Zimbabwe's War Vets Seeking Compensation From Britain

Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980, from British colonial rule, after a protracted war.

Coordinating committee member, Ignatius Chigwendere, told Radio VOP  that they were demanding compensation from Britain for  the  atrocities caused by the Smith regime.

“We are saying the British should compensate us as a form of healing our wounds. The Smith soldiers are on an in-definite pension scheme,” said Chigwendere.

The group, sponsored by one war veteran, Fred Mutanda, this week, started placing advertisements in newspapers claiming that over 27 000 “comrades were massacred during the liberation war by the Rhodesian Security Forces” and there was no national healing that was carried out for the parents and relatives of all those who were massacred.

The group, based in Harare,  is suspected to be aligned to Joseph Chinotimba. The War veterans split following a congress that was held in Bindura recently with Jabulani Sibanda leading the other group.

The dispute has now taken on an ugly tribal dimension with the Chinotimba faction calling for the establishment of a “national office in Harare.”

 “Some of the Rhodesian forces who perpetrated the atrocities are now Cabinet Ministers and policy advisors today. The war veterans’ leadership said nothing about such people, because they were not there and don’t know what they did. What is therefore national healing?” reads part of the full page advertisement placed in the Financial Gazette on Thursday.

The advertisement, which is attributed to the War Veterans Coordinating Committee, and with no logo, also questions who is “healing the widows, widowers and children of the fallen heroes who are living in abject poverty”.

“Your brother and sisters did not die in vain; the war veterans’ leadership needs your help to honour them for we only knew them by their chimurenga names. The Mau-Mau in Kenya was compensated why not Zanla and Zipra?” asked the war vets in their advertisement.

Zanla and Zipra were military wings of the old Zanu and Zapu that took part in the war from Mozambique and Zambia. The two parties later joined in the unity accord of 1997. 

In 1997, the government acceded to demands by the ex-combatants and paid them Z$50 000 each and it eventually worked as a catalyst to the country’s economic collapse.

Chigwendere said the money was not enough.

“That Z$50 000 we got is nothing because it was a once- off payment. We want the inclusive government to assist  us push Britain to compensate us just like what the Smith regime is doing  to  its  ex-combatants,” he  said.

Currently war veterans get at least US$60 per month as  part  of the government’s appreciation of  their role in the liberation struggle.

The war veterans listed numerous dates, which they said, bring haunted memories of their lost colleagues.

Some of the incidents of the liberation struggle they listed include the March 18, 1975 assassination of Herbert Chitepo, the 1976 Nyadzonya massacre and the 1977 Chimoio massacre. They also listed the Selous Scouts poisoning of water sources in Mozambique from 1976 to 1979. They also mentioned the 1979 death of Zanla commander Josiah Magama Tongogara.