Wrong to blame Zimbabwe crisis on war veterans

Wrong to blame Zimbabwe crisis on war veterans
Published: 19 August 2019 (183 Views)
I have always been a fan of Zimbabwe Independent. It has an excellent record of providing the nation with sound and truthful analyses of the economic situation in Zimbabwe.

The last edition of August 9-15, 2019, is a very good example of this record. Your analyst on page 8 of your businessdigest informs us: ". . . government blocked a proposal by South African based company Mining, Oil and Gas Services (MOGS) to construct a 550km pipeline from Beira to Harare worth US$1 billion . . . Similarly the investment of more than US$400 million into the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) by the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group Consortium and Transnet is also sabotaged by red tape in government despite firm guarantees from South African financiers to bankroll the deal. After being snubbed by government, a local company, Astro Mobile has been licensed to set up a $100 million manufacturing plant in Zambia . . . Another investment, potentially worth US$1 billion, into Caps Pharmaceuticals by Indian Giant Ajanta Pharma, has hung in the balance due to unspecified reasons since April 2018. Kwese Media also faced the hurdles in its quest to getting full spectrum terrestrial licences and eventually set up regional offices in Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa . . ."
This is a shameful record of a retrogressive, backward-looking and corrupt bureaucracy contradicting His Excellency President Mnangagwa's policy of being "open for business".

We cannot go forward when our bureaucracy is actively working against government policy. It is great that the Independent can point this out to the whole of Zimbabwe. Let us fervently hope this will lead to progress.

Crazy rampage

But in the same edition on page 11, we have a crazy rampage by Muckraker claiming that war veterans are to be blamed for all the economic woes facing Zimbabwe.

When I read this page, I thought Muckraker has now gone berserk. It is not possible to blame the real economic mess Zimbabwe is in today just on war veterans. This is using hatred as analysis.

It is really disgraceful that a serious newspaper like the Independent should devote a whole page to a jumbled and incoherent diatribe. The Independent owes us readers an apology for proposing hatred as a solution to our problems.
I am proud to say I am a Zanla war veteran, and that I left a stable and well-paid job as a university lecturer to help set up an education system for 9 000 refugee children and young people in the 1970s in Mozambique.

The only payment we got at the time was soap and toothpaste! We ran education programmes from Early Childhood to "A" levels. We also ran teacher training courses for 600 teachers, as well as courses for administrators.

Today I only enjoy a pension of RTGS $550 a month after serving in government for 14 years. Nevertheless, I am better off than most other war veterans who receive less than half this amount.

I did a research into the educational levels of recruits at two military camps, Ossibissa, a camp for women freedom fighters; and Pungwe 3, which had more than 3 000 recruits.

The research showed that half the recruits were illiterate and the other half had more than two years of secondary education. This pattern was inevitable as Zanla recruited from the peasantry and from secondary schools.

Recruits also included people with college and university education. I should remind you that before Independence, only 35% of Africans attended primary school, and most of them only to Grade 3 or Grade 5.

This pattern affected their ability to find work after Independence. While those who had secondary education could be absorbed into the civil and security forces, as well as into civilian jobs, those who were illiterate were not recruited. About 10 000 of the less-educated war veterans took the opportunity after Independence to gain literacy, numeracy, secondary education and job training. This was provided by two NGOs, the Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production (Zimfep) and the Zimbabwe Project. Both were funded by government, as well as donors.

This history should help us to understand both the achievements, as well as the post-Independence difficulties faced by war veterans. It is not okay to condemn them all with one careless wave of the hand.

Reality check

Muckraker mentions the 1997 fiasco which led former president Robert Mugabe to print billions of Zimbabwe dollars to pay war veterans grants and pension. At the time, war veterans were receiving 50 Zimbabwe dollars a month.
Many were pauperised, dressed in rags and reduced to beggars. The war veterans' demonstration was against the government ministers and other powerful people who had just awarded themselves hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe dollars in compensation for having participated in the liberation struggle.

The demonstrators, led by Chejerai Hitler Hunzvi, a former Zipra cadre, and joining together both Zanla and Zipra, had been demanding reasonable pensions and grants for two decades, but they were ignored by government. We have an example which is still being repeated that government paid no attention to the war veterans until they organised demonstrations, and threatened to remove Mugabe from office.

Then president Mugabe acted in panic, but it would be difficult to say that the whole government supported his move. Most of the cabinet and parliament had no knowledge of the decision. The then Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor refused to print the money, and was instantly sacked, to be replaced by a more pliable governor. We should question why and how government became so indifferent to the plight of the 50 000 freedom fighters: could this problem not have been solved peacefully?

Muckraker also accuses war veterans of utilising violence for political reasons. This, indeed, took place, but it would be wrong to accuse tens of thousands of freedom fighters for the crimes committed by a few penniless individuals who were employed by corrupt politicians to carry out these atrocities.
Deaf govt

In conclusion, let us not analyse the angry and senseless vitriol. Let us instead look at what's wrong with the political and bureaucratic system we inherited and how to put this right. It is important for political decision-making to be more democratic and rational: it was not okay for Mugabe and company to ignore the distress of the pauperised war veterans, just as it is not okay for the government of today to ignore the millions of destitute and unemployed youths.

We are not the first country in the world to face these problems. How did the United States treat the war veterans from the Second World War?

How did President Franklin Roosevelt solve the problem of millions of unemployed workers under the New Deal? Let's learn some good lessons from the Americans and others.

Fay Chung.

Load-shedding: G40 must refill Kariba Dam

IN the miserable existence that Zanu-PF has condemned the generality of Zimbabweans to, the party's army of lunatics has rather ridiculously and amusingly offered some much-needed comic relief amid the bedlam.

In the latest instalment of theatrics, bordering on sheer madness, one of Zanu-PF's loudest buffoons on social media, Jones Musara, tweeted from the comfort of foreign lands that the reason why Zimbabwe is enveloped in a blanket of darkness (taking the country back to dark ages) is that some mischievous members of the G40 cabal drained voluminous amounts of water from Kariba Dam, thereby diminishing the country's power generating capacity.

"The G40 cabal is also engineering economic sabotage and this includes attacks on state infrastructure such as Kariba dam where the water was pumped out in May by the G40 cabal to cause power shortages," Musara tweeted.

All in a flash, Musara would have us believe he had discovered, the root cause of Zimbabwe's power headache which has caused energy minister Fortune Chasi many sleepless nights.

Going by Musara's conspiracy theory, Zimbabwe should simply stop servicing its debts to Eskom of South Africa and Cahora Bassa of Mozambique and swiftly move in to arrest G40 saboteurs for transforming Zimbabwean homes, Illuminati-style, into miserable dungeons of darkness. In any case, when the military undertook "Operation Restore Legacy" in 2017, we were told that it was meant to remove criminals around deposed leader Robert Mugabe. Of course, serious people always knew that was a lie plagiarised from Nigerian coup manuals.

More importantly, Musara's advice could help solve, once and for all, Zimbabwe's worsening power woes. Bravo Comrade Musara! With advisers like you, Zimbabwe can rapidly evolve into an upper middle economy by 2030, in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa's phantasmagorical vision.

- zimbabwe independent


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