by Staff Reporter
WAR veterans have claimed they are living in abject poverty and demanded that the coalition government comes up with a loan facility to enable them to start self help projects. The independence war fighters believe they are entitled to such facilities under the 1997 War Veterans Act.
War veterans were handed payouts of Z$50,000 in 1997 helping trigger the so-called “Black Friday” on November 14 of the same year when the Zimbabwe dollar lost 71,5 percent of its value and the stock market crashed 46 percent.
Experts say although the country’s economy properly hit the skids beginning 2000, the roots of the crisis could be traced to the unbudgeted war veterans’ payouts as well as Zimbabwe’s participation in the DRC civil war.
However, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Cairo Mhandu, a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on defence told state radio Tuesday that war veterans were living in poverty and needed more money to start self-help projects.
“From 1997, Ministers of Finance since then have totally ignored the War Veterans Act. War veterans are being disadvantaged in terms of accessing loan facilities,” he said.
“We are saying the government should make sure that we get these loans now because since 1997 we have been waiting, the economy is recovering and something should be done to assist us.”
Joseph Chinotimba, another war veterans’ leader added: “war veterans are for the country, they fought for the liberation of the country.
“When the authorities deal with our issues, they must not see us as Zanu PF war veterans as we fought for everyone, even for those who go to church.
“We are living in abject poverty yet some members of the society have access to loans.”
Under the 1997 legislation, the war veterans are entitled to a gratuity, settlement benefits, loans, and education benefits, medical as well as funeral benefits.
The ex-fighters – dismissed by critics as shock troopers for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party – are also entitled to a monthly state pension which many say is inadequate.
Labels: WAR VETERANS