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War Veterans: Zanu PF Has Abandoned Us

Former freedom fighters captured at training camps in the liberation struggle of the 1970s. (File Photo)
As Zimbabweans mark the country’s 34th anniversary Friday, there are many former liberation fighters who were involved in the Second Chimurenga who are angry that their colleagues, now in office under Zanu PF, have failed to fulfill their promises in the new Zimbabwe.

At the same time, some female ex-combatants continue to call for compensation alleging sexual abuse by the so-called "chefs" during the struggle.

The majority of the country’s war veterans say they are wallowing in poverty despite sacrificing their lives to bring majority rule to the country. They add most of those now enjoying the fruits of independence are the ones who hardly contributed to the fight for democracy in the country.

Bernard Mudzimu whose Chimurenga name was Abasha, operated in the Hurungwe area of Mashonaland West. He is bitter that the "milk and honey" remains a pie in the sky for him and most of his colleagues.

Mudzimu said the monthly payment of $300, including the $175 war vet compensation and $125 pension from the army, is now too little to cater for his day to day survival.

Another war vet, Bigboy Mushipe, says although they appreciate the parceling of land by the government to some former freedom fighters, more needs to be done to support new farmers.

Mushipe says mostly top politicians and ministers in the government benefited from the farming equipment scheme through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The ex-combatants are also not happy that their children do not receive educational grants, adding the ones implemented earlier only covered primary level schooling. Most war vets claim they are finding it difficult to pay for secondary and university education for their children. But many in the country argue they are not alone.

Some war vets, who were fighting under Zapu led by the late Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo, accuse their counterparts from Zanu of discrimination, saying those who have largely benefited from state programs come from the Mashonaland regions.

But colleagues from Zanu say it is not true, charging the Zapu ex-combatants are to blame from removing themselves from others.

Some female ex-combatants on the other hand claim that most of them were sexually abused during the liberation struggle by "chefs". They want their former highly places colleagues now in government to compensate them.

They allege this was agreed on years back but charge the government and Zanu PF have reneged on that promise to help the women deal with their post-traumatic stress disorders.

A female ex-combatant, who only wanted to be identified as Chemhere, says most women fighters were abused by their male colleagues who later in life dumped them and married other people.

She says the majority of former female freedom fighters failed to get married because most ordinary people did not understand them or feared their past hence they remain in the cold.

In Mashonaland West, most war veterans have adopted a wait and see attitude as they allege their colleagues now in positions of power and authority have largely abandoned them.

It remains to be seen whether their grievances will one day get attention, especially as the government struggles with an imploding economy, unemployment and related issues.