WAR veterans have congratulated new minister for War Veterans and Liberation Struggle Affairs Chris Mutsvangwa on his appointment, but have told him to prioritise collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA).
They said this will help to rebuild trust and foster a productive relationship while addressing their welfare issues.
Mutsvangwa, who has been on a collision course with war veterans, made a surprise return to cabinet, after he was shoved out as ZNLWVA chairperson in April this year over accusations of unprofessionalism and failure to improve their livelihoods.
War veterans have been a vital cog in Zanu PF’s electoral 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 monthly drawdowns due to hyperinflation. Last month, the ZNLWVA also demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa include them in his development matrix, after his re-election in the disputed poll.
This week, the war veterans’ grouping reinforced its demands, this time to Mutsvangwa, while giving him a chance to mend the severed relations.
“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,” said the ZNLWVA interim executive committee’s publicity and information secretary, Edward Dube.
“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.”
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 said Mutsvangwa should 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 statement.
“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 says Mutsvangwa should also 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, counseling services, housing and other social welfare programmes.
On land ownership, the ZNLWVA said Mutsvangwa should promote access to farming land and residential stands for war veterans.
The grouping has also demanded for adjustments to the land tenure system that would see them having long-term access to land.
The grouping said Mutsvangwa should also 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,” read the statement.
“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.”