Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Taking War Vets Issues to Heart in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
JULY 30, 2017
Rtd Brig-Gen Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi

In March 2017, the Ministry of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees asked all categories of war veterans to air their grievances.

It was a 15-day exercise that saw veterans countrywide respond to questionnaires through the ministry’s provincial offices.

The initiative stemmed from the meeting between President Mugabe and the veterans on April 7, 2016.

One of the contentious issues to pop up was the displacement of war veterans from properties allocated to them under the Land Reform Programme.

Some Government and party officials and others with authority have tested their powers on war veterans, their guinea pigs.

Numerous land displacements have occurred, and the President addressed that issue at length, saying nobody should be removed from their allocated land unprocedurally.

He asked the ministry to compile a list of aggrieved war veterans and those requiring land but are yet to get it.

President Mugabe said, “Give me the list so that I task the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement to act accordingly.”

The land issue should be concluded before the next meeting with the President (around August/September).

The ministry has contracted some university students to help compile the record, which will assist the President’s decision-making.

The complaints are so many that the documentation involved is a nightmare! There is floor-to-ceiling paperwork, and the ministry is understaffed.

20 percent rule

Over 2 627 land applications have been received from war veterans, war collaborators, ex-detainees and widows of veterans.

On the other hand, 106 war veterans, 26 war collaborators and six widows have been arbitrarily displaced from their pieces of land.

Before taking names to the President, the matter has to be discussed with the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry.

Only points of disagreement will then be taken to the President.

So, basically, the comrades’ grievances are known and the War Veterans Ministry is doing something about it.

Corruption is also common in cases where war veterans are disadvantaged because some people are bribing lands officials to get properties.

It is an emotive issue.

From a moral standpoint, anyone who takes land from a war veteran is evil. I think the devil lives next door to such a person.

People should understand that there is a policy which stipulates that 20 percent of every piece of land acquired by Government for redistribution is reserved for war veterans.

That policy has been in place since 2006. It is an operating policy that has been thrashed out over time.

However, the good intentions of that policy have been more or less cast out of the window.

Government is now realigning the War Veterans Act and the Ex-detainees Act with the Constitution and ensuring the 20 percent land quota becomes enforceable.

Meeting the President

The War Veterans Ministry will soon convene its first preparatory engagement for the said meeting with President Mugabe.

zanu-pf Politburo members — Cdes Ignatius Chombo (Administration), Kembo Mohadi (Security) and Sydney Sekeramayi (War Veterans), and officials from the Office of the President will attend the preparatory meeting.

An ad-hoc committee has been appointed to review last year’s resolutions and gauge their implementation by Government and party.

The committee is chaired by Major-General (Retired) Richard Ruwodo, the Principal Director in the War Veterans Ministry and incorporates officials from other relevant ministries, the security sector, OPC and zanu-pf.

This committee has 10 days to carry out preparatory work and design the plan for the meeting with the President.

The meeting’s structure will be considered and thematic committees reviewed.

We are concerned that most resolutions from last year’s meeting have not been implemented; so that will be the starting point in our planning.

The ministry has an open-door policy and an arm’s length relationship with all war veterans associations.

It represents every veteran, with the overarching mandate to organise and unify war veterans.

The ministry only takes issue when associations are divided.

It is important to note that the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association’s membership accounts for only 23 percent of all veterans combined.

In that regard, the ministry does not deal with associations, but directly with war veterans.

Brigadier-General (Retired) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi is the Secretary for Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees. He shared these views with The Sunday Mail’s Chief Reporter Kuda Bwititi in Harare last week.

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