Mutsvangwa’s ministry in dire straits


Chris Mutsvangwa

IT appears Chris Mutsvangwa has a lot of fire-fighting to do these days.
His political career seems to be hanging by a thread as hawks in the ruling ZANU-PF party agitate for his expulsion on the basis that he disrespects party leadership.
The party’s Mashonaland West Province on Monday announced that it wanted him expelled from the party after he got involved in a fierce verbal altercation with national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.
He has also shown excessive spleen against presidential spokesman, George Charamba.
As if this was not enough, it has also emerged that Mutsvangwa is presiding over a ministry which is in dire straits.
A report submitted last week to the Central Committee — the governing party’s principal policy organ — exposed Mutsvangwa’s Ministry of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Political Detainees and Restrictees as virtually grounded because it does not have funds and other resources necessary to make it viable.
The Central Committee, in turn, transited the report to the party’s annual conference, which adopted it in Victoria Falls on Friday last week.
This was in line with a resolution passed at the ruling party’s sixth congress held in December last year where ZANU-PF ordered government ministries to report to the Central Committee of the party.
Mutsvangwa’s Ministry was created in December last year as President Robert Mugabe felt there was need for such an arrangement which would help attend to issues affecting those who fought for the country’s 1970s liberation war that ended with independence in 1980.
In the party, President Mugabe created the department of war veterans for the first time since independence.
The department is headed by Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, who is deputised by Mutsvangwa.
The adverse report said both the Ministry and the party department are seriously underfunded.
“The department did not receive any direct financial support from the party due to the challenges affecting the country. In government, support to the ministry was equally constrained,” reads part of the report.
The report says that the Ministry got a US$84 000 disbursement from Treasury for its operations, which is but a tiny fraction of the US$126 million start-up budget it was allocated in April this year.
According to the report, Mutsvangwa had to invoke powers of the Minister under the War Veterans Act to reserve a portion of the US$84 000 disbursement for other purposes not related to operational costs.
The ministry also has a credit balance of only US$42 000 in war veterans’ fund, while Treasury was yet to release US$2 million which it was supposed to avail by end of year.
The report further pointed out that the ministry inherited a huge school fees debt amounting to US$19 million, which has not been paid since September 2013.
Exactly a year after the ministry was set up, says the report, it is still to get a single vehicle, meaning its entire staff, including Mutsvangwa and his deputy, Tshinga Dube, are using their personal vehicles to do their jobs.
“The department and the ministry do not have a single vehicle, whether purchased or hired, on their account. Personnel at all levels, including the secretary and the minister, are having to use their personal vehicles in their official duties,” the report further reads.
There are also serious staffing problems at the ministry due to delays by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to hire employees.

Zimbabwe's Defence Minister Sydney Seker

Sydney Sekeramayi

“The ministry only received its approved establishment from the CSC during the last week of May 2015. This was based on the recommendation by the Ministry of Defence officials prior to the establishment of the ministry or assignment of the minister and his top management. As a result, in places, it lacks certain human resources elements that are crucial for the delivery of the ministry’s mandate,” reads the report to the Central Committee.
Meanwhile, war veterans are crying foul over the manner in which government and ZANU-PF is handling their welfare as stated in resolutions presented at the revolutionary party’s annual conference in Victoria Falls.
They claim that they are being marginalised from the socio-economic and political processes in the country.
“Veterans of the liberation struggle are finding it more and more difficult to participate in the country’s economy and politics. Quite often, they find themselves brazenly excluded from political processes, even within the party. They are also more and more and systematically being managed away from accessing Zimbabwe’s natural resources in a manner that would otherwise befit their contribution to the liberation of the country whereas preferential treatment is prescribed for them in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“These problems have left the majority of them feeling generally neglected, impoverished and marginalised economically, socially and politically. It is therefore hardly disputable that they now cast the most pathetic figure of abject poverty. Many are resorting to casual labour (maricho chaiwo ekumusha) in their neighbourhoods in order to sustain themselves,” reads the war veterans’ report.
“This translates into psychological trauma and bitterness which manifests in various threats to national security and political stability,” it further adds.
As a recommendation to the Central Committee, which in turn reported to the conference, war veterans want Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, to pay special attention to their plight.
“We recommend that conference directs the Minister of Finance to give due attention and respect to the alienable fundamental rights of the veterans of the liberation war and therefore to avail adequate financial and time sensitive budgetary allocations towards their statutory benefits,” one of the recommendations said.
Chinamasa was not immediately available for comment; he has previously stated that government was operating on a shoestring budget, which was hindering its capacity to meet its budgetary obligations.

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