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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 01 JUNE 2021 VOL 47 NO 54
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 1st June, 2021
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. ZEMURA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Mine is a point of privilege. I once stood here complaining about the potholes on the Victoria Falls - Hwange Road. I complained that the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development should take urgent notice of the bad road because it represents the image of our country as it is also used by tourists from all over the world.
I want to thank him because he took a step and repaired the road. The road was repaired from Bulawayo to Hwange and to Victoria Falls. There are no potholes. I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the response and work done. I think he will also do that to other roads that lead to other countries like South Africa, Mozambique like the road to Nyamapanda which is very bad. I hope he will do the same. I want to thank him very much.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I rise on a point of privilege Madam Speaker Ma’am. Forgive me for taking off my mask; I need to take a breath of fresh air.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, you are supposed to be wearing your mask, please put on your mask.
Hon. Nduna wore back his mask.
HON. NDUNA: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I thank you and good afternoon. I stand here to applaud the Minister of Health and Child Care, who is also the Vice President of the country for having gazetted and published in the daily papers that there is going to be an ambulance at every tollgate. Meaning, of the 27 or 29 tollgates that we have, we are going to have 27 accident victim stabilisation centres.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, it is in response to your report of the Eighth Parliament which came from the Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development, which I chaired Madam Speaker Ma’am. I want to applaud him for responding positively to that report and also go further to say if he can get the money similarly along the same lines as Statutory Instrument 45 of 2005, which mandates third party insurance to remit 12.5% to Traffic Safety Council for traffic awareness. If he can establish a statutory instrument, pretty much along the same lines that can take 5% from third party insurance to run those accident victim stabilisation centres so that 70% of our people that are involved in road carnage, who were dying because they have not gone to definitive health care institutions can now be attended to expeditiously, efficiently and effectively Madam Speaker Ma’am. I also ask on the same vein, for an audit on the monies that are going to Traffic Safety Council, the 12.5% from third party insurance. I thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am with all my heart.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Nduna. We will convey the message.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MUTAMBISI: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 17 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 17 has been disposed of.
HON. NDUNA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I have a point of order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order Hon. Mushoriwa?
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Speaker, last month I did rise on the same thing to ask whether this Parliament, especially the National Assembly – is Business of the House Committee actually operating? The current set up Madam Speaker, is that it is now difficult for Members of Parliament to plan according to the Order Paper because the caucuses are now happening within this august House. We are just wondering whether the Business of the House is now defunct. It is even worse Madam Speaker if you consider the size of the Order Paper and the Government business on the Order Paper. We wonder whether we no longer have Ministers who are prepared to move those motions so that Members who have actually prepared to come and debate these Bills can be given the opportunity. Madam Speaker, do we still have that Business of the House Committee or things can just happen haphazard and an order which is at number 20 or 70 can become number one on a given day.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mushoriwa, Business of the House Committee is still there and it still operates. It is only that Ministers at the moment are attending Cabinet meetings. That is why we can choose from the Order Paper which motions to debate.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE, HOME AFFAIRS AND SECURITY SERVICES ON THE PETITION FROM THE ZIMBABWE PEOPLE’S REVOLUTIONARY ARMY (ZPRA) VETERANS
HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD) MAYIHLOME: I move the motion standing in my name;
That this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the petition from the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) Veterans appealing to Parliament to amend the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12], (S. C. 11, 2021).
Ordered in Terms of Standing Order No. 17:
At the commencement of every session, there shall be as many committees to be designated according to government portfolios as the Standing Rules and Orders Committee may deem fit.
- It shall be the function of such committees to examine expenditure administration and policy of Government departments and other matters falling under their jurisdictions as Parliament may, by resolution determine;
- The members of such committees shall be appointed by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee, from one or both Houses of Parliament, and such appointments shall take into account the expressed interests or expertise of the Members and Senators and the political and gender composition of Parliament;
iii. Each select committee shall be known by the portfolio determined for it by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee.
Terms of Reference of Portfolio Committees S.O 20
Subject to these Standing Orders a Portfolio Committee shall:
- Consider and deal with all Bills and Statutory Instruments or other matters which are referred to it by or under a resolution of the House or by the Speaker;
- Consider or deal with an appropriation or money bill or any aspect of an appropriation or money bill referred to it by these Standing Orders or by or under resolution of this House;
iii. Monitor, investigate, inquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative programme, budget, rationalisation, policy formulation or any other matter it may consider relevant of the government department falling within the category of affairs assigned to it, and may for that purpose consult and liaise with such a department;
- Consider or deal with all international treaties, conventions and agreements relevant to it, which are from time to time negotiated, entered into or agreed upon.
Pursuant to Section 149 of the Constitution, the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services received a petition from Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) Veterans appealing to Parliament to amend the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) in order to address some specific issues which were not satisfactorily covered in the Act. The petitioners prayer was that Parliament should amend the aforementioned Act, particularly the section on interpretation, to provide clear definitions of ‘non-combatant cadre’ and ‘transit camp.’ They also raised other issues which were not expressly stated in the petition which also required attention. By clearly defining the cited terms and addressing the additional gaps noted, the Act would become all-inclusive and thereby living no veteran of the liberation struggle behind in all government programmes.
2.0 Objective of the Enquiry
The broad objective of the enquiry was to enable Committee Members to fully establish and appreciate the petitioners concerns and come up with informed recommendations based on thorough investigations.
The Committees undertook the following activities as part of the inquiry:
3.1 It gathered oral evidence from the Permanent Secretary for Defence and War Veterans Affairs to establish whether the issues raised by the petitioners were not covered in the Act;
3.2 It also gathered oral evidence from War Veterans League in order to get an insight into the issues raised in the petition;
3.3 It received oral evidence from the petitioners in order to get first-hand information on specific issues that needed to be addressed;
3.4 It analysed written submissions from the petitioners (ZPRA Veterans), the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs and War Veterans League and;
3.5 It considered recommendations made in its report on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill [H.B. 15, 2019] against the Act itself.
4.0 Committee’s Findings
4.1 ZPRA Veterans
Representatives of ZPRA Veterans briefed the Committee about the ZPRA petition which sought to address two specific issues of concern noted in the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12] while also highlighting some gaps which were not expressly stated in the petition. They claimed that the Act was not precise in its definition of some terms such as ‘non-combatant cadre’ and ‘transit camps.
The veterans were dissatisfied by the Act’s definitions of ‘non-combatant cadres’ and ‘Transit camps.’
4.1.1 Non-Combatant Cadre
The ‘non-combatant cadre’ is defined in the Act as any person accredited as such in terms of this Act who, having crossed any of Zimbabwe’s borders for purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of ZANLA or ZIPRA forces but due to circumstances beyond his or her control did not get military training and remained in the transit camp in Mozambique and Zambia until 29th November, 1979;
ZPRA Veterans opposed the given interpretation of non-combatant cadre on the grounds that it excluded several other countries where transit camps were established. They argued that the definition failed to recognise non-combatant cadres who were stationed at other transit camps other than Zambia and Mozambique. In light of that omission, they submitted an additional list of transit camps which were allegedly left out as follows:
Botswana, Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Russia (SSR), Sweden, Netherlands
Romania, German Democratic Republic
They proposed that ‘non-combatant cadre’ should be defined as ‘Any person accredited as such in terms of this Act who, having crossed any of Zimbabwe’s borders for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of ZANLA or ZPRA forces, but due to circumstances beyond his or her control, did not get military training and remained in the transit camp in Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania and other countries until 29 November 1979.'
4.1.2 Transit Camp
In the Act, ‘transit camp’ refers to ‘… any camp for the temporary accommodation of any persons who crossed Zimbabwe’s borders whether or not for purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of the ZANLA or ZIPRA forces.’
The petitioners argued that not everyone who went outside Zimbabwe’s borders did so to join the struggle for independence. In their view, some had their own ulterior motives opposed to the protracted struggle for the liberation of the people. For that reason, those who crossed Zimbabwe’s borders in pursuit of personal glory could not fit in the category of non-combatant cadres. Therefore, they saw the Act’s definition as a ploy to accommodate persons who may not have supported the struggle in any way while outside the country.
