By Anna Chibamu
THE War veterans board has been given 14 days to report back to Parliament on how they have used funds meant for economic empowerment of the liberation struggle fighters.
Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services Parly committee acting chairperson, Albert Ngulube and other committee members gave the board the ultimatum to explain why war veterans’ welfare had continued to deteriorate yet they had running companies which were generating income as well as budget funds from treasury.
During the oral evidence hearing from Defence secretary Aaron Nhepera and War veterans board chairperson Major-General (Rtd) Gibson Mashingaidze, it was revealed that dividends from War Veterans investments in Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces had not been handed over to the new board.
“I’m aware that we do have some conservancy in Matetsi in Matebeleland North and some livestock near Bulawayo.
“The new board is engaging the management of these ventures to try and understand what was going on. We are going to take the matter to the minister,” Nhepera told the Defence committee.
Admitting there were concerns by the new board on investments’ dividends, the Defence secretary reported the Auditor General had raised the issues but he was still to see the report.
“Whatever is happening, there has not come into what the new board is doing, they are engaging so that they understand what is happening there so that they can bring those investments under the new board. These are issues giving us some problems and we are seized with them and we hope we are going to overcome them.”
Nhepera said Kuvimba mining was another source of revenue for the War Veterans.
“The new board is engaging other potential partners to improve the welfare of all liberation war heroes.
“From Kuvimba mining, US$200 000 was given to the cooperation and from that figure only US$9 000 was made available and we are engaging the treasury,” added Nhepera.
Despite all this, the new board installed last year told the committee their coffers were empty as they were working hard to get the investment dividends through the Defence ministry.
Narrating progress, Mashingaidze said: “The mandate that the board was given basically required it to establish Veterans Investment Corporation board (VIC) from when we were established, this was priority number one.
“We are pleased chairman to report that we have the VIC board and we have already started to work on what they were assigned to do. The VIC board was seconded by the Finance ministry.
He added: “As a board, we managed to establish and decentralize the administration of the War Veterans Department to the district level. We have provincial and district field officers countrywide.
“Challenges such as transport, school fees and land can now be referred to these offices before being forwarded to the Defence ministry”.
Mashingaidze further said “the VIC board has not been operational due to lack of finance where it got a little from the Finance ministry.”
Nhepera also highlighted that the established Fund for the war veterans will fund their welfare.
“The funds to be sourced by VIC will be deposited to the War Veterans Fund where funding needed for the welfare of the liberation war members will be drawn from apart from what we get from the treasury.”
Finance ministry Director for Infrastructure Development Bernard Mupuriri responded during the hearing saying both the minister of Finance and Defence had met and resolved the matter.
“Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri have agreed that amount was not for working capital but to go towards asset acquisition and what we are waiting for is for the identification of properties so that resources can be disbursed,” said Mupuriri.