HARARE - Firebrand former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda has lashed President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party for allegedly failing to look after the welfare of former liberation war fighters.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Sibanda said the failure by the government to pay school fees for the children of war veterans was clear testimony that the nonagenarian and the ruling party did not care about the welfare of ex-combatants and their families.
“They do not care about us. It is sickening that we are not getting money for our children’s fees. When I was leading the war veterans, I raised these issues but what was clear was that they did not care about us.
“Some of the war veterans are disabled and if government doesn’t pay for their children, who will? Some like us were lucky to have found employment but what then happens to those who are unemployed?” Sibanda fumed.
“Look at our country, it is very difficult for war veterans to see the president and raise their concerns. When I was still the leader of war veterans, it was easier for me to see leaders of other countries than Mugabe. That is the attitude they have towards war veterans.
“The issues that I wanted to raise to the President were constitutional matters because war veterans and their welfare are embodied in the Constitution.
“So you see, there is no regard for the Constitution, it’s a document meant to be kept in a drawer. All problems war veterans are facing are because of the bad attitude of the ruling party and its leadership. If we go to Parliament you will see that MPs like (Priscilla) Misihairabwi–Mushonga are the ones raising issues to do with war veterans. Who is Misihairabwi–Mushonga? An opposition MP.
“Where are the MPs from the ruling party? They do not care about us although we sacrificed our lives for them to be in power today,” Sibanda added.
He also pointed out that it had been significant that Mugabe had allegedly failed to thank war veterans after they secured his and Zanu PF’s disputed 2013 poll victory.
“Let me tell you, as war veterans, we worked very hard after Mugabe came out third in the 2008 elections with 43 percent. (Morgan) Tsvangirai was second with 47 percent and the winner was the Constitution with 51 percent.
“After that, every member of the association contributed money to go around the country for four years and 11 months campaigning for Zanu PF. We worked very hard that they retain power and we were never recognised after what we did.
“After securing them a victory still we did not have a minister of war veterans. A minister was only appointed after my executive was booted out in Masvingo last year,” Sibanda said.
Contacted for comment, War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa referred the Daily News to his permanent secretary, Brigadier General Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, to get answers about delayed school fees for the children of war veterans, but he was not available.