WAR veterans from Bulawayo and Matabeleland South provinces have urged Government to address their grievances once and for all as they are tired of empty promises that have been made over the years without action.
Speaking during public hearings held at Luveve Hall in Bulawayo and Jahunda Hall in Gwanda by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services yesterday, war veterans said their welfare issues have always been clear and what they required now was implementation.
The war veterans said they have nothing to show for their sacrifices and hard work, which brought independence.
They said they hope that under the New Dispensation, Government would finally put in place effective policies to cater for their welfare
The war veterans also said they were suffering from chronic illnesses which they developed during the liberation struggle but were failing to get quality health care services. They said there was a need for a fund to be allocated through the Ministry of Health and Child Care to cater for medical expenses and enable them to access health care services outside the country.
“The plight of war veterans is known and there is nothing new to talk about. For now we want action from the Government. We’re tired of the promises that have been made since 1980.
“In 2016 we presented a war victims commission document, outlining all our challenges to the former President Robert Mugabe. President Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga also have the document as well as Parliament. The War Veterans Bill is also clear about what the Government should do,” fumed Cde Dumisani Sibanda during the Bulawayo hearing.
He said the War Veterans Act contains everything about the freedom fighters, hence it was time for implementation not further hearings.
Cde Douglas Ndlovu said it was unfortunate that 39 years after independence, there were some war veterans who were not receiving paltry allowances available for them because they were yet to be vetted.
“While we appeal to the Government to increase our allowances from RTGS$240, others are not receiving anything because they were not vetted yet they fought for this country and endured the suffering that was brought to us by the liberation struggle.
“In 1997 we were vetted but the exercise was not completed. In 2013 it was resumed but still some war veterans, ex-detainees and war collaborators were left out. Others have died without receiving anything and their families are suffering,” said Cde Ndlovu.
War veterans in Gwanda said there was a need for their pensions to be reviewed in order to be in line with prevailing economic conditions.
They also said a medical fund must be set up to allow them access to quality health care services.
Cde Seni Ncube from Gwanda District said war veterans were not benefiting from economic activities in their areas as expected.
“It was announced that war veterans should be allocated 20 percent of all economic activities but this isn’t happening.
“We have mining projects, housing projects, agriculture projects among others, which are ongoing in the province but war veterans are being excluded from them.
“War veterans have to benefit from these projects as they are the people who fought to ensure access to these resources,” she said.
Speaking during the same meeting, Cde Efias Takawira, also from Gwanda District, said war veterans have been communicating their grievances to Government over the years and nothing tangible has been done. He said there was a need for war veterans to be allocated houses which could be paid for in instalments.
Chairperson of the Committee Retired Brigadier Levi Mayihlome, who is also Umzingwane Member of Parliament, said the committee was on a fact finding mission to gather concerns of war veterans across the country.
He said the committee was going to compile its findings and then present them in Parliament.