They therefore opted for ‘transit camp’ to be defined as ‘Any camp for the temporary accommodation of any persons who crossed Zimbabwe’s borders for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of the ZANLA or ZPRA forces.’
4.1.3 Additional concerns not expressly stated in the Petition
The petitioners further informed the Committee that there were several other gaps in the Act which were not highlighted in the petition yet they also required attention.
Examples of areas to be reviewed included the following:
v The Act is not explicit in defining powers of the Chief Director, especially in relation to the administration of schemes;
v The Act does not specify the extent to which vetting officers can act as Commissioner of Oath;
v Benefits are for both the living and deceased cadres (the latter benefitting posthumously through their spouses or dependants)
v The Act is not expressly clear on the criteria of awarding of benefits to the four categories of veterans of the liberation struggle. This applies to all the benefits provided for in the Act;
v Concerns were raised on the powers of the Minister. For instance, in Section 12 (3) it is stated that ‘the Minister may, within the resources available prescribe a gratuity, payable once only to a veteran of the liberation struggle.’ The argument proffered was that the clause gave the Minister the discretion to either pay or cease to pay such gratuity as would be required by an eligible beneficiary,
v The Act should have a clause clearly stating that the 1997 grant must be the yardstick for payment of gratuities to those who did not benefit during that time;
v Customs and excise duty exemptions on importation of vehicles and equipment for veterans of the liberation struggle;
v Economic issues such as awarding of grant or concessions, mining claims and empowerment drive benefits must be an automatic entitlement to veterans of the liberation struggle upon demand.
4.2 War Veterans League
The War Veterans League concurred with the ZPRA Veterans on the call to amend the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12].
4.2.1 Definition of Non-Combatant Cadre
On the definition of on ‘non-combatant cadre’, the War Veterans League disagreed with the ZPRA veterans petitioners on the inclusion of the phrase ‘in other countries.’ They argued that not every country listed in the petition had transit camps. They picked out Tanzania and Angola for example, as having military training camps and not transit camps. They proclaimed that only Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana had recognisable transit camps. To that end, they asserted that the petitioners erred on including Tanzania and Angola under transit camps.
4.2.2 Transit Camp
The War Veterans League acknowledged and concurred with the petitioners on the definition of ‘transit camp’, particularly on the rationale for being in the camp. Like their counterparts, the War Veterans League opposed part of the definition of the Act which reads as follows:
‘…whether or not for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle…’
They asserted that transit camps were only established for and inhabited by cadres who left their homes in anticipation of joining the struggle in one way or the other. While it is indisputable that some may not have had the opportunity to undergo military training for reasons beyond their control, it is that sacrificial motive that justified their qualification as non-combatant cadres. Those who had other reasons other than participating in the liberation struggle would not qualify. To that end, they argued that the Act’s definition left room for manipulation and would allow undeserving opportunists to benefit from it.
4.3 Other Issues raised but not expressly stated in the ZPRA Veterans Petition
The Committee was briefed by the War Veterans League that it was against international best practice for war collaborators and ex-detainees to be called war veterans. The War Veterans League maintained that it was demeaning on the part of ‘war veterans’ to be classified under the same banner as the aforesaid groups of veterans of the liberation struggle. In as much as their contribution to the struggle could not be ignored, the War Veterans League queried the rationale for giving war veterans recognition or status to war collaborators and ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees. To them, referring to all under the umbrella of ‘Veterans of the Liberation Struggle’ had the potential of undermining the distinct sacrifice of those who underwent military training and physically confronted the enemy.
The War Veterans League further informed the Committee that the Act was not explicit on how benefits would be awarded to the different categories of the veterans of the liberation struggle. It was argued that it was unfair practice to award the same benefits to the four categories yet their degree of sacrifice in the struggle was irrefutably different. It was emphasized that the ‘war veteran’ was always the main actor in the protracted war leading to the political emancipation of Zimbabwe. Thus, the ‘war veteran’ was regarded more senior than others. It was strongly stressed that this undertaking should unequivocally be pronounced in the Act in as much as it should also translate to the benefits that may accrue to them.
In addition, the War Veterans League asserted that in line with the concept of seniority and the role played by each category during the liberation struggle, the Act should clearly spell out the financial benefit percentage that should be accorded to war veterans, non-combatant cadres, war collaborators and ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees in relation to allowances. They said the clause should be clear in the Act contrary to being addressed by a statutory instrument, in their view, that could be manipulated by responsible authorities or Ministers.
They further posited that the term ‘may’ should be replaced by ‘shall’ as stated in the Committee’s report on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill [H.B 15, 2019]. They argued that using the term ‘may’ does not compel the responsible authority to act in the manner as would be desirable to the beneficiaries but rather give the Minister the discretion to act otherwise.
The War Veterans League informed the Committee that access to medical aid should not be limited to government medical institutions. Rather, beneficiaries should access medical care from both private and public hospitals as long as they were able to get the best possible medical assistance offered in those institutions.
4.3.1 Composition of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board
The War Veterans League further disputed the Minister’s prerogative to appoint the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board. They argued that veterans of the liberation struggle should be accorded the power to select and recommend to the board all members, including the Chairperson of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board, through their provincial and district structures in order to ensure equal representation of all provinces.
4.3.2 Office of the Liberation Struggle, Chief Director thereof and Staff.
The Committee was informed that the powers given to the Chief Director by the Act must be trimmed, especially concerning the administration of schemes established in terms of the Act. They suggested that administration of schemes should be done by provincial boards which were recommended in terms of the principle of devolution.
4.3.3 Composition of the Vetting Committee
Members of the War Veterans League alluded to the fact that the establishment of the Vetting Committee should take into consideration the principle of devolution. They therefore maintained that vetting offices should be decentralised to the country`s ten provinces. It was pointed out that the Act did not define the criteria for establishing the Vetting Office and who should qualify for appointment into that office. It was, therefore, recommended that all the categories constituting the veterans of the liberation struggle should be represented in the vetting office and should be drawn from senior ZANLA and ZPRA ex-fighters in order to safeguard transparency. To that end, they recommended that the sub-title ‘Powers of Vetting Officers’ on Part II, Clause 8 of the Act should be expanded to read as ‘Appointment, Powers and Duties of Vetting Officers.’
4.3.4 Stand-alone Ministry
The War Veterans League further posited that veterans of the liberation struggle were appealing for the establishment of a stand-alone Ministry that would administer all the programmes and issues affecting veterans of the liberation struggle. They maintained that the Ministry would dedicate its effort and resources towards addressing the concerns of the war veterans. They reiterated that a stand-alone Ministry would effectively address the specific challenges faced by veterans of the liberation struggle.
4.3.5 Medals for Veterans of the Liberation Struggle
The Committee was informed that it was pertinent for veterans of the liberation to be recognised and honoured in the same manner as Chiefs through the provision of medals. It was also submitted that veterans of the liberation struggle should be accorded due respect at all important national gatherings and there was need for the Act to have a clause on that.
5.0 Submission from the Permanent Secretary - Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs
The Permanent Secretary assured the Committee that the issues raised by ZPRA Veterans in their petition could be addressed administratively. He indicated that redefinition of ‘non-combatant cadre’ and ‘transit camp’ called for further engagement with Cabinet and did not necessarily require amending the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [ Chapter 17:12].
In addition, the Ministry indicated that the following issues raised in relation to the Act could be handled administratively without necessarily amending the Act:
- The need to change the title in Part 2, Clause 8 of the Act from ‘Powers of Vetting Officers’ to ‘Appointment, Powers and Duties of the Vetting Committee.’
- The proposal for Vetting Officers to be drawn from ex-commanders, chiefs or headmen;
- The request for equal treatment in terms of funeral assistance;
- The request to be exempted from paying land tax, vehicle import duty and tollgate fees;
- The request to be given bravery medals as is the case with Chiefs;
- The request for the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Fund to be decentralised which the Ministry indicated that it was already underway.
6.0 Analysis of the Findings
6.1 The Committee established that there was concurrence by both the petitioners and the War Veterans League on the need to redefine the terms ‘non-combatant cadres’ and ‘transit camp.’
