BY NIZBERT MOYO
Former Zipra fighters have accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of having double standards after government unveiled plans to compensate white commercial farmers, but remained mum on properties seized from the war veterans at the height of Gukurahundi.
Former president Robert Mugabe’s government grabbed properties bought by Zipra war veterans with their demobilisation money after he accused the Joshua Nkomo-led Zapu of plotting to topple him.
The government has refused to return the properties, some of them occupied by the Central Intelligence Organisation such as Magnet House in Bulawayo.
John Gazi, who is the chairman of Nitram, a company owned by the former fighters, said the properties seized by the government included farms, 4 000 head of
cattle, more than 30 000 chickens and vehicles.
Other properties were service stations and buildings, which the former fighters envisaged would generate income for them. The majority of the former Zipra
fighters are now wallowing in poverty.
Gazi said they were surprised to see that the government was in a hurry to compensate white farmers, but was not willing to give them back their properties.
“An example of the brutality of the Mugabe regime was the seizure of Nitram properties, which were looted, denying other people an opportunity to enjoy
independence from the colonialists,” Gazi said,
Gazi said Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi’s claims that the government would not return the Zipra properties because they now belonged to Zanu PF as a result
of the Unity Accord were misguided.
“Ziyambi is mistaking the Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu PF to a non-existent agreement between Nitram Private Limited and the government,” he said.
Outspoken former Zipra cadre Max Mnkandla said war veterans who contributed $50 each towards the purchase of the properties would not rest until the assets were returned to them.
“We are not stupid that we can buy our property and donate it to somebody without any profit,” he said.
“We want to put the record straight that Zipra, as a military side, was not involved in discussions to do with the properties.
“What was signed for and agreed upon among other things was the withdrawal of (the Fifth Brigade) from Matabeleland.”
Former Zipra intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa pulled Zapu out of the Unity Accord in 2008 saying Zanu PF was not fulfilling its part of the bargain.
The agreement was signed in 1987 to end the killings of civilians by the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands.