Saturday, 11 June 2016

EX ZIPRA CADRES NOW SQUATTERS

MANY former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadres are living in abject poverty, with some staying in squatter-like settlements around Bulawayo.
Zipra was the military wing of PF Zapu led by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.

NewsDay Weekender established the sorry state of affairs during a visit to Ngozi Mine, now a garbage dumpsite which has become home to some of the Zipra cadres who now survive through picking plastic bottles, canes and other recyclable material for resale.

One of the former combatants, David Maduna (67), joined the liberation struggle in 1978 and trained in Angola before fighting in the Sipolilo (now Guruve) area in Mashonaland Central in 1979.

Life has not been rosy since 1980, he said, as he had been surviving through scrounging for food and selling odds and ends from the dumpsite.

“We survive on garbage. There is no other way and no one cares how we survive. We fought for this country, but we are suffering. I stay here with my second wife,” Maduna, whose first wife died during the government’s infamous Operation Murambatsvina, said.

“Since independence, I have never got anything meaningful to do or to earn a living. When the war veterans were given Z$50 000 in 1997 some of us only got Z$13 000 and we believe those in authority just abused our money,” Maduna said.

He said they were now “the poorest” of war veterans, including people that did not fought the war.
Maduna said he has been growing trees for the past four years, but the sad thing was that people were not buying the plants and that made life difficult.


A Zipra ex-political detainee Vusisizwe Khumalo (53) said at the height of the liberation struggle, he left his father’s cattle in the bush to join the struggle in 1977, but was caught by the colonial forces in Kamativi, who then sent him to Dete where he was further transferred to Hwange and later to Mzilikazi Ross Camp.

He said his detention was hell as he was tortured through electric shocks which rendered him impotent.

“They could connect my toes, armpits and privates to the shocker and wind their machine which produced electricity and this destroyed my productivity. I was released in 1979 and I got married several times without conceiving as I could not make women pregnant because of the torture,” Khumalo said.

He started staying at Ngozi Mine in 1985 and has been surviving on “garbage”.

“I survive through picking floor polish tins, bottles and aluminium material and selling them to the people,” Khumalo said.

“I am married, but I do not have children and I believe they castrated me at the height of the torture. I registered as an ex-detainee and I got $206 as pension this month.”

Khumalo said he had a temporary home at Ngozi Mine, where he gets his “rich pickings” for sale, but was building a house in Nkayi.

“I am working to get money to build a house and what I want is to have a borehole so that I have a garden to grow plants and vegetables for selling and sustain my family,” Khumalo said.
Khumalo said if the government would be willing to assist him, he want a grinding mill so that he is able to sustain his family.


Another former Zipra cadre, Pilate Ndebele, said it was painful that the ex-Zipra combatants were the most affected by poverty and neglect since independence and it appeared there was no political will to assist them.

He said at the time when government made Z$50 000 payouts to the war veterans, most of the ex-Zipra cadres had fled to South Africa when the government launched an onslaught against Zipra renegades branded “dissidents”.
“It is painful that the most affected former fighters are the Zipra as compared to their Zanla counterparts, Ndebele said.


“Most of them had fled the country and upon their return they were labelled bogus war veterans and lost out on the payouts.”

Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, in a recent address to Zipra ex-combatants in Jotsholo, spoke passionately about the politically and ethnically-inspired Gukurahundi killings of the early 1980s in which over 20 000 unarmed civilians were killed by the Korean-trained 5th Brigade. He said the cover for these killings was that there were “dissidents” who needed to be flushed out from the population and who were alleged to be connected to Nkomo and Zapu.

“You all know that this terror was only stopped when Nkomo agreed to the lopsided 1987 Unity Accord in which Zapu was swallowed into Zanu PF until we revived it in 2010,” he said.

Ngozi Mine is an old squatter camp that is known to have been established in the 1980s with the dwellers having been attracted by scavenging at the Richmond municipal dumpsite.

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