6.2 The Committee noted that the words ‘…whether or not for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle…’included in the definition of ‘transit camp’ in the Act, indeed left room for manipulation by bogus elements who would claim to be veterans of the liberation struggle when in fact their reasons for crossing Zimbabwe’s borders may have had nothing to do with the liberation struggle. It was therefore, agreed that the definition proffered by the petitioners be adopted as it was watertight and specific.
6.3 The Committee discovered that some countries cited by the petitioners as having transit camps instead had military training camps. Such countries as Tanzania and Angola were arguably used as military training camps and not necessarily transit camps.
On the other hand, the Committee also noted that there were some people who were sent to Eastern Europe, Cuba and Asia for specialised administration training or specialist skills who should be considered for veterans of the liberation struggle status.
6.4 The Committee observed that the definition of non-combatant cadre was expected to cover in specific terms, countries which had identifiable and well-established transit camps. A typical example is that of Botswana which was left out in the Act but stakeholders acknowledged the presence of well-established transit camps such as those at Selibe Pikwe, Dukwe and Francistown in that country.
6.5 The Committee also observed that the petitioners were aggrieved about some provisions in other clauses in the Act which were not cited in their petition. These included the clause on medical aid benefits where they claimed that beneficiaries should access medical care from both private and public institutions locally and abroad as opposed to being restricted to government hospitals only. It was however, considered by the Committee that the provision cited in the Act was premised on the fact that civil servants and government officials accessed medical care from public institutions and would resort to private service providers only when the former could not provide a service required by the beneficiary at any one particular moment.
6.6 The Committee noted that the petitioners were concerned about how funeral assistance benefits payable in respect of a deceased veteran of the liberation struggle was going to be administered. The same concern applied to the awarding of hero status on deceased veterans of the liberation struggle as there was persistent appeal for all to be considered as national heroes and heroines. The Committee however, observed that the position cited in the Act was reasonably acceptable since funeral assistance was given to all equally regardless of the deceased’s social standing. The Committee also noted that determination of hero status and associated benefits was however covered by a different piece of legislation and thus, could not expressly be covered by the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act.
6.7 The Committee observed with concern that some additional issues raised were addressed by the Act. An example was the claim that adult veterans of the liberation struggle were not explicitly covered under the educational scheme or benefit. It was noted that access to the education benefit was addressed by Sections 12 (a) (ii) and 16 (b) of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act. The Committee however, emphasized the need to ensure the fulfillment of the administrative obligation of availing adequate financial resources on time by the responsible Ministry.
6.8 While recognising the Act’s progressive provisions on the land question, the Committee observed that veterans of the liberation struggle maintained that it was high time they were exempted from paying land tax as a gesture of appreciation for their indisputable sacrifice. Noting that some benefits such as exemptions from tollgate fees and import duty could be dealt with administratively, they emphatically called for a clause in the Act that clearly exempted them from paying land tax as opposed to leaving it to the discretion of administrators.
6.9 Another area of concern observed by the Committee involved the use of ‘may’ especially on matters regarding awarding of benefits. The Committee noted that petitioners preferred substituting ‘may’ with either ‘shall’ or ‘must’, the latter being stronger words that compelled the responsible authorities to act in a manner that did not disadvantage veterans of the liberation struggle in one way or the other.
6.10 The Committee discovered that the six-month period for incarceration of ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees provided for by the Act was opposed by the petitioners and the War Veterans League. The petitioners still argued that the given period would inevitably and unfairly live out a lot of cadres who were at the mess of the enemy’s brutality for periods far less than the provided period. Hence, they maintained that a 90-day period was reasonably acceptable.
6.11 The Committee noted that veterans of the liberation struggle grieved over the 16-year cut off point for determining who qualified as a war collaborator. As was the case with other provisions of a similar nature, the cut off age had the potential of unfairly living out eligible cadres who assisted guerrillas in several ways during the protracted armed struggle. It was observed that they maintained the age of 14 years as fairly reasonable even though they argued that girls as young as 12 years were in some cases recruited as active informants during the liberation struggle.
6.12 The Committee observed that the petitioners were concerned about the Act’s failure to expressly state that all Vetting Officers were supposed to be veterans of the liberation struggle, particularly those who held positions of authority such as ex-commanders, chiefs or headmen. While recognising the Ministry’s undertaking that specifying qualifications for vetting officers is an administrative issue, the Committee noted that the petitioners stood by their submission that it had to be explicitly stated in the Act.
6.13 The Committee noted that the power of appointing the Chairperson of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board is vested in the President of Zimbabwe. However, it was suggested that the Act had to categorically emphasize that chairmanship had to be rotated between ZANLA and ZPRA cadres.
6.14 The Committee noted the call for a clause in the Act on parliamentary seats specifically reserved for veterans of the liberation struggle. The argument proffered was that the legacy of the struggle for independence and the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle was better understood and represented by one of their own.
6.15 The Committee noted that the call for recognition, honour and respect of veterans of the liberation struggle was constitutional (as enshrined on Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment [No.20] 2013). The Committee observed that the provision of honorary medals was long overdue. The liberation war fighters were concerned about the delay in fulfilling that obligation by the responsible authorities. While acknowledging that the matter was purely administrative, it was stressed that the matter be treated with the urgency it deserved as most beneficiaries were dying before receiving their medals.
By 30 September 2021, the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs should amend the Act to provide for the following:
- The definition of ‘non-combatant cadre’ should read as ‘any person accredited as such in terms of this Act who, having crossed any of Zimbabwe’s borders for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of ZANLA or ZPRA forces, but due to circumstances beyond his or her control, did not get military training and remained in the transit camp (specifically a holding camp) in Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia until 29 November 1979;’
- The definition of ‘transit camp’ should read as ‘any camp for the temporary accommodation of any persons who crossed Zimbabwe’s borders for the purposes of participating in the liberation struggle as a member of the ZANLA or ZPRA forces;’
iii. The definition of ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees should read as ‘any person who after the 1st January, 1959, was imprisoned, detained, or restricted in Zimbabwe for a period of at least 90 days, or for two or more periods amounting to not less than 90 days, for political activity in connection with the bringing about of Zimbabwe’s independence on the 18th April, 1980;’
- The definition of war collaborator should read as ‘any person who had at least attained the age of 14 years by the 31st December, 1979 and who in the period between 1975 until the 29th February, 1980, was consistently and persistently closely linked with the operations of the war veterans …;’
- Clause 12 (3) should be read as ‘the Minister shall, within the resources available and after negotiations with veterans of the liberation struggle, prescribe a gratuity, payable once only, to a veteran of the liberation struggle.’
- Section 3, Clause 2 (a) should read as ‘…a war veteran, appointed on a rotational basis from the ZANLA and ZPRA camps, by the Minister after consultation with the President, who shall be the Chairperson of the Board…;’
vii. Engage representative associations of veterans of the liberation struggle to unpack, giving timelines on how and when they intend to implement those administrative obligations made in response to the issues raised by the affected stakeholders;
viii. All veterans of the liberation struggle should receive bravery medals such as those given to Chiefs.
- The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should amend the Constitution to provide for the veterans of the liberation struggle quota in the membership of Parliament by January 2022.
While acknowledging the various progressive provisions of the Veterans of the liberation Struggle Act [Chapter 17:12], the Committee implores the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs to consider the petitioners’ observations. Indeed, the Committee appreciates the Ministry’s undertaking that most of the concerns raised could be resolved administratively without necessarily amending the Act and hence, it is hoped that the implementation should be expedited in order to fulfill those administrative obligations.
Informed by these pertinent observations, I now commend this report for consideration by the august House. I thank you.
+HON. S. K. MGUNI: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to speak on this petition which is important and seeks to address the plight of the war veterans. When analysing this good report delivered by the Hon. Chairperson, I congratulate him. My wish is that the report be adopted as it would assist many war veterans. I usually meet war veterans and they show that they are distressed by not being taken care of.
