GOVERNMENT has been frantically charming war veterans, ex-political prisoners, detainees, restrictees, non-combatant cadres and war collaborators by increasing pensions ahead of polls later this year, as the vote-buying spree continues.
The database for those on state monthly payroll has been increased by 120 000 senior citizens. Some of the beneficiaries were aged 16 in December 1979.
In a statement to district and provincial offices of the war veterans, dated 13 April, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri-Kashiri said an arrangement has been made to ensure that the ex-political prisoners, detainees, restrictees, non-combatant cadres and war collaborators get regular pension allowance increases concurrently with pay hikes for Zimbabwe Defences Forces.
“The formula for determining the monthly pension for these categories has now been harmonisd under an indexation framework that was improved by the Second Republic to ensure that whenever salaries and allowances of members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces are adjusted, the monthly pension for them are automatically increased,” she wrote.
Muchinguri-Kashiri also told the liberation war fighters that another special arrangement has been made to separate their monthly pension payment system from that of the rest of pensioners who served in government.
“While all pensions payable from the Consolidated Revenue Fund are administered directly by the pensions office in terms of the provisions of the Pensions Review Act (Chapter 16:03), the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs is responsible for initiating fundamental changes to pension policy for its client,” she wrote.
Statistics seen by The NewsHawks shows that while in 2018 government spent ZW$22.7 million in payments of school fees for dependants of the war veterans, last year the support amounted to ZW$1.7 billion.
There were also war veterans who were flown to South Africa and India for medical treatment under government support.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said this year there are plans to further improve welfare of the war fighters after she created what is known as the Liberation Struggle Fund that will see establishment of a range of private hospitals and medical facilities for them.
“There will also be a banking institution for war veterans to deepen the financial inclusion of this disadvantaged segment of our society,” she wrote.
She also revealed statistics on recruitment of war collaborators that have been vetted and drafted onto the government pay-sheet.
“A total of 207 103 applicants registered for vetting in 2021 and 150 434 were vetted in 2022, leaving a balance of 56 669.
“Statistically, this means that 72% of veterans of all categories were vetted, implying that another 28% remained outstanding. The major problem with this analysis is that there are some veterans who did not register in 2021, but turned up for the vetting exercise. Similarly, there are other veterans who registered, but did not turn up for vetting,” she said.
In 1997, war veterans were awarded windfall payments of ZW$50 000 gratuities and other benefits for their role in the liberation struggle.
Since then they have been a vital cog in Zanu PF campaigns during elections where they resort to use of brute force in rural areas to bolster support for the ruling party when it is cornered by the opposition.
“To this end, the second republic will continue to support ongoing efforts by Veterans Investment Corporation to augment resources availed through the fiscus and hopes that as the economy continues to improve, more benefits will be availed,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said, in her document to the ex-combatants.
Government has been vetting and registering war collaborators to ensure their eligibility for monthly pensions and other related benefits. Statistics released by the Defence and War Veterans ministry show that government rejected applications from 11 330 aspirants classified as war collaborators, non-combatant cadres and detainees after failing to meet a legal requirement that one should have been 16 years by December 31, 1979 for consideration.
Names of the approved war veterans will be gazetted for 30 days, before they are accredited as liberation struggle veterans.