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Zimbabwe Govt has neglected ZPRA ex-combatants

ZPRA ex-combatants have called out the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration for allegedly lying that they were beneficiaries of an on-going former freedom fighters' welfare programme.

In June, the government said it was running a welfare programme targeting ZPRA ex-combatants who were wallowing in poverty.

At the time, Bulawayo Provincial affairs minister Judith Ncube revealed plans to assist ailing ZPRA combatant Moffat Hadebe, an 83-year-old veteran and pioneer of the liberation struggle.

Hadebe, who is reported to have fired the first gunshots in 1964 to mark the start of the armed struggle against white minority rule, is living in abject poverty and battling ill health.

A Zanu-PF delegation led by Ncube visited Hadebe at his Magwegwe, Bulawayo, home where they found him struggling to make ends meet.

Ncube yesterday denied reneging on the promise to assist ailing and impoverished ZPRA ex-combatants.

"It's still work in progress; whenever challenges are identified, we mobilise resources to assist our freedom fighters in collaboration with their respective associations," Ncube said.

She could, however, not reveal how many ZPRA ex-combatants have so far been assisted, financially or with material resources.

Zimbabwe National Liberation war Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Bulawayo spokesperson Christopher Sibanda was evasive when contacted for comment yesterday.

However, Zapu acting president Isaac Mabuka said the opposition party had no records of ZPRA cadres receiving government support under the ongoing welfare programme save for the monthly gratuities that ex-combatants received.

He bemoaned the neglect of ex-combatants belonging to the party's military wing during the armed struggle.

"As a party, we have no records of that. I have not come across any ZPRA cadre who has benefited from this programme, hence we have taken it upon ourselves as a party to mobilise resources and assist where we can," Mabuka said.

A number of Zapu and ZPRA veterans are wallowing in poverty. They also complain of the failure of the government to recognise their contributions in the liberation struggle with many overlooked for hero status.

In Bulawayo, Lady Stanley Cemetery has become a de-facto Heroes Acre for Zapu and ZPRA veterans.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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