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'Tshinga Dube fails many'





Troops wounded in Zimbabwe's 70s liberation war have received the short end of the stick in follow-up welfare provided or organised by the former War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube, opposition legislators have complained in the National Assembly.

But Dube has refused to shoulder the blame for serious moral shortfalls arising from the crude manner in which the issue of the welfare of war veterans and their dependants has been handled to date.

MDC MP for Musikavanhu Prosper Mutseyami asked what the government was doing to improve the welfare of liberation war fighters.

"Many times, you have pointed out that you are crafting a policy and that you are working on it.  It is almost time now; your term is coming to an end, we have hardly seen anything but the war veterans out there are suffering," Mutseyami said.

"What is it that you are pushing so hard, just one thing, in the Executive, to spruce the minds of the Executive to understand the level of suffering that war veterans are going through out there, so that if you speak on this forum today, they will appreciate that one of our ministers, a war veteran, is doing this, which will last maybe in December. What is it, just one?"

Dube said he was appointed the minister only three years ago.

"I have only been a minister for War Veterans for less than two years, but I think the member appreciates that we have been through this war for 37 years.

"If you are blaming me for the two years, I accept the blame, but if you are blaming me for the 37 years since the war ended, when these issues should have been handled, then I think you are addressing them to the wrong person," Dube said.

Duibe said he will soon bring to Parliament a bill which will see the appointment of a board to deal with war veterans welfare.

"It is a process which follows all the law-making processes.  We went to the Cabinet and from the Cabinet as we know, it has to come here."

In 1997, government, under unrelenting pressure from marauding war veteran led by the late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, was forced to award gratuities of Z$50 000 (then about $4 000) to each of the surviving 50 000 war veterans as well as monthly pensions of Z$2 000 in addition to extending education and health benefits to them and their family members.

The unbudgeted hefty payouts to the war veterans had grave consequences on the economy, with the country's currency losing 72 percent of its value in a single day, on November 14, a day that is remembered in the country economic history as the Black Friday.

The economy never recovered from this severe knock.

In 2013, the leaders of the war veterans insisted that their members were still owed $18 000 each, arguing that the Z$50 000 they were paid was only a down payment of the Z$500 000 government had agreed to pay them.

Analysts this week pointed out that the proposed additional payments would further wreck the economy that is already tottering on the edge.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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