War vets want bank

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War veterans, including chairman Chris Mutsvangwa (left), at a meeting in Harare with President Robert Mugabe in April last year.

WAR veterans are pushing for the establishment of a bank to exclusively fund their projects, classifying themselves as a special interest group.

BRIDGET MANANAVIRE

Information obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent this week suggests that the restless former freedom fighters made proposals to government and the Zanu PF leadership late last year for the establishment of the specialised bank designed to cater for their financial requirements.

The bank, which would be in the mould of the recently established Women’s Empowerment Bank and the Youth Empowerment Bank, is aimed at funding their entrepreneurial projects as well as advancing loans for housing projects.

The ex-combatants have for years been clamouring for government’s financial assistance, saying they deserved to be pampered for their role in liberating Zimbabweans from colonial bondage in the 1970s.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya confirmed the developments in an interview with the Independent this week, but said the proposal had not found much favour from government which expressed concern about its capitalisation.

Already, the financially hamstrung government has faced strong criticism after it coughed up US$10 million to fund the women’s bank and a further US$12 million for the youth bank.

Government, Mahiya said, rather advised the easily irritable former guerrilla combatants that it would consider a special arrangement whereby their needs would be catered for under a facility to be created within the women’s bank.

“When we made our presentations that was the initial proposal to have the same facility as the women and the youth who have banks. However, it was said to be not viable. And another proposal was made to have a small window opened in the women’s bank for war veterans,” Mahiya said.

“We are a vulnerable group and would want to have our projects funded.

This suggestion was made in the last quarter of last year and nothing has happened yet. So we are going to be following it up when we open on January 15. Apart from being a spokesperson for war vets, I am also the deputy secretary for war vets in the politburo so these are processes of taking care of war veterans welfare,” he said.

The war veterans have since applied for land in various urban areas across the country and are hoping the establishment of the bank would help them access cheap loans to assist them build their homes.

Mahiya said they were still to get a response from government about the matter.

“The land issue is also still pending and we will also be making a follow up with the Lands ministry on that. I suppose it will be addressed as soon as the land audit has been completed,” he said.

However, Defence and War Veterans Affairs deputy minister Victor Matemadanda distanced himself from the developments when contacted by the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday.

“I know nothing about it. We have a government spokesperson who deals with government pronouncements,” Matemadanda said.

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