I also noted that there are areas that were left out, particularly issue pertaining to non-combatant cadres. It is easy to make a follow up on these individuals because there are records of the names of people who contributed in the struggle kept by the Ministry of Social Welfare. These people were assisted by the United Nations on their repatriation and records are available such that follow ups can be made. Therefore, it is easy to separate the non-combatant cadres and individuals that want to benefit where they did not contribute. The fact that they returned without undergoing training was not their fault. They are supposed to receive the benefits because they sacrificed their lives by virtue of leaving this country to go to countries that were mentioned by Hon. Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome. My wish is that, through His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, who is a listening President, these people could be taken care of.
I also noted a challenge on vetting officers. When we were going around with the Committee, people complained that some of these vetting officers are abusing their offices. The war veterans who are supposed to benefit from the programme are made to fail the vetting and those people that offer bribes to the vetting officers are the ones that get shortlisted, the genuine ones being turned back. On these grounds, they suggested a term of two years for the vetting officers and that they should rotate. The officers should come from both military wings and be from all the provinces. I also noted that there is a board which was commissioned by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans. This board should be composed of ZANLA and ZPRA and be from all provinces. This is a pertinent appeal that I implore Government to adopt. We have the devolution and the fruits of devolution are that people from all provinces should be catered for.
What I also want to add is the issue of medals and identification cards which show that you are a war veteran. The war veterans are requesting to be issued with identification cards which show that they are war veterans. The ones which they were given during vetting some have been misplaced and others are worn out. These cards were made of plastic; there is no office that has been set to replace them or to issue these cards. So, their appeal was that the cards be produced and also there be an office that deals with the issuing of the cards.
Another point I want to add in on Heroes Acre, the Heroes Acres are maintained by the Museums but the National Heroes Acre is the only one that is being maintained. War veterans are saying the Provincial Heroes Acres where some war veterans are buried are embarrassing. The Heroes Acres are only visited when a member is laid to rest, after that no-one ever goes there to check on their condition. There are requesting that these Heroes Acres be placed under the relevant ministry so that they get maintained. In some of the Heroes Acres the fence has been stolen because there is no one guarding the premises. There are no toilets, neither is there potable water. I would like to thank the Hon. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to speak. I thank you.
*HON. DZUMA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity regarding the motion. That is why I was not debating much before diving into this important debate. I am saying this Mr. Speaker Sir, because I am one of the war veterans that are still alive. This was quite a big task. A lot of our war veterans sacrificed their education and their future going to Mozambique, Zambia and other countries because they were passionate about their country. They did this and worked together with other war veterans to liberate Zimbabwe. There was no food or incentives, be it food and clothing, but these were people who sacrificed their lives sleeping in bushes and risky areas. They did not have access to clean water but they used traditional methods of water purification. They consumed water which was contaminated at times with worms. So the water which seemed to be clean was not necessarily clean because it was contaminated.
My desire is that what is obtaining at the National Heroe’s Acre should be replicated in every province and my desire is that all these places should be maintained by the National Museums and Monuments and council authorities should continue availing land for heroes acres in different areas so that when stories are being told of Zimbabwe’s heroes the young would know what our national heroes went through because in some of these places the only people who visit are those who drive. Some young people might grow up not knowing their history.
Mr. Speaker Sir, this is a very good thing that happened, especially working on this Constitution because when we look at History we discover that those who went to the liberation struggle were young people and these young people went through several challenges crossing borders and where they were they had no clothes and there were no blankets. The challenge that these young people faced is that the situation at the borders did not permit movement. At the refugee camps, the young people were forced to sleep in the open without any blankets because of logistical challenges. Those who were fortunate used sacks as blankets. This means that in the event that camps were bombed, everyone was vulnerable because bombs do not select who to target.
Most people survived by chance not by design. I remember a personal experience when I was very thin. You could even count my ribs by merely looking at me. I did not know that at one point I would be big like a kitchen. My desire is that if funds were available in Zimbabwe, Government would fund another vetting exercise so that those who did not benefit from the previous disbursement could benefit this time and those who benefited also need some additional benefits as a result of the contribution and the sacrifices they made during the liberation struggle.
My desire is that we expedite this debate so that it goes to the upper House and eventually to the Executive so that by end of the year, war veterans receive their gratuities. I am saying this because I appreciate their sacrifices and I would like to implore the authorities to commence vetting exercise which will determine those who participated in the struggle, those who were at the camps but did not receive any military training and war collaborators.
Without wasting time, let me point out that the plight of war veterans is not exclusive to one political party but it cuts across the political divide. I thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the ZPRA War Veterans for having brought this petition to this august House and also thank the Committee on Defence through its competent Chairperson who has brought in the report.
My view pertaining to this petition and also to the report that the Committee has brought to this august House is that it talks a lot on issues that have not been addressed. We are in 2021, which is 41 years after independence. It is actually sad that we have a lot of gaps pertaining to the war veterans that fought the liberation war.
I met one woman who went to war and she was an author, her name was Freedom Nyamubaya. She is late and was awarded a provincial hero status. In her writings, she bemoaned the very issues that the ZPRA War Veterans are crying for. Freedom Nyamubaya mentioned that a number of people who claim today to have participated and done well during the liberation war, some of them did not do anything but only took advantage and became the loudest. They took positions of authority after the independence and yet the real fighters, some of them up to date, have not benefited from the liberation war.
Freedom used to say that and I concur with her view that “in my view, I would have wanted a situation where the people that fought for the liberation of this country are regarded as freedom fighters not as war veterans”. The term war veteran, in my view, tends to say a person who has participated in other wars be it DRC or Mozambique but there should be a distinction to these people so that they are highly honoured and celebrated as our freedom fighters.
Mr. Speaker Sir, my only problem with our Committee on Defence is that the petitioner requested Parliament to amend the War Veterans Act. I am also sure the wisdom upon which the request by ZPRA War Veterans was subjected to the War Veterans League scrutiny. In my view, the reasoning and the findings of the Committee tend to dovetail with the comments that were coming from the league. In my view, there is an attempt to belittle the view from the ZPRA War Veterans. We know the history of this country that a number of ZPRA War Veterans have not benefited compared to the ZANLA ones primarily because of the history that happened after 1980.
However, I was going to be happier if the Committee had come with a draft Bill. Remember, Parliament has started a programme and a month or two; there was a virtual training on Members Private Bills. I believe that when a petition comes, rather than to say ‘Ministry of Defence we are giving you up to 30 September to amend’ - the problem is that the Executive may decide, in its own wisdom, not to prioritise the work. This is where I would have loved a situation where our committees are empowered, working with Counsel to Parliament, to come with the amendment to the Bill so that we have amendments to this particular Bill from the Portfolio Committee. The Committee was supposed to be reporting what they got both from the ZPRA War Veterans and the League of War Veterans.
This issue of making recommendations does not do justice to the prayer that the petitioners are crying for. The truth of the matter is that when the ZPRA War Veterans get this report, they will simply feel that Parliament should have done more. I actually want to urge you Mr. Speaker Sir, that I think in future, when we get such petitions, we need to empower Parliamentary Committees to go beyond the issue of making recommendations but work with Counsel to Parliament and produce the relevant amendments that they have seen to make sense rather than to pile work on the Ministry which may have other priorities.
Lastly, I just want to talk pertaining to the issue of provincial heroes, the district heroes. Mr. Speaker, if you go to certain District and Provincial Heroes Acres, the state of those places leaves a lot to be desired.
Secondly, there is another problem that we have seen in this country. There are people that went to war that deserve to have been buried at district or provincial heroes acres. I know for instance in Harare, some people that we knew went to war are actually buried haphazardly as they were denied places even at district or provincial level, but guess what, Soul Jah Love was buried at the Provincial Heroes Acre. If you have a mechanism where you leave the decision of who is going to be a national, provincial or district hero to a selective group of people, they will make decisions based on their feelings.
The system should actually be very clear and I think what the ZIPRA war veterans are actually asking for is the truth. We need a clear system to simply say no, when Hon. Mushoriwa passes on he is going straight to the National, Provincial or District Heroes Acre. We do not want to have a situation that tomorrow what then happens is that you find the vetting committee has people that have no liberation credentials. What happens if you then find the next President who may not have inclination towards the liberation history? I think we need the last few that are remaining of the freedom fighters, to actually decide and determine the way to go.
