A majority of war veterans are wallowing in poverty across the country and many have been turned destitute because of corruption and politics of patronage in President Robert Mugabe’s government, Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Joice Mujuru has said.
BY SILAS NKALA
Addressing thousands of ZimPF supporters at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda yesterday, Mujuru said she visited Ngozi Mine recently and was shocked to see ex-Zipra war veterans living at a garbage dumpsite.
“I had never seen that people can survive through scavenging for garbage. What makes this worse is that these are people who fought for the liberation of this country,” she said.
Mujuru promised to come to the rescue of impoverished former liberation fighters in the country and to end corruption once she assumes power. She also said she would strive to mend diplomatic relations with the international community to secure the much-needed foreign direct investment.
Her visit to the mine followed reports by our sister paper NewsDay that some ex-Zipra war veterans were surviving through scrounging for garbage at the mine.
Among the affected war veterans were David Maduna (67), whose liberation war name was Msindo Tshabalala, who said he joined the liberation struggle in 1978 and trained in Angola. He said he came back in 1979 and fought in Sipolilo area of Mashonaland.
Mujuru took a swipe at Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, saying it was sad that while government ministers lived in opulence, war veterans of the liberation struggle lived miserable lives, 36 years after independence.
“We hear that some [ministers] have 52-bedroomed houses in a country where others are living at dumpsites,” she said. “That is when we then wonder where they would have gotten the money in a country struggling to look after its people. That is when we start asking, where did the $15 billion they are saying disappeared go to?”
She said it was unfortunate that the country was grappling with poverty and an economic crisis while corrupt officials were living like kings.
“Corruption is too much in this country; that is why there is no progress,” she said.
Mujuru said her party would connect with the people and not micromanage the country as Zanu PF ministers were doing to enable them to loot national resources.
“We notice that what we fought for has been side-lined. Some were killed, some lost their limbs, and some have permanent wounds as a result of the struggle,” she said.
“In 1980 people celebrated when the country got its independence. There were differences which emerged between PF Zapu and Zanu and this eventually led to the Unity Accord, but there was no progress brought by that unity.”
Mujuru claimed she was victimised when she pointed out while in government that many people in Matabeleland and other marginalised areas were being neglected.
She said as it is today, the Unity Accord — which Zanu PF still claimed to exist — was now useless. The former vice-president said what was needed were leaders who would save the nation from the misery caused by Zanu PF.
Mujuru also called for a stop to State-sponsored violence and warned the police that justice would catch up with them if they continued to beat up people, including peaceful demonstrators.
The rally was attended by the party’s top officials, among them Dzikamai Mavhaire, Kudzai Mbudzi, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Methuseli Moyo. The police blocked the party’s other rally that had been earmarked for Ntabazinduna on Friday.