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Zimbos against war veterans compensation

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
A SURVEY by a local non-governmental organisation has revealed that Zimbabweans are unhappy over government’s plans to pay more compensation to over 160 000 war veterans who were recently vetted.

The study by the Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd) sampled people in Bulawayo, Harare, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo to get their views on the compensation of the war veterans.

This was after concerns were raised that the number of war veterans in the country has actually ballooned from the 34 000 who were compensated in 1997 to 160 000 after the vetting of war collaborators and detainees this year.

“The survey noted that although the compensation of the war veterans is a welcome development, the continuous increase in the number of war veterans makes one wonder whether they (fought) their own liberation struggle; which is different from the one that was fought in the 1970s,” the Zimcodd statement said.

“Thus, lack of transparency in the selection process remains a cause for concern. According to one key informant from Gweru, the increase in the numbers defies logic as it reflects that more war veterans were born between 1997 and 2022 and glamorise wholesome and populistic policies. To this end, the politics of public resources was regarded as the epicentre of the controversial increase in numbers; pointing to the hegemony in the political economy of the country.”

Zimcodd also said the identification process lacked transparency because it was not publicised.

“The principle of transparency and accountability remains the nerve-centre of prudent public finance management. Since its inception the war veterans’ compensation process has been done in an opaque manner in which the citizens are not furnished with the granular details of how the beneficiaries are selected. The selection model should never be done in secrecy and the Ministry of Defence should put the list of qualities that are used to select beneficiaries on its website. This essentially will also help in building public confidence and trust,” Zimcodd added.

Economist Brian Sedze said without an increase in productivity and the tax base, government would be forced to print money to finance the programme.

“The economy will scream. This time, expect complete death of the currency, accelerated inflation and exchange rate because 160 000 war veterans is such a big leap in numbers compared to (less than) 50 000 in 1997. Pensions, long-term investments, savings, insurance and medical aid will die a bigger death fast. The economy will self-dollarise and sovereign debt will multiply beyond the US$19 billion curtailing future growth. The little jobs in manufacturing will die; and with erosion of income, people can expect massive job action and an increase in the protest vote,” Sedze said in an opinion piece recently.

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