Mr. Speaker, it is wrong in my view as I sit down to simply pay lip-service to these freedom fighters. I believe that the freedom fighters deserve more than what this country is giving them. I thank you.
Mr. Speaker having recognised Hon. Major General (Rtd) Khumalo as Hon. S. S. Khumalo
HON. MAJOR GENERAL (RTD) KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to-
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. In view of this debate, may this be the first day in Parliament that we respect war veterans who have been leading this country from a general point of view, to be referred to as Hon. General Retired Khumalo. May it be a way of doing so because it is a position that is earned through liberating this country but we also call professors who have never liberated this country Hon. Prof. Ncube? For him to be a professor, it is the generals that made him a professor. So, this has got to be common practice in this Parliament from today that the generals who sacrificed for this country must be called Hon. Retired General Khumalo, Hon. Retired Brigadier General Mayihlome and Hon. Retired General Late Chief Air Marshall P. Shiri. That is what they deserve and that is what it is. That shows we respect them and we are here because of them. That is my intervention.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): Thank you Hon. Mliswa but the problem is that I just follow the names as they appear on the virtual platform but what you are saying is true.
HON. T. MLISWA: Even for the Speaker who is not here, that must be the way he must now refer to them. That is all I am saying. It must start from today.
HON. MAJOR GENERAL (RTD) KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to this very important topic. The topic here raised that we amend the War Veterans Act on certain issues albeit being promulgated in a very few months’ time left a lot of gaps within the Act to raise a question as to whether really we were serious about what we were doing for the war veterans because surely, if we are going to make an amendment to an Act that is not even six months old, that question arises as to whether we were fair to the topic about war veterans, albeit its recognition in the Constitution of the land that war veterans must be accorded all the respect that go with the sacrifice and duties that they carried out to liberate the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Mr. Speaker, yes it required some definition about ‘non-combatant cadre and transit camp’ which I believe in the report, the Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services clearly spelt out what needed to be corrected and how it needed to be corrected. I may not need to go over that again but let me touch on certain things that were discussed as we debated on this petition.
The first one being - while the war veterans have got a constitutional recognition, do we really recognise them? As Hon. Mliswa has been saying here that when we get to Parliament we are not recognised through our titles as members who participated in the liberation and also members who participated in the defence and protection of what we gained in the liberation struggle, albeit we retired and then decided that we were going to continue with the work for our country in this august House and asked people to vote for us and they brought us here. You will realise that it is perhaps by omission that people address me with my title or even General Mayihlome. We have a serious problem on this thing just by way of addressing each other accurately or correctly, whichever applies. Hon. Speaker Sir, I think we need to emphasise in the Act on top of what the ZIPRA War Veterans have said – we need to emphasise the need to strictly apply the provisions of the Constitution because it is the supreme law of the land.
The other thing that I want to bring to your attention: now that we are veterans of the liberation struggle and being veterans of the liberation struggle in the Act and Constitution; we are categories as war veterans, the war collaborators, the prisoners and those that went through detention. These categories must be specifically specified so that we do not have confusion as to who is who. Yes, we are veterans of the liberation through participation in the liberation struggle but the participation on its own has got its own categories, because there are those that were prepared for combat and conducted combat or the liberation of the country.
There are those that supported the war veterans and fighters; there are those that were imprisoned for participating in national politics to achieve the liberation of our country but these have got their own categories. These categories can never be grouped together to mean one thing. They will always remain as categories of veterans of the liberation struggle. This thing must always carry those categories for it to always remain distinctly clear to the people of Zimbabwe and internationally. This will remain clear without ambiguity or anything of that nature.
When we made the report on the Act for the War Veterans, we mentioned that war veterans were not supposed to pay land tax, because war veterans fought for that land. I think this phrase was missed when the Act was promulgated and passed as an Act for the war veterans because we are saying the war veterans went to war and when they participated in the war, they gained very little benefit other than gaining independence for our country. Yes, the war veterans were given a pension which to date is being given, but is that really matching the level of participation that was there.
We may argue that perhaps it is either too late but we can never be too late on an issue where a war veteran who really fought the Rhodesian administration for them to let go our country from colonisation and then we say we are now liberated and then we say the war veterans are supposed to pay the land tax. I think it is a bit not rewarding enough for the effort put by the war veteran because remember Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst I do not have details about how the colonisers partitioned and rewarded each other of the land in Zimbabwe and Southern Rhodesia then, it is the veterans of the Second World War and the other wars that were fought by Europe that came here and were rewarded by giving them land and things like that.
I shudder to believe that it is correct that those people were given land, got the farms and everything as a reward by the Queen of England that these are our soldiers and therefore they benefit in Zimbabwe – give them the land, support and everything. That is why they built so much dominant empires in our country. That is what made them fight us for that long – we take them out and we cannot even benefit from whatever piece of land one might have been given as part of the Zimbabwean population and we say we pay tax – where do we then get the benefit of jumping and running around these bushes fighting the white man for us to get this thing. I think that thing needs to be recognised by this Hon. august House that we definitely have somewhere where it is very clear that the war veterans and not the veterans of the liberation struggle – I am sorry to say so but the war veteran himself; the person who took a weapon and fought the Boer and got him out of this country must get that benefit of not paying land tax.
There is also this issue of the 20% that was said to be put aside as provision for war veterans – the resources that seek to empower our population. The 20% must be given to the war veterans. I should say that the veterans of the liberation struggle, because it is proper that if we conducted an audit today, to say we gave people land, stands or whatever – can we do an audit and find out that from all those provisions, is the 20% for the war veterans being recognised or is it there in the first place? I doubt very much we will get it there because the war veteran today is somebody who is taken – I shudder to think; but the war veteran that is out there at home and not here where we are but at home – I have heard people asking them ‘kuti makaenderei kuhondo kwacho?’ That alone tells you about the story of how war veterans find themselves being looked down upon by everyone and it becomes a very disturbing issue to see veterans of the liberation struggle in that type of situation.
There is the issue of medication for veterans of the liberation struggle. The hospitals are supposed to provide them with medication, but that is not happening. Those who are lucky enough to have that opportunity to get the medication are those ones that have got connections. I am sorry to say so but that is what happens. They have got connections and therefore, they can go and get treated. Perhaps they get the little that is available for veterans of t he liberation struggle to get medical provisions that they require. The veterans of the liberation struggle today are what I consider on the upper age of society, in the late 50s, into 60s and what have you. Once you get to that age, you tend to have more ailments, therefore needing more attention medically for you to go through the provision of life given to you by God. Therefore, you need more care et cetera but do the veterans of the liberation struggle get that more care? I will tell you Mr. Speaker Sir that they get very little because most of them have left the urban life and are in the rural communities. In those rural communities, it is survival of the fittest because the veterans will fall ill but do not have money to transport themselves to medical facilities. I think the care or medical provision that we make for our veterans of the liberation struggle must and need to be improved so that they get adequate medical attention. I suppose Mr. Speaker Sir, the board is there and we cannot comment much about what the board for the veterans of the liberation struggle has done but I would urge that the board and the chief director conscientise themselves that the veterans of the liberation struggle are diverse people and therefore, they have to take care of them along that diversity so that they become more involved in programmes that seek to assist veterans of the liberation struggle. With those few words Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to this debate. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Section 84 of our Constitution is very clear in terms of the rights of the veterans of the liberation struggle. The most critical one is Section 84 (c) which talks about those who were imprisoned, detained or restricted for political reasons during the liberation struggle are entitled to due recognition for their contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe and to suitable welfare such as pension and access to basic health care. This is the real issue here that from a constitutional point of view, what has the country done to ensure that this is in place.
