Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) was formed in 1990, led by former ex-combatants to advance the cause of the former freedom fighters who had participated in the Second Chimurenga which brought forth the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980. The main thrust of the organisation was to ensure that the former freedom fighters were well catered for and to facilitate their integration into the society. The formation of the organisation was hinged on the basis that the government was failing to cater for the welfare of the freedom fighters hence there was the need to create a group and or organisation to advance the cause of these people. Despite being registered as non-partisan, the ZNLWVA was alleged to be closely aligned to the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) carrying out ZANU PF's election campaigns since 2000 when it was led by the now late Chenjerai Hunzvi though it was formed and registered as non-partisan. In 1997, the war veterans were given hefty packages and this came about as a result of the efforts of the ZNLWVA. It was reported that this heralded the beginning of the Zimbabwean economic crisis which was mostly detrimental in 2008. The organisation was also alleged of committing heinous crimes ranging from murder, torture, rape etc. It participated massively during the Third Chimurenga as its members were at the fore front leading the masses to invade farms owned by the minority whites. In 2013, the organisation began to make new demands from the government and this was ignored.
Events Leading to the Formation of ZNLWVA
Many of the former freedom fighters who later became members of the ZNLWVA were not attested into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) in 1980. The government thus took the sole responsibility to cater for these people weaning them from their parent political parties and or military wings. During the Second Chimurenga, the ZANU PF and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) wrestled against the Rhodesian Forces separately with separate military wings, the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA)for the former and the Zimbabwe Revolutionary People's Party (ZIPRA) for the latter. By implication, those who became members of the ZNLWVA came from these two political parties. Members of the ZNLWVA could however be members on any political party on an individual basis and not the organisation as a whole.
In 1981, the government introduced the Demobilisation Directorate to ensure that these former freedom fighters who were not incorporated into the ZNA were not to languish in poverty. This was based on the fact that they lacked the skills and some of them had been deprived to go to school hence there was to be a mechanism to facilitate their re-integration into the society. The government's initiative was however blurred and this was attributed as being the impetus which led to the formation of the ZNLWVA which was more militant in its approaches.
Sets Backs Which Derailed the Formation of the ZNLWVA
The formation of the ZNLWVA was reported to have been marred by disagreements. In regard of this, the organisation could have been formed earlier than 1990. It has been reported that, the inception of the organisation was criticised by many individuals who were in the executive and or holding posts in the government and ZANU PF's politburo on the basis that they had participated in the liberation struggle during that time. It was stated that these individuals were fearing to be unmasked as not being ex-combatants, in the end being discredited. This was in a way meant to destabilise the state and to cause confusion in as far as those who were fearing to be discredited were concerned. In spite of this however, in 1990, the organisation was registered to function as a non-partisan entity and Charles Hungwe was appointed as the chairman.
The Organisation in Force
In 1992, the government enacted the War Veterans Act, something that was attributed as the first major step undertaken by the organisation. Contrary to this, it was reported that, the government enacted this Act as a means to contain the pressure from the organisation which was demanding more than what the government was willing and prepared to do. The Act stipulated that, a War Veterans Board was supposed to be created as well as a ministry which was fully committed to the cause of the war veterans. This only existed on paper and nothing positive came out.
The state also put into effect the War Victims Compensation Act which stipulated that all the freedoms fighter who participated in the liberation struggle from 23 December 1972 to 29 February 1980 were entitled to state benefits such as a monthly allowance, healthy facilities as well as educational facilities. This move was accompanied by the creation of the war veterans fund, whose funds were however abused by those who were in power. This led to the establishment of the Chidyausiku Commission led by Godfrey Chidyausiku. This was supposed to curb nail those that were implicated in abusing these funds meant to cater for the members of the ZNLWVA.
The war veterans were however not contended with what the government was dishing out and it was reported that many of members of the ZNLWVA never benefited from the funds allocated to the war veterans. Their so called misery pushed their leader Hunzvi in 1997 to pressurise the government to compensate the freedom fighters handsomely. It was reported that the ZNLWVA began to demonstrate in the streets and the police failed to contain them. The then president of the country, Robert Mugabe succumbed to the pressure of the ZNLWVA and the government gave each war veteran Z$50 000 which was equivalent to US$4 000 and promised to pay them a monthly allowance which was pegged at Z$200. In 2008, the monthly allowance was pegged at US$150.
It was reported that the government had not budget for that and this was said to have necessitated the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar which lead to the economic crisis which engulfed Zimbabwe from 2000, which reached an unprecedented scale in 2008.
In 2010, the organisation launched Operation Heal Our Wounds in which they were demanding to be compensated by the British. They also argued that the government was supposed to reveal their monthly allowances and to pay off the balances of 1997. The operation was launched on the basis that the war veterans in Zimbabwe were the least paid in the Southern African Development Community SADC region. They also drew their inspiration from the Mau Mau of Kenya. This was however brushed aside and ignored.
Aligning to ZANU PF
Although the ZNLWVA was registered as a non-partisan entity, the organisation was implicated as being more aligned to ZANU PF. It was reported that since 2000 the organisation has been used to organise and or campaign for ZANU PF in the process abusing human rights. During the July 2013 elections, the then president of the organisation Jabulani Sibanda was on the rampage of campaigning for ZANU PF, appealing to the people to vote for his party arguing that ZANU PF derive its policies from the understanding of God unlike the opposition parties who he accused of being on a relentless mission to take the country back to the colonisers. This shows that the organisation was no longer being non-partisan but it was now belonging to a certain political party as whole.
The organisation threatened to derail the elections in slated for July 2013 demanding mineral rights, reveal of its members monthly allowances as well as the incorporation of its members into the government. In line of this, it was argued that the organisation has been a pivotal instrumental tool to amass support of its party. The demands were however not met and the elections were held.
In April 2012, some members of the ZNLWVA passed a vote of no confidence to the then president Sibanda demanding his ouster. Those who were calling for the ouster of Sibanda were labelled as being rebels, mad cows and not credible members of the organisation. Self proclaimed secretary general of the organisation George Kativhu and his accomplice Monica Sikhosana were pin pointed as being influential in trying to organise the ouster of Sibanda. They were however unsuccessful.
- Wilfred Mhanda, The Role of War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Political and Economic Processes, "Solidarity Peace Trust", published:7 Apr 2011,retrieved:26 June 2014"
- Janet Shoko, Zimbabwe war veterans demand compensation, "The African Report", published:29 Feb 2013,retrieved:26 June 2014"
- Gerald Chateta, War vets demand compensation from Britain, "ZimEye", published:22 Apr 2010,retrieved:26 June 2014"
- , Zimbabwe: War Vets Rally Behind President, "The Zimbabwean Situation", published:12 Jul 2013,retrieved:26 June 2014"
- Nelson Sibanda, War veterans lash out at greedy politicians, "The Zimbabwean", published:20 Feb 2013,retrieved:26 June 2014"
- , War Veterans in full support of Jabulani Sibanda, "Bulawayo24 News", published:21 Jun 2012,retrieved:26 June 2014"