call by the war vets comes at a time when Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya warned against a pay rise for civil servants, saying this would have a huge bearing on the limping economy.
Addressing the former fighters at the same gathering, Mutsvangwa promised that within a year, he would have changed their lives by initiating projects for them so that they stop being cry-babies.
“We want to start companies not just to cry to (Finance minister Patrick) Chinamasa,” he said.
“Give me 12 months and I will make this dream turn into reality.
“If the dream doesn’t come true, I will resign. You need to be businesspeople. People will not take you seriously when talking about politics and you are poor.”
Mutsvangwa, who blamed sanctions for infrastructure deterioration, said Mugabe had told him that war vets needed to be organised if they were to benefit from empowerment programmes.
The former freedom fighters, used as cannon fodder during elections by Zanu PF, were in 1998 given Z$50 000 and promised a monthly allowance, among other perks.