First of all, since 1980 to date, the current leadership of this country has been war veterans. The question that I must ask is, are they true war veterans when they know that others are suffering, when they know that there were people who sacrificed for this country? It goes without saying that you choose your own when it comes to issues of recognition, issues of empowerment. How come the leadership of this country, since 1980, has never chosen their own, not only that, have never done anything for their own. Our generation and other generations to come know nothing about war veterans and now they want us to be hated by the war veterans who are living today. I was not in the struggle. I do not know which commander is there and so forth but they have neglected their own and shame on the leadership of this country. Shame on them! Today the war veterans are the most disregarded human beings in this country. Some of them are mentally traumatised. When you see them wanting something, murikutsvageyi? Exactly what Hon. Rtd. Khumalo said that, makaendera chii kuhondo? Why did you go to the struggle? Hon. Rtd. General Mayihlome must be thanked for coming up with this petition report. After the promulgation of the Act, let us be very clear, administrators administer the Act. Let them not lie to you that if you do not change it, we will administer, they do not have the power to do that. The role of administrators is to administer the Act not to change the Act. They are not being true and sincere when they are saying that we will deal with it administratively, yet administratively they have failed to comply with the Constitution, let alone the Act.
How come we are at this point when pretty clearly what the petitioners are saying is what you have left out? We discussed it and it is not in the Act. Why is it not in the Act? They cannot now begin and reason that the administrators will deal with it. When the administrators are administering, they administer the Act. It is important without any negotiations that whatever was left out is brought in accordingly and the administrators act according to what the Act says. This has gone on for too long. It is a deliberate attempt to continuously frustrate the veterans of the struggle. There are people sitting in these offices and their job is to frustrate them and they know when they are frustrated, these are disciplined cadres who do not argue. In so doing, because they are disciplined cadres, at times they are not the best people to run the affairs because there is hierarchy. Some of them are compromised because they belong to political parties which is your choice and that political party, again if you do not comply with it, you are expelled.
We now need to define the war veterans of the struggle. It is not talking of a veteran of MDC, a veteran of ZANU PF, a veteran of ZAPU, it is talking about a veteran of the struggle and the struggle was about this country. I have learnt that they are easily intimidated because they are disciplined to a point that the leadership which we saw politically in the country, some of them never did anything in the struggle but they took advantage of them because they were young. In so doing, they looked for people who were educated to come and assist them sincerely and genuinely but Mr. Speaker Sir, those who were given the chance did not do that.
A good example is that of the former late President R. G. Mugabe. He never went and shot anybody, never carried a gun but they believe that for this struggle to move forward, we need political leaders with intelligence who will be able to carry out the mandate according to the founding principles of the struggle and the ideology which they believed in, that was never done. We gave it time, 37 years and today it is 41 years and still nothing has happened. How then can we trust the current leadership for ensuring that it happens? The generals that you see today were part of the struggle and they know each other. With a lot happening, we cannot ignore the events of life – death. If I was a commander and I trained X, if I die, who will say X was a commander? Now, we have the problem that most people were trained by certain commanders and cannot now say this commander because the commander is no more. Why? because of a delayed process of the vetting taking time and so forth. At the end of the day, the real war veteran is not out there. The fake war veteran is the one who is out there. He gets to a meeting, try to be pompous, tells everybody to keep quite but true war veterans remain humble. They are full of humility. Now we have a problem of fake war veterans who are there who are talking too much and even castigating other war veterans. We have war veterans who castigate the likes of Mai Mujuru, saying that she never put a plane down and she was never part of the struggle when he himself never even held a gun. Today, he tells us because he is educated and has got all this vocabulary to castigate people who liberated this country. We cannot allow a situation like that. This is what we have.
We have got ZPRA and ZANU. The unity accord has not been implemented accordingly. The reason is that those in power are taking advantage because the likes of the late Joshua Nkomo, the late Dumiso Dabengwa, the late Msika and the late John Nkomo are not there who were the leaders of this. So, there is a vacuum on who represents ZPRA. ZPRA is being treated unfairly. Where are the properties which were taken from ZPRA? If we are talking about unity, where are the properties which were taken from ZPRA? Long ago, we said they must be given back to ZPRA and ZPRA is always neglected. Give them their properties. Let them look after themselves. I say so because my father was in ZAPU in Zambia and I know what he did. Retired General Mutinhiri will tell you about the role my father played. Comrade S. K. Moyo will tell you about the role my father played. Our house was nearly bombarded but today when it comes to the eating of the cake, others have a bigger piece and others have less.
Today, ZPRA does not want to talk, it is quiet. It is about time that the leadership of this country knows that they will not go anywhere with a unity which is not sincere. They must now look back and say what they are doing, is it what they agreed with the late Joshua Nkomo? Was it part of the agreement or there are certain things which have been left out? The tears of the people bring a nation to suffer. We are Africans, we have got a tradition. Do not think by people being quiet, they are not speaking. They speak inside and a dangerous person is the one who keeps things inside and does not speak. I am better, I speak. I do not carry anything but those who do not speak, certainly are praying to a God and God listens to those who are quiet. Prayer is not about speaking to God loudly. Prayer is about being quiet too, talking to God. They are hurting and this needs to be addressed. There is need to be sincere in the way things are being done.
The War Veterans Association is there. There is the Veterans League. It is the biggest war that you will see. Where does the association and the league fit in. Now, we have got War Veterans League under ZANU PF. The War Veterans Association is independent. War veterans are free to join any party they want and all bodies must be independent because they are the trustees of this country. When you become a trustee, you have to be independent. Now that we have the association and the War Veterans League, who listens to who? The War Veterans League is under ZANU PF. Is it ZANU PF that went and fought this war on its own? What about those war veterans who have decided not to be involved in political parties? They can now not benefit because they do not belong to a party. That cannot be allowed – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – That is negligence and discrimination on its own. If Comrade Zuma decided to be at home at his village as a war veteran and does not belong to a party, let us recognise him as the Constitution says that we need to give them due recognition for their welfare, health care and so forth. We have a problem here; they cannot be used as a campaigning too for ruling parties.
They were used to liberate this country so that we are free, independent and as a result, we saw it in the Second Republic when it was ushered in. It was the war veterans. I remember myself, everybody contributed. We contributed money and a lot of things where we are here with Comrade Matemadanda and Comrade Mahiya and nobody will be there but today the people benefiting were never even part of it. When the President came back from where he had gone, the very same war veterans who ushered in the new era were now being chased away that you cannot be here. I saw that myself. Not only that, they are constantly used because they are disciplined. Being disciplined does not mean that you must take advantage of them. That is what is critical at the end of the day.
We have a situation where the elected Chairman of the War Veterans’ Association was Jabulani Sibanda. A lot happened and he was out. He was ZAPU – ZPRA. I thought he would be replaced by ZPRA. By then, Comrade Mutsvangwa went in from ZANU. Ah, ah, ah, can we replace a proportional representation woman who is no longer there by putting a man there. It goes back to a woman. So, what belongs to ZPRA must go back to ZPRA. Now we have this situation. These are the underlying problems which are there, are not being discussed and I want to open up today so that the country knows that there is no unity that we talk about. We are short changed in many ways and for as long as that unity is not there, there will never be prosperity for Zimbabwe.
The petition left out a critical issue. When are those bodies going to be exhumed? How can you today be in a country when you know your dear comrades who were buried all over are not back in their villages? They have not been declared dead and we are quiet and then we say that it is sanctions. It is a curse because we cannot do our own things. You cannot allow bodies of people who liberated this country to be out there and we are still quiet but we have got money to buy cars for chiefs. Who liberated this country? It was the war veterans working with the chiefs. The chiefs are enjoying cars yet the veterans of the struggle have no cars; 35000 are the only ones left. Can we not build 35000 houses for them? Can we not give them 35000 medical cards? Can we not be able to exempt them from paying taxes like Hon. Rtd. Khumalo said?
If we go to the Tengwe block, that facility was for people who fought for the British, who were given farms in the Tengwe block in Hurungwe. It was specifically for people who were rewarded by the British Government to come and be given land in Zimbabwe yet we are finding it difficult to give land to those who took land from them. When you go to Hurungwe, you say no the ZPRA commanders must not be getting land. I remember Ambassador General Nicholas Dube, I had to tell him, you are not going anywhere. They told him you are Ndebele, you cannot be here and I reminded them that it is the Ndebeles who liberated Hurungwe; we will not be seeing Shonas if we talk about that. So, let him have his piece because he fought for it. He deserves to be here.
