AN independent war veterans’ body, the Concerned Freedom Fighters (CFF), has urged War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube to avoid using their plight as a Zanu PF election campaign gimmick, but honour his pledge to improve their welfare.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Dube recently said his ministry is pushing for an increase in monthly allowances for ex-combatants, from under $250 to about $500 with their funeral cover moving up to $2 000 from $800.
CFF chairperson, Volta Siwela yesterday told Southen Eye that the initiatives were welcome but warned that the move might be a Zanu PF campaign strategy ahead of next year’s crunch polls, where the ruling party faces a stiff challenge from a possible coalesced opposition.
“War veterans’ are totally living in abject poverty due to unfulfilled promises by the Zanu PF government,” he said.
“We hope the minister is not using the same tactics of trying to lure the poor comrades to be used as cannon fodder for Zanu PF during elections.”
Contacted for comment, Dube said the increasing of monthly allowances for ex-combatants is yet to be tabled in Cabinet.
“We are still pushing it because we think it is a reasonable figure ($500) to ensure one has a normal life.
“Most of the comrades are struggling after sacrificing so much for the country and we believe that has to change by making sure the allowances are linked to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL),” he said.
President Robert Mugabe always talks of the important role played by war veterans during the armed struggle — but only the connected have benefited from government largesse, as thousands wallow in poverty and have to make-do with measly monthly allowances.
In 1997, government succumbed to pressure and paid out a staggering Z$50 000 as pension to each war veteran, a move that triggered a major economic shake-up.