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.
President Emerson Mnangagwa on Saturday sacked Mutsvangwa, who has been his key ally, but did not give reasons.
Mutsvangwa played a key role in the 2017 military coup that brought Mnangagwa to power.
He has however been colliding with war veterans over the years, having been fired as chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) in April last year, over accusations of unprofessionalism and failure to improve their livelihoods, before dramatically bouncing back as minister after the disputed general elections.
Although he said he does not know why Mutsvangwa was fired, ZNLWVA secretary-general Edward Dube confirmed there was bad blood between the executive and the minister.
“The association does not celebrate but is not disappointed when an appointing authority disappoints a minister who has failed to collaborate with the war veterans community on matters of association and national interest which the association has been advocating since his appointment,” said Dube.
“The issues were raised in writing to the honourable minister, but he did not respond or acknowledge receipt.
“He was not propagating constitutional and statutory obligations stated in the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) and the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
The ZNLWVA executive wrote a congratulatory letter to Mutsvangwa in last October after his appointment as minister, highlighting their grievances and key priority areas of collaboration. He neither responded nor acknowledged.
In the letter dated 22 October 2023 seen by The NewsHawks, war veterans urged Mutsvangwa to prioritise collaboration and mending relations while rebuilding lost trust.
“Congratulations on your appointment as the Cabinet Minister of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Affairs in Zimbabwe. This esteemed role presents a valuable opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of war veterans,” read the letter by Andrease Mathibela, ZNLWVA chairperson.
“We recognise that there has been an unsynchronised relationship between the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) leadership and the ministry in the past. However, we believe that by adopting an inclusive approach, you can rebuild trust and foster a productive collaboration.”
The ZNLWVA said the inclusive approach should address the needs of war veterans and ensure their overall well-being through policy development, advocacy and representation and access to benefits and support.
The war veterans’ grouping urged Mutsvangwa to collaborate with the ZNLWVA to develop policies that directly address challenges faced by the former freedom fighters, by seeking recommendations based on their first-hand experiences.
“The collaboration should recognize the ZNLWVA as a strong advocate for war veterans within the government. Emphasize that you value their role in safeguarding the interests of war veterans and commit to actively involving them in decision-making processes. By working together, you (Mutsvangwa) can effectively communicate and address the concerns, rights, and welfare of war veterans within the government structure,” reads the ZNLWVA letter.
“Collaborate with the ZNLWVA to ensure that war veterans have seamless access to the programmes and benefits administered by your ministry. Seek their input in designing and delivering benefits, while jointly identifying gaps and proposing improvements to enhance the support provided to war veterans.”
The ZNLWVA also urged Mutsvangwa to develop initiatives that promote entrepreneurship, skills development, and employment opportunities specifically designed for war veterans to sustain their livelihoods.
The grouping has also demanded that Mutsvangwa ensure that social support and welfare services are made readily available to war veterans, which includes healthcare, counselling services, housing and other social welfare programmes.
On land ownership, the ZNLWVA said Mutsvangwa should promote access to farmland and residential stands for war veterans.
The grouping also demanded adjustments to the land tenure system that would see them having long-term access to land.
The ZNLWVA also demanded that Mutsvangwa assist war veterans to access affordable housing loans, subsidies, or grants, while establishing partnerships with financial institutions to provide favourable funding terms.
“The proposed partnership with the ZNLWVA can address the needs of war veterans and ensure their overall well-being through access to farming land.
“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,” reads the letter.
“Advocate for legislative reforms and policies that protect the land rights of war veterans. Collaborate with the ZNLWVA to address land disputes and ensure secure land ownership for war veterans. By securing land tenure rights, war veterans can have long-term access to land for farming, residential purposes, and other productive activities.
“Provide agricultural support and training programmes for war veterans who have access to farming land. Collaborate with the ZNLWVA to offer technical assistance, capacity-building workshops, and knowledge-sharing platforms to enhance their farming skills, productivity, and sustainable agricultural practices. Facilitate partnerships with agricultural institutions and provide financial resources to support war veterans in their agricultural endeavours.”
However, Mutsvangwa never responded to the letter, with nothing being done to improve the lives of war veterans.
This is not the first time for Mutsvangwa — who has a sense of entitlement about the liberation struggle while also always giving completely unrealistic explanations about the state of the economy detached from reality — has been sacked as minister or senior government official.
In 2018, Mnangagwa removed Mutsvangwa as his special adviser following the 2017 military coup which brought him to power.