We can only work within a framework President Mugabe


Rtd Col Tshinga J. Dube Special Correspondent
THE leadership of Marange/Zimunya District, the Minister of Provincial Affairs Manicaland Province Cde M Chimene, the Honourable Dr C C Mushohwe MP and Zanu-PF Secretary for Economic Affairs. I would like to thank you for inviting me to this special occasion. I want to give tribute to the district party war

veterans who have worked together with the party to put up this building in their own effort, setting a wonderful example to other districts.

We are all aware that our country is facing serious economic challenges, but we must not continue to be cry-babies; we must fight against all odds, especially those challenges that have been deliberately imposed on us such as economic sanctions.

Zanu-PF is invincible and I am happy to say that war veterans are very loyal to the party and cannot be separated from the party. We must continue to strengthen that unity. We are sometimes swayed by the press, which at times has a different agenda from that of ours.

I am not attacking the press anyway, because they are a necessary evil to keep our people informed of what is going on and criticise us when we do the wrong things and let the public know that we are doing the wrong things. But at times, they overemphasise on their slant and tend to create wedges between the party and other party organs. We plead with you that you must be sympathetic to both our vulnerable population and the leadership.

We must know that in some countries, the press has caused wars and divisions in those countries. But who wants anything to do with war? It is only kids who watch movies on televisions and media who enjoy watching war movies.

But war itself is a terrible devil. When men lose their lives and all building structures while the architects of the war sit on their arm chairs and watch. Here we have his Excellency, the President who cares so much about the welfare of war veterans, ex-political detainees and restrictees and all those who have supported them.

He found it absolutely necessary to make it easier to look after their welfare. He formed a standalone Ministry of War Veterans, which now caters for all those who were war incapacitated. The heroes’ widows and those who were previously looked after by the Ministry of Welfare Services have recently moved to our ministry.

We put our challenges to his Excellency the President, when we held the indaba on 7 April, 2016. He carefully listened to all our challenges from mining, land and any of the problems that affected the war veterans.

You will agree with me that he promised that all the challenges will be looked after. But, we all appreciate as we have mentioned before that we suffer from economic challenges. I must say that the heart is willing, the flesh is weak. We must agree that at the same time, his Excellency has given us all the powers to run projects that can raise some money.

For all our vulnerable groups, sometimes some people complain that war veterans are making too many demands, but from my own experience, I do not think these are war veterans who want to drive some 4x4s and eat special food.

All they want is to afford a basic life with their children. All they cry out for is just sadza nemuriwo and be able to buy clothes for their families and hope to be treated when they fall sick.

I have not heard any war veteran demanding a position from the Government. I repeat, they want basic care from the Government.

We must remember that they spent their young ages fighting in the bush against the evil Smith regime. Some of them left home when they were young and came back when they were old men having acquired various diseases from various insects in the bush and some of the diseases were caused by unbalanced diet and unclean water.

It is the turn of our people to sympathise with these comrades. Some of our comrades here look down upon war veterans as rabble-rousers. Yes, there are some people we call house negroes who are against war veterans leading on acquisition of land.

People like Cde Chinotimba who named themselves as commander of land grab were looked upon as mad people who were lawless, but today it is only those people who do not know how the colonialists grabbed land from us. They killed our forefathers because they did not have sophisticated weapons. They butchered them and took away their cattle and shared amongst themselves.

Today, most of us have benefited from the land reform. Yes, we know the serious problems we face with getting capital to develop our land.

The banks are for the rich people. If you go to the bank to ask for loans, they will make demands of the title deeds and the only people who have title deeds are the rich ones, but those are the people, who when they get to the banks even the bank manager wants them to be served with coffee.

We need to address all these problems. If the banks cannot serve the ordinary people, then they must write on their doors that only rich people must come here. Then we will know whether there are enough rich people to keep doors of all the banks open.

Coming to discipline, Cdes, let me go back to the great Indaba we held in April. Our patron, the President, was full of praise of your discipline. A lot of people expected us to behave in a manner that would please the detractors of our party. But you behaved in a manner that left everybody surprised. Everybody was in a happy and praiseworthy mood. Please let us maintain that spirit and demonstrate to our patron that we have not changed from what we were. I must repeat that we must be very careful of the press.

Some of the sections of the press would like a wedge between our party and war veterans. They misconstrue whatever you say. When I was young, I was told that an elderly man has a right to say whatever he wants to say and if you are a younger man, you must not answer back or show any disrespect or whatever you may feel. . . . You do not have to show that you do not like what he has done.

Just pretend that you did not hear anything. We shall soon be going for elections and if we go for elections divided, we are giving room to those who are working against us. Let me end by talking a little bit about the welfare of the war veterans and challenges they are facing: lack of unity — we all know that divided we fall, united we stand.

I want to repeat that we are the only country with divided groups of people who call themselves war veterans. I recently read in the press that former Zipra veterans were being neglected and in a ridiculous state. But I wish to say that in our offices we do not look at a person from his political belief, the only qualification is that you have been vetted. Those who were not vetted are left out of the benefits.

I believe almost everybody learnt that there was a vetting exercise going on. Those who were left out in eighties had a chance to do so in nineties. Now we are 36 years after independence, if someone did not register as a war veteran and then there must have been some problems which have to be looked into at our offices.

I have known some groups who fall under that category and we are seriously looking at such cases. The ex-detainees and restrictees have been much easier because they are fewer and about 5 000 people though old and fast running out due to the laws of nature.

If there are any ex-detainees who are not vetted, please go to your district office and compile your cases, these will then be brought to our offices and this should be done as soon as possible.

As for mujibha and chimbwidos, you will remember that you were not catered for in the old constitution. But the new Constitution Amendment Number 20 of 2013 says that you are part of the former liberation forces. There are some comrades who were working in the offices of liberation movements in Lusaka and Maputo.

These were left out when the vetting of war veterans was done. Now they are all pushed under the Act and they will qualify to be vetted as collaborators. Some were assigned to various duties including going to school. We must understand that you were not allowed to choose what you wanted to do during the war.

Some were sent to schools, some as party representatives, some did maintenance work and never went to school while some were secretaries. All these qualify to be collaborators.

Yes, the question is when they are going to be vetted. I think almost every collaborator is asking that question. I must answer you today and say there is what we call alignment of the Constitution to the laws.

This alignment process is almost through. The Cabinet has approved it. Soon after drafting this law, it must go to Parliament to be debated i.e. by the end of July. You must appreciate that our Ministry can only work within the framework of the Bill being passed by the Parliament.

It is difficult to embrace you according to the Constitution currently in place. Some are impatient. Yes you are right to be impatient, because most of our comrades are dying at an alarming rate. If I said we are losing an average of 10 comrades a day, you will think my statistics are shallow because what we see on TVs or read in the newspapers about the death of our liberation heroes are only those in the cities or towns.

But the majority of our people live in the countryside if someone dies, they would rather bury the following day and we will never get to know who they were. That is why I say the statistics of 10 people dying a day is not a wild guess.

That is why we have to expedite this process. In the past, we have set up some dates. We first said vetting will be done in December 2015, but we did not have the means to do it. Then we thought by March 2016 we would have something, but then it came out clear that we could not do much before the alignment of the Constitution to the laws.

So, stop blaming us as a ministry after all we are only one year as a ministry as this problem has been there for 36 years. Dear comrades, once more, I thank you for inviting me. This shows your love of the party and our organisation of the war veterans.

This is the speech delivered by the Honourable Colonel (RTD) Tshinga J Dube, MP, Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex Political Detainees and Restrictees to war veterans at Bazeley Bridge, Marange yesterday.

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