Even during the Land Reform Programme, there was discrimination which was never part of the struggle. I am highlighting issues of discrimination which have been critical in us not making any leeway pertaining to these issues. You want to talk about the provincial boards. Now the President, to my mind, must not be involved in the politics of the war veterans. He must be independent. He is the father of the nation.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you are left with five minutes.
HON. T. MLISWA: I am sure somebody will add some time because I think I am doing well from here. To me, the President himself must not be part of the War Veterans Association because he is the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, meaning he is a father for everyone. That being the case, there is independence. Again, let them choose their own people whom they want; whom they know and let them remove them too. It is important that, that system is in place. That is the reason why today some of the provincial war veterans and some of the national war veterans are not recognised as veterans of the struggle. There can be veterans of the economy and veterans of music but they are not veterans of the struggle. We must be able to separate that. A veteran of music, a veteran of economics and a veteran of the struggle – why putting a veteran of music where veterans of the struggle are? You are now mixing water and oil, has it ever happened? It has never happened. Already, you have totally lost their respect in terms of who they are.
These issues of provincial and national heroes, the Comrades must sit down in these structures and apply a bottom-top approach and say this is the person that we want. Most of the members of politburo of ZANU PF never went to the struggle. They are cheer leaders and so, how do they comment on somebody who they never saw in the struggle and they were never seen in the struggle? How does that happen? This is how flawed the system is. A party must not choose who the national heroes are. This board which is put in place must also be given the responsibility of choosing the war veterans provincially and nationally. That is how it should be like because you know who is who at the end of the day. The danger of you saying the President must be voted a President in 30 years who was never a war veteran, you are doing this now for political expediency so that you please the President by saying he is the patron. What about when the President – whoever, with God’s ways is no longer a war veteran, what will you do? Let us have laws which ensure that we are in this game for a long time not for a short time.
There is no party that is in power all its life. In Zambia you saw what happened with UNIPand so forth. We must be able to separate offices from this. The President cannot be involved in the controversy of this. The former President R. G. Mugabe, was the person of the war veterans and may I ask, what did he do? May His Soul rest in peace, but may I ask what did he do? Today you are complaining that he used us to be violent, this and that. Today people do not want to see you. He is rested in peace and you are walking in poverty. It is important that we are able to understand that.
The other issue is that we now must have the 20% which they have been given, it must not only be at national. War veterans must go even at district level and have your 20%. Provincial levy have a 20% nationally as well. It must be down there. There is not much time left for you and if I were you, I would speed up. There was an outcry when they demanded the US$50 0000. Honestly, people attacked them for something which was nothing. They had not been looked after for a long time and what is US$50 000.00, given to people who have sacrificed their life? Is there a price for life, there is no price for life. In Parliament I agree.
We should have them here and they must sit down and name who should be in Parliament. The same way with the disabled, youth and the same way we have gone with the women. Amongst the women in Parliament, how many are war veterans, there are none and so, who pushes their agenda? If we talk about the war veterans agenda being pushed, it is only war veterans who can push the agenda. When people are disabled, it is only those who are disabled who can push the agenda of the disabled. You and I are able bodied and times we forget. Let us have people who are in terms of that.
I am not happy that the petitioner and the Act does not consider the spirit mediums why? We had Mbuya Nehanda commemoration the other day but in the Constitution of the country, they are not there yet we say she led the struggle spiritually. How many spirit mediums are in the country and what have you done to sustain that whole thing? They are not happy too. I can tell you that I have gone to a few areas and I visited Njelele and I went there with war veterans to understand what is happening. Those shrines are not well kept but if we believe they are the very same shrine that led us at independence, why are you forgetting them today what did they want – they just wanted to be recognised. They want have their brew once a year and that is it.
There is too much hypocrisy and these events which are done of Mbuya Nehanda are not done properly. You saw the chiefs going to the President – who is a chief to a spirit medium? A chief is a subordinate to a spirit medium. How many spirit mediums were there? There as not even an African brew. Hwahwa hwechibhoi kubika doro mopembera – vakabvisa bhutsu wani mumatare, vamwe tsvimbo vanga vasina, ndicho chivanhu chacho here ichocho? What culture is that? And then after that they are told to go to HICC and collect cars. They did not come to commemorate Mbuya Nehanda. The spirit mediums must be given their space to do what they need to do. That is why this country is cursed. We are not following the tradition and the norms that we should.
These are issues which I am talking about in terms of the petitioners which are missing which I am equally saying that even today, the ZAPU position of the VP – why do the ZIPRA cadres not sit down and choose who they want to be their VP? That is what it is. Joshua Nkomo was undoubtedly the father of the nation and the leader of Zapu...
HON. TOFFA: Hon. Speaker Sir, I move that his time be increased for another 5 minutes.
HON. J. CHIDAKWA: I second.
HON. T. MLISWA: We know the situation where you have these transit camps - the issue of people who did not participate in the struggle but those transit camps, just being there was a risk. Some were bombarded and so how can we not recognise them today? Once you sacrifice and you are in a transit camp, already, it is something under the radar and it is targeted. When they want to destroy, they go in it. It goes without saying that this is something that has got to be done without even any doubt. Once an Act is in place, it becomes difficult to change it. That is why I keep on repeating that the administrators cannot come and tell us that this is what is happening.
The issue of the Vice President vacancy, is a ZAPU position and some ZAPU members and Zipra members are there – why are they not sitting down to nominate who they want and give it to the President can make the final decision. The process has been done but the prerogative lies with the President for a Vice President to be appointed on a ZAPU ticket and you have not spoken to them and they have not sat down to agree who it is, the prerogative and final say is for the President but consultation would have been made with interested parties. This is how bad it has been, that they are totally ignored even in choosing who their father must be – musarapavana. In our culture it is never like that. You give a chance for people to choose musarapavana ndiani and the process continues and so forth. That is already a problem on its own.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to talk about the private hospitals. It is really painful – when a person has what they have done, all they want is their land, inputs, education for their children and a better health care. This is not there. Some of them are even ashamed to call them war veterans when they go to these hospitals because the country seems to hate them and yet they are hated because of the decision the leadership has made. The leadership has put them in a very compromising position, in a position where they cannot be proud to be veterans of the struggle. It will take a lot and as time is passing by, they are becoming more irrelevant as a result of leadership delaying the processes which are constitutional, the processes which they know very well.
So, if the late President R. G. Mugabe with the power that he had could not do it, we are now looking forward to His Excellency E. D. Mnagangwa to now start and finish off because it never started anyway. This must start and finish off properly and he must understand that it is in the interest of the country from a constitutional point of view, nothing else but from a constitutional point of view. I am happy that the chiefs get cars but I would now like to see war veterans getting better health, pensions and education for their kids.
The farms that they own are being downsized right now by the current Minister of Lands, yet he is leaving the white farmers because they are being productive. The white farmers are productive because they are being given money, yet he goes to downsize farms for war veterans yet they have no inputs. You want them to be part of the Presidential Input Scheme where they are queuing up – aaah, let us not do that to them. Why do you allow them with the recognition that they deserve to queue up for one bag of 10kgs of mbeu or 50kgs of D and Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser? They must have their own scheme where they are given what they want. The tractors that are coming through, a portion must go to the war veterans and then we know that we are recognising according to the Constitution, the liberators of this struggle and so forth.
Again, I am glad that the people who have been vetting, as has been alluded to, must be given a timeframe. A lot of them have died, just four years ago, we were talking about 50 000 war veterans and now we are down to 35 000 and the figure does not grow by the way – the figure does not grow. It is growing less and less and when it gets less and less, resources must be made available. What I did not like about the petition was ‘resources permitting’. No, that must be out – never allow anything to read ‘resources permitting’, because resources will never permit. So in the Act, I would like that to be dealt with, the same way you said ‘shall’ must be replaced with ‘must’. Resources permitting is not proper. They must provide this not with resources permitting – that must be out because they always hide behind that yet the diamonds are there, the gold is there, the money is there and all the Ministers say, there are no resources permitting, yet we have these Pension Funds that are there like NSSA.
