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Independence Day: War vets not happy over unfulfilled promises

Local News
In a statement to mark the 44th Independence Day celebrations, the Zimbabwe Liberation Memorial Hospitals (Private) Limited said ex-combatants were disappointed.

Government has been accused of reneging on its promises to construct 10 state-of-the-art memorial hospitals across the country in honour of war veterans.

The hospitals were meant to service ex-combatants as well as war collaborators, detainees and other interest groups for their role during the armed struggle.

In 2018, government claimed to have set up a special purpose vehicle to spearhead the project.

Three years earlier, it had said it had secured funding from a US$250 million credit facility from the Export and Import Bank (Exim Bank of India) for the project.

However, there has been zero movement on the project.

In a statement to mark the 44th Independence Day celebrations, the Zimbabwe Liberation Memorial Hospitals (Private) Limited said ex-combatants were disappointed.

Hospital, Industrial and Scientific Investments chief executive Fredrick Ngombe said there was no political will to cater for war veterans’ needs.

“As the nation of Zimbabwe approaches its 44th Independence Day on April 18, 2024, the Zimbabwe Liberation Memorial Hospitals (Private) Limited stands in remembrance of the valiant heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives and the well-being of their families in the pursuit of our liberation,” Ngombe said.

“Yet, almost half a century post-independence, we find the welfare of our esteemed veterans of the liberation struggle ensnared in a web of endless planning, bureaucratic gymnastics and projects plagued by perpetual false starts.

“This is a disheartening reality that betrays the principles for which they fought.”

Ngombe rallied Zimbabweans to push authorities to “uphold the values and sacrifices of both the fallen and the living”.

“The welfare of our veterans should not be a mere footnote in history, but a priority realised within their lifetimes,” he said.

In an interview with NewsDay, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson Ethan Mathibela said government had failed to cater for the welfare of war veterans. 

“The medical service proposal we gave to the government for assistance has been unfortunate more than twice. First of all, it was with the first republic,” Mathibela said.

“It had Cabinet approval and then the government had a change of heart at the last minute, which was very unfortunate.

“Secondly, with the second republic, it’s the same thing. It would look like the plight of veterans is not taken very seriously.”

Mathibela said ex-combatants were living miserable lives.

“You can see 44 years down the line, you look at the welfare of veterans, in their large numbers, I could safely put it, between 80% and 90% of war veterans, they have nothing to show for it, very sadly,” he said.

“Yet this country has so much in terms of resources, natural resources, which are God-given. But we still are wallowing in abject poverty.

Efforts to get a comment from Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Affairs minister Monica Mavhunga were fruitless as she was not picking calls.

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