By Anna Chibamu
DEFENCE and War Veterans permanent secretary Mark Grey Marongwe has hit out at some locals who claim the country’s economic plunge was triggered by the ZW$50 000 awarded to each war veteran back in 1997.
Marongwe was giving oral evidence before parliament’s Defence Committee on Wednesday.
The top government official also slammed the country’s media for allegedly feeding into the narrative that the country’s liberators had a hand in the economic crisis.
“I have never seen this anywhere in the world,” Marongwe said.
“You come across articles in the newspapers that talk of these veterans given ZW$50 000 ‘and they destroyed the economy…this and that’!
“…When the war veterans got the money, did they go outside to spend the money or it was ploughed back into the economy?”
In 1997, war veterans, led by their late firebrand chair Chenjerai Hunzvi inundated then President Robert Mugabe’s government with demands for gratuities for waging the country’s liberation struggle from the white Rhodesian government.
Government disbursed an unbudgeted chunk that triggered an economic free-fall whose effects are still being felt to date.
Some locals still feel the controversial expenditure was ill-advised and did not pay heed to dire economic consequences that were there.
Marongwe feels this is wrong of fellow Zimbabweans.
“I had never thought about it but this was said by an outsider who was telling me this,” he said of a Namibian government minister he says once blamed negative reportage around the war veterans’ compensation.
“We took a long time to recognise these war vets without any question.
“In Zimbabwe, it has taken so long but we notice that even in the USA, they fight any war without being questioned but here, for some unknown reason we have a very low regard for some people who sacrificed their youth and their valuable assets, their lives to fight for this country.”