By Robert Tapfumaneyi
War veterans have demanded their own autonomous government ministry that will look solely at their affairs, telling a media briefing Wednesday that their allowances were now equal to just 48 cents in US dollar terms.
Through their pro-Zanu PF welfare group, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, the former fighters said that their affairs have been neglected since the time of former President Robert Mugabe.
“I want to tell you that in 1980 when we came back from the war, former president (Robert Mugabe) removed us from the political structures and other people took over,” association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya told the media.
“And those are people that are taking decisions today, there are people in the civil service who would want to see the new President fail today.
“Our welfare is not being looked at; we don’t understand why it is not being looked at.”
Mahiya said government has ensured all other sectors in the country were catered for through salary cushioning while their own welfare was being ignored.
He said war veterans were now surviving on an equivalent of just 48 United States cents per day.
“War veterans are surviving on US0.48c a day and nothing has been done yet everyone and everybody who could be driving a Mercedes Benz, living in a nice house and things like that; it came from the war veterans.
“But when we speak or ask about our welfare, we are told there is no money, and from this press conference, what will be picked by the enemy of the people is the welfare of the war veterans.”
Mahiya went on to plead with parliament to pass a Bill that should prioritise their welfare.
“Why is it taking ages for even Parliament to harmonise this thing (Bill) that we are talking about,” he said.
“No one is looking at that Bill, and war veterans are dying in poverty.
“So we are not happy about that and we want to urge the government and Parliament to speed up the harmonisation of this law so that war veterans start benefiting from the constitutional provision of their welfare,” he said.
“The war veterans again are advocating for a Ministry that will look after their own affairs because we don’t understand why it is not happening when the President has already agreed to it.
“So why can’t we have our own Minister who probably will look at issues that affect war veterans.”
Currently, war veterans issues fall under the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans.