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 budgeted 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 and 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 slated for July 2013 demanding mineral rights, review 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 pinpointed as being influential in trying to organise the ouster of Sibanda. They were however unsuccessful.
War Vets Press Conference
In a meeting reportedly held in Harare on 16 November 2016, a press statement was released after, the ministry of Welfare Services, War Collaborators, Ex-political Detainees and Restrictees met with top management of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War veterans Association to deliberate and reach an understanding of war vets various issues concerning the welfare of war veterans, their perceptions on the state of party,their relationship with the party,leadership and structural issues and to map a way forward.
THE MEETING DISCUSSED ALL THE ISSUES IN A FRANK AND OPEN MANNER. DETAILS WILL BE REPORTED TO THE PRINCIPALS IN BOTH GOVERNMENT AND THE PARTY FOR THE NECESSARY DECISIONS TO BE TAKEN.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE MAIN POINTS THAT CAME TO LIGHT:
1. THE WAR VETERANS REAFFIRMED THEIR STATUS AS REVOLUTIONARIES, ASSERTING THEIR UNWAVERING LOYALTY TO ZIMBABWE, THE REVOLUTIONARY PARTY ZANU PF AND ITS ORIGINAL AND AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP.
2. THEY ASSERTED THAT THE CURRENT MANNER IN WHICH THE PARTY IS BEING RUN IS DRIVING THEM AWAY BECAUSE THEY SEE THE PARTY AS HAVING BEEN HIJACKED AWAY FROM THE ETHOS AND IDEALS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE. IN THIS REGARD, THEY EXPRESSED CLEARLY THAT IF THESE ISSUES ARE NOT ADDRESSED URGENTLY THE ENEMY’S PRONOUNCED INTENTIONS OF EFFECTING REGIME CHANGE FROM WITHIN WILL MANIFEST.
3. THEY SAW THE CURRENT RIFT BETWEEN THE PARTY AND THE WAR VETERANS AS BEING ORCHESTRATED FROM WITHIN THE PARTY BY ELEMENTS WHO ARE DETERMINED TO DESTROY THE PARTY FROM WITHIN AT THE BEHEST OF THE ARCHITECTS OF REGIME CHANGE.
4. THEY WENT FURTHER, ONCE AGAIN, TO UNEQUIVOCALLY DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM BOTH THE BLUE OCEAN DOCUMENT AND THE COMMUNIQUE OF 21 JULY 2016. IN THIS RESPECT, THEY DISMISSED ATTEMPTS TO ATTRIBUTE THE AUTHORSHIP AND DISTRIBUTION OF THESE DOCUMENTS TO THE ZNLWVA AS PART OF A BROADER STRATEGY TO DRIVE A WEDGE WITH THE WAR VETERANS WHO ARE THE HISTORICAL STALWARTS OF THE PARTY.
5. THE ZNLWVA ASSOCIATION DEMANDED FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL PARTY MEMBERS AND CADRES WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR REGARDLESS OF RANK.
6. THE MINISTRY RESPONDED BY REAFFIRMING ITS EXECUTIVE MANDATE TO ORGANISE AND UNIFY THE VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE. THE DESIRED END STATE BEING A UNIFIED, ORGANISED, RESPONSIBLY LED AND LOYAL FRATERNITY OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE WHICH IS IN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PARTY AND ITS LEADERSHIP FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WHOLE NATION AND PROSPERITY OF ALL ZIMBABWEANS.
7. THE CASCADING OF WAR VETERANS STRUCTURES WITHIN THE PARTY, THUS MAINSTREAMING THEM IN NATIONAL POLITICS, IS NOT TARGETED AT SUPPLANTING THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL LIBERATION WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION.
8. THE MEETING AGREED TO CONDEMN CORRUPTION IN ALL ITS FORMS AND, THEREFORE, TO POINT AT WHAT WAR VETERANS SEE AS A NEXUS BETWEEN CORRUPT ELEMENTS WITHIN THE PARTY AND THOSE WHO ARE DRIVING THEM OUT OF THE PARTY.9. DETAILS OF THE CONTENT AND OUTCOMES OF THIS IMPORTANT MEETING WILL BE COMMUNICATED TO RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.
Disapproval of G40
It was been reported in October 2017 that the war veterans are against factionalism believed to be led by the first lady Grace Mugabe which intend to oust vice president Emmerson MnangagwaTHE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provincial executives were reported to have declared a bare-knuckle fight against Zanu PF’s G40 officials pushing for an extraordinary congress to amend the party’s constitution to allow for the appointment of a female vice-president.
November 2017 Solidarity march
After Robert Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the military the war veterans through their leader Christopher Mutsvangwa organized a solidarity rally to support the military's action and used the same platform to reinstate all ZANU-PF members expelled by Robert Mugabe from 2014 to 2017 .
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- , War Veterans in full support of Jabulani Sibanda, "Bulawayo24 News", published:21 Jun 2012, retrieved:26 June 2014"
- "WAR VETS PRESS STATEMENT". The Herald. Novembert 16, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2017. Check date values in: