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MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association (ZILIWACO), which held a conference in Gweru recently were disappointed after none of the heavyweights from ZANU-PF turned up for the event. A member of the presidium which is ZANU-PF’s top hierarchy consisting of party leader, President Robert Mugabe, his deputy Joice Mujuru and the national chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo had been expected to officially open the conference but none of them showed up.

ZILIWACO is an ally of the revolutionary party. The association’s national chairman, Pupurai Togarepi, claimed last week that ZANU-PF had assured them that Khaya-Moyo would officially open proceedings but were surprised that he did not pitch up.

“We wrote a letter to the presidency inviting them to our conference and we never got a response. However, we had hoped that someone in the presidium would come and at some point there was talk that the national chairman would come,” he said. Khaya-Moyo professed ignorance of the meeting.

“I am not aware there was a conference by war collaborators. I was never invited to such a meeting,” he said. Party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo also said the war collaborators did not formally invite the party to its congress.

“We were never invited to that congress. I am hearing it for the first time. I am from the Midlands and I do not know that there was a war collaborators congress which was taking place,” he said.

The 5 000-g gathering resolved at its conference to continue engaging government so that they could be paid gratuities for their participation in the liberation struggle. The resolution to be awarded gratuities comes at a time government is too cash strapped to fund its own programmes highlighted in its new five-year blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

The awarding of war veterans of Z$20 000 gratuities in 1997 precipitated the beginning of the country’s economic decline after government splashed Z$4 billion on the ex-combatants which was unbudgeted for. The payment resulted in the Zimbabwe dollar losing its value by 70 percent. The war veterans last year made fresh demands of US$20 000 each which its leader Jabulani Sibanda said was the balance owed to them after government had made initial payments in 1997.

Source : Financial Gazette