OPPOSITION MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa yesterday dangled lump sum pensions and decent living conditions for veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war if they support him in the forthcoming elections.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Chamisa said the war veterans would be compensated according to their contribution to the liberation struggle.
The MDC-T leader and MDC Alliance presidential candidate also said that his rival and Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa was in a panic mode, hence his recent unbudgeted for salary concessions to restive civil servants and war veterans to win their votes in the upcoming general elections.
Addressing supporters at Bambazonke business centre in Marange, Mutare West constituency, Chamisa said Mnangagwa only agreed to meet war veterans and address their concerns last week after they threatened to dump him ahead of this year’s general elections.
But he said his government would dole out hefty lump sum packages for war veterans and urged them to dump the ruling, which he accused of only paying lip service to their concerns when facing elections.
“Our war veterans are not going to starve in our presence because we appreciate what they have done to this country and, as a country, we are going to ensure that they get what they deserve as gallant sons of this great nation,” he said.
“We are going to pay them a decent lump sum pension according to their contribution to the liberation struggle. Mnangagwa is engaging war veterans because he fears election defeat.”
Mnangagwa on Friday met thousands of war veterans in Harare, where they demanded immediate review of their $206 monthly pension and raised concern over their alleged sidelining in the just-ended Zanu PF primary elections.
They also demanded duty-free motor vehicle import facilities, tollgate exemptions, as well as free parking in all urban centres and Mnangagwa said he would look into some of the issues raised.
The government has also succumbed to pressure from civil servants and awarded a 10% salary increment across the board.
In 1997, war veterans got away with a lump sum of ZW$50 000 gratuity each after they cornered then President Robert Mugabe, a development which severely bled the economy after $17 billion was diverted to pacify the former fighters.
In his address, Chamisa also said he was confident of a resounding victory against Mnangagwa, claiming he was surrounded by “good advisers such as former Finance minister Tendai Biti and constitutional lawyer advocate Eric Matinenga, who would make his government stronger”.
“Some people are saying that I am young, but I am surrounded by good advisers. They will always advise me. Why should people of Chiadzwa wallow in poverty amidst this greatest avalanche of resources?” he said.
“It’s clear robbery. This is the reason why people are saying that there are no diamonds because they were stealing. When we get into power, there will be clear monitoring of the precious stone.”
Chamisa said Mnangagwa had nothing new to offer to the electorate because of his association with the Mugabe administration.
“Mnangagwa alleges that he is new and has something to offer, but he has been part of Mugabe administration’s for the past 38 years. He was Mugabe’s lieutenant and he was part of the looting team.”