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Govt neglect: War vets explode



WOES are continuing to mount for veterans of Zimbabwe’s armed liberation struggle, who say their welfare is continually being neglected, with tertiary learning institutions refusing to enrol their children over the government’s failure to pay fees on time, The NewsHawks has learnt.


War veterans have been a vital cog in Zanu PF’s election campaigns and have in some cases been accused of using brute force to bolster support for the ruling party, especially in the early 2000s.

However, they have constantly been at loggerheads with the government over their welfare, which has been deteriorating following the erosion of their pensions and other benefits due to hyperinflation. 

The war veterans are entitled by law to pension, basic healthcare and education, according to the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) of 2020.

This week, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) said fees for children of veterans and collaborators have remained unpaid for the past two semesters or three terms since last year.

Some institutions have shut the door on war veterans’ children.

“Students have been greatly affected. Institutions like the University of Zimbabwe have been having challenges enrolling the children of war veterans. While the university has now started enrolling, accommodation still remains a great challenge. Other institutions like the Great Zimbabwe University are refusing to enroll,” Edward Dube, the war veterans’ interim executive committee’s publicity and information secretary, told The NewsHawks.

In a statement this week, the ZNLWVA urged the government to take swift action to ensure that learners are not subjected to unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, ultimately impeding their educational progress.

“The ZNLWVA emphasises that this situation constitutes a failure on the part of the government to fulfill its obligations as outlined in the statutory provisions of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) of 2020,” reads the statement.

“The ZNLWVA has made both formal and informal appeals to address this matter, but as of yet, no resolution has been reached. Consequently, students find themselves in a state of dilemma and uncertainty, especially since some universities are scheduled to commence classes this week. Furthermore, the ZNLWVA brings attention to Sustainable Development Goal 4, which calls for the provision of inclusive and equitable quality education while promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“The association urges the authorities to uphold the principles enshrined in this goal and address the current challenges faced by the students. The ZNLWVA calls upon the concerned authorities to give immediate attention to this matter, recognising the importance of providing equitable access to education for the children of war veterans. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that these students are not deprived of their right to education due to administrative delays.”

War veterans’ welfare has raised a stink over the years. For instance, fired War Veterans and Liberation Struggle Affairs minister Chris Mutsvangwa was at loggerheads with war veterans, who believe he did little to improve their welfare and incorporation into the development matrix.

In February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked Mutsvangwa, who had been his key ally, but did not give reasons.

While Mutsvangwa says he played a key role in Mnangagwa’s ascendency in the 2017 military coup, he had been on collision course with war veterans over the years, having been fired as chairperson of the ZNLWVA in April last year.

This followed accusations of unprofessionalism and failure to improve their livelihoods, before dramatically bouncing back as minister after the disputed general elections.

The ZNLWVA has been calling on the government to collaborate with them to develop policies that directly address challenges faced by the ex-guerrillas.

The ZNLWVA has also been urging the government to develop initiatives that promote entrepreneurship, skills development and employment opportunities specifically designed for war veterans to sustain their livelihoods.

On social support, the war veterans have been demanding that social support and welfare services be made readily available to them, which includes healthcare, counselling services, housing and other social welfare programmes.

The grouping has urged the government to also assist war veterans to access affordable housing loans, subsidies or grants, while establishing partnerships with financial institutions to provide favourable funding terms, which the authorities are yet to fulfil.

“The proposed partnership with the ZNLWVA can address the needs of war veterans and ensure their overall well-being through access to farming land,” said the ZNLWVA in its congratulatory letter to fired minister Mutsvangwa in September last year.

“Collaborate with the ZNLWVA to facilitate access to farming land for war veterans. Identify suitable agricultural land, provide necessary support in terms of land allocation, secure tenure rights, and assist war veterans with farming inputs, equipment, and training.

By ensuring access to farming land, war veterans can engage in agricultural activities, secure a sustainable source of income, and contribute to food security and agricultural development in Zimbabwe,” read the statement.

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