120 000 more join war vets gravy train
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OVER 120 000 ex-combatants, including ex-detainees, have been successfully vetted to receive monthly pay-outs from government for their role during the country’s 1970s liberation war.
Government has been vetting and registering war collaborators to ensure their eligibility for monthly pensions and other related benefits.
Statistics released by the Defence and War Veterans ministry show that government rejected applications from 11 330 aspirants classified as war collaborators, non-combatant cadres and detainees after failing to meet a legal requirement that one should have been 16 years by December 31, 1979 for consideration.
“A total of 207 103 applicants registered for vetting in 2021 and 150 434 were vetted in 2022, leaving a balance of 56 669,” Defence and War Veterans minister Oppah Muchinguri said in a statement.
“Statistically, this means that 72% of veterans of all categories were vetted, implying that another 28% remained outstanding. The major problem with this analysis is that there are some veterans who did not register in 2021, but turned up for the vetting exercise. Similarly, there are other veterans who registered, but did not turn up for vetting.”
Names of the approved war veterans will be gazetted for 30 days, before they are accredited as liberation struggle veterans.
War veterans enjoy benefits such as monthly allowances, payment of fees for their children and medical aid, among others.
“To this end, the second republic will continue to support ongoing efforts by Veterans Investment Corporation to augment resources availed through the fiscus and hopes that as the economy continues to improve, more benefits will be availed,” Muchinguri said.
“The financial resources for the vetting exercise were limited, hence despite two extensions to the vetting period, the ministry could not ascertain the credentials of every aspiring applicant by the time the programme ended.”
In 1997, angry war veterans pressured the late former President Robert Mugabe to pay them $50 000 gratuities and other benefits for their role in the liberation struggle.
But war collaborators and non-combatant cadres were left out.
War veterans have been a vital cog in Zanu PF campaigns during past elections. _*NewsDay*_