By Anna Chibamu
SCORES of war veterans Tuesday staged a demonstration outside President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Munhumutapa offices in central Harare demanding his intervention into the non-payment of their pensions and outstanding balances from the 1997 gratuities.
The ex-combatants, who are affiliated to a welfare scheme, carried machine printed placards that outlined their demands in what looked like a well-choreographed protest action.
They petitioned Mnangagwa, also a war veteran, to help in the release of their pensions as per Statutory Instrument 280-281 of 1997 which was approved by government in terms of the War Veterans Act.
The former fighters also want to be paid some outstanding $450 000 balances after they all pocketed $50 000 each in terms of gratuities in 1997.
The group, which was not aligned to the militant Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association whose secretary general is Defence and War Veterans Minister Victor Matemadanda, sang revolutionary songs while demanding their dues.
The welfare committee had approached the courts over the matter and was recently granted a court order to demonstrate over their demands.
In their petition, the war veterans also want their pensions increased.
They accused Matemadanda of not being a proper war veteran and playing double standards through failing to push for their demands while calling them rebels.
The ex-fighters said the minister was enjoying benefits which he never deserved.
“What are renegades? Matemadanda is calling us renegades. It is very painful for us to hear that when we fought this liberation war. This is very wrong. We have made an effort to meet the President and we met him over this SI 280-281 of 1997.
“Matemadanda refused an interview on national broadcaster to explain his war credentials. He cannot even tell anyone where he trained at,” said one Shorai Nyamangodo.
The protesting group said they were earning $234 per month.
They have since petitioned government through the High Court demanding at least $2 000 per month which they claim was stipulated in the cited statutory instrument.
Dr Dadirai Chinomona, who claimed to have bombed Departmental Store (Woolworths) along First Street in Harare (then Salisbury, Rhodesia) on August 1977, told Newzimbabwe.com that government should increase their pensions to a reasonable figure and deal with the lump-sum $450 000 at a later stage.
The leader of the Welfare Committee, Amos Sigauke, whose Chimurenga name was Vasco, said former President Robert Mugabe’s promises had not been fulfilled.
He further said Mnangagwa was present when their welfare scheme was approved so he must now honour everything they put on paper.
“We are not having these demands from nowhere. They are written on paper through the SI 280-281 of 1997. President knows that,” Sigauke said.