HARARE – The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Vice President Nelson Chamisa clashed with Vice President, General (Retired) Constantino Chiwenga in Parliament on Wednesday over the issue of the welfare of liberation war veterans.
The issue started when Chamisa told the General that he should prioritise the issue of the welfare of war veterans. Chamisa wanted Chiwenga to commit to a timeline when the veterans would receive their pensions. Said Chamisa:
I know you have been spearheading a very important programme of restoring legacy. Can the legacy be restored in 37 years when we keep postponing and saying that we are still looking into the issue? Do you not think this has affected the image of Government, especially when considering that what you are talking about does not have any timeline as to when we can get a response and also as to when the war veterans can get their pensions?
There is nothing as important as the war veterans, so, we want that to be addressed. In our opinion, all other things can be suspended but the war veterans should be given a decent living.
The vice president retorted that the opposition should suspend going to America, referring to a trip undertaken by Chamisa, Tendai Biti, Dewah Mavhinga and Peter Godwin. The quartet testified before the United State Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee. Said Chiwenga:
I wish that all of you would have the same spirit in this august House and suspend going to America and other areas that you have been to.
….If we had worked together as a nation and not a divided people, we would not be talking about under development or poverty.
When asked to withdraw the first part of his statement, General Chiwenga escalated the situation saying:
Mr. Speaker Sir, the matter is withdrawn but an arrow shot is a fly which has gone.
However, Chamisa stood his ground and fired a salvo of his own saying:
The Vice President has withdrawn his statement but he has further added salt to injury when he said an arrow shot is a fly which is gone. This is a challenge because this is a man from the military who has spoken, but in the military set up, it might not mean anything because the Vice President is known as an esteemed and highly recognised Commander. Kana munhu arimugandanga mukuru achitaura zvakadai..
Chamisa later withdrew the term ‘gandaga’ although he argued that he used the term respectfully. Vice President Chiwenga also withdrew the arrow aspect of his previous contribution after the Speaker of Parliament noted that the language was intimidating and frightening. The general then said that the matter for war veterans and all pensioners in this country is receiving the attention it deserves.