We see all these scandals, the biggest looting company ever which every Minister who goes there, instead of dealing with labour issues, they are dealing with looting at NSSA. It seems that most of the Ministers go to loot there yet the NSSA money could be used to build houses for the war veterans through the National Building Society (NBS) that they have. It is just a Government organ and then Government pays for these war veterans in the housing that would have been produced. Here is $400 million housing NSSA again, why does the NSSA money not go towards us helping the war veterans?
Mr. Speaker Sir, I really want to thank you for giving me this opportunity but to also buttress the point that we need to be sincere about this. We can no longer have war veterans talking here, most of them would like to say a lot but they cannot because of their nature of being disciplined. You saw Hon. Nduna, for the first time spoke …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): Order, order! Hon. Member, your time again has expired.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir and I am hoping that there will be great contributions from Hon. Shamu who really started the 21st February Movement and was instrumental in the war veterans. He is one man that I wish we could be talking to. He respects the war veterans and is one of them. So try and find people who are true and sincere to be able to do that but lastly, you will never achieve what you want to achieve for your people as long as you remain timid. The bravery you showed in liberating this country must be the bravery you show in pushing for your friends and families who are no longer here today. I thank you – [(v)AN HON. MEMBER: Hon. Speaker, we are also here!]
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): Say I am also there. We are seeing you there. Hon. Member, I just have one person on virtual and I am going to give him the chance to contribute.
*HON. CHIDAKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this important debate. Hon. Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome’s report touched a lot on the issue of liberation war heroes. There are issues that have not been fixed and given my age, some of the war veterans are my relatives and parents.
When I hear the story of liberation war heroes, I see brave men and women, dedication and self denial of people giving up their lives for the liberation of this country. This actually gave me an opportunity to learn the direction that our country came from and where it is headed. Hon. Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome’s report highlights existing gaps that gave rise to this petition. Looking at the response that is coming from the Ministry, it is actually clear that there is nothing that is very difficult to find. I think that the issue that is there is that we need to fix the issue of war veterans, if we agree that these people are important, then why is it taking too long for us to resolve their issues?
As was alluded to by Hon. Mliswa, we do not see the kind gestures that those in leadership are displaying. They are not displaying any sincerity at all. It is true that some people are not heroes of the liberation struggle and they never participated or did anything of significance hence the reason they derail or delay in taking action on these matters. Some of the war veterans of the liberation struggle are elderly and some of the reports that are written in English will be difficult for them to comprehend due to their age. It is my humble request that whenever we deal with reports coming from the liberation war heroes, we consider their age and also the issue of language. We should use language that is easy for them to comprehend as liberation war heroes.
Hon. Speaker, I would like to touch also on the issue that was alluded to by Hon. Mayihlome to say, war veterans of the liberation struggle should be honoured with an artefact that shows that they went to war or participated in the liberation war struggle. I mentioned that my father and grandfather are liberation war heroes but when we are seated back in the rural areas with my grandfather, no one takes him seriously when he relates what happened during the war. There is nothing that can convince people that he even participated in the liberation struggle and that issue troubles us as a people when we look at the lives of these war veterans. Is there not something that we can do for them to prove and convince others that this individual participated in the liberation war? This is to say that they should be respected wherever they go, a symbol that shows that this particular individual participated in the liberation war. What they did is very important.
Hon. Speaker, I would also want to talk on the issue of transit camps to say who is supposed to be compensated. There are those who did nothing during the liberation struggle. My own point of view is that everyone who participated and everyone who left home should go and be compensated. That particular individual is a hero, that person left everything in their position, gave up their lives and joined the liberation struggle. Indeed, they are people who are getting paid when in actual fact they never participated in the liberation struggle.
These people are enjoying their lives whilst they never did anything. They never experienced any hardships, never contributed to anything yet they are living large this day. Hon. Speaker, I would like to say these same war veterans did not benefit from the Land Programme. Looking closely at this situation on how the war veterans are living, this is Government property, even when Government thinks of constructing a dam at a place where these people are staying, there is nothing they can do. It is now 41 years after the liberation struggle and there is nothing to show for they still have not had the land that they fought for. Why did they go to the liberation struggle because there is nothing to show for it? These are questions we ask ourselves as grandchildren of the war veterans.
In conclusion, I would like to say all those war veterans who gave up their lives for the liberation struggle should be remembered for the efforts they made towards liberating this country. Let us sit down and form these groups of people who are supposed to be accorded this respect. Most of them are grown ups and now that they are grown-ups we must mind the language or criteria that we are going to use. Some have lost memory, comprehension of the events and cannot relate properly.
It is because of some of these things that they will miss out on compensation. My request in this august House is, let us remember that they are grown ups and each individual is different. There are a lot of people who know them, so let us look at such things so that when they pass on, we should be able to remember them. A lot of people will be having knowledge of these different people who participated in the liberation struggle. I thank you.
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for affording me this chance to contribute to this very important motion. I do not have many items or issues to add to this motion but just to emphasize some specific points that have been already raised and some which might not have been raised. Mr. Speaker, the question we must be addressing ourselves is - why should we be talking about war veterans now? Have we not talked about vetting before? What has changed now? Have we not assisted the war veterans before? What has resulted in us wanting to re-assist them? Why do war veterans have to put a petition to Parliament so many years after independence? Do they have to come and beg Parliament to change laws?
The bottom line is, because we are not looking after them. Why should war veterans be seen to struggle to have a seat in Parliament? It is because they cannot look after themselves out there, not because their interest can be better championed when they are in Parliament, otherwise we will simply need one. All of them are finding life so difficult. At a time when we expect a war veteran to be resting, they are struggling to come back so that they make a living. They are struggling to petition Parliament; please look after us and change this law.
The bottom line Mr. Speaker, is people are very greedy. We do not look after each other as Africans. If it was me Mr. Speaker, we do not even need an Act. There is nothing new about war veterans. Why not look at how Smith or Rhodesia looked after its war veterans of the Second World War? My father was one of them. When he went and came back; he went as a small boy at 12 years, he was batman the one who cleans uniforms for the soldiers but after that, he became a pilot and came back as a very big person. His compatriots were given farms but because he was African, he was given at least something that we could see that things are changing for the old man. We were then able to live a peaceful life. He never wanted to go back to work because he was well looked after. America has war veterans - why not take the American Act and look at what the Americans do for their war veterans? Look at our Act Mr. Speaker, there is vetting. We have vetted before, so why do we still want to vet war veterans and vetted by who because most of these war veterans were using war names which have nothing to do with their current names or the previous ones because vetting might cause errors.
I know for a fact Mr. Speaker, that in my constituency. I have several war veterans that are earning money but never went to war. We never raised these issues because we have noticed that everywhere in the country, all other people are stealing in the similar manner. If we disadvantage our own, how will they survive? The vetting process has its own loopholes and this next vetting will bring in some more war veterans, some even younger to have been to war because this is now an eating trough.
The simplest way of vetting should start at a ward. If you ask us in our ward or anybody in the ward, we know who went to war. That board will simple check for the records like where did you go, et cetera but the preliminary vetting of who went to war, we know in every ward. If that was done, it will eliminate a lot of other bogus war veterans that we have heard about. Mr. Speaker, it is my proposal that it is not even necessary to have an Act. If we were really caring, how many war veterans are there for argument sake? If we ask for records which I do not think they have because most of the records are not very accurate. If we really talk about war veterans in the country, currently they could be less than 20 000 or even 10 000; they may struggle to get there. Why, most of them have died because they went to war when they were old and 40 years plus the number of years that they had when they went to war, certainly most of them died without even enjoying the fruits of their independence.
In the next 10 to 15 years, this Act that we want to change will be redundant because all of them, even these who are in Parliament will be dead from natural attrition. Fifteen years is too much if we add to their current years. If we need an Act Mr. Speaker, it is then my argument that we need an Act for the children of war veterans, not for the war veterans. What we simply need for the war veterans is to say, all war veterans will get a salary equal to the salary of a permanent secretary. They are not many and we will not even see them struggle to go to Parliament. The President or Vice President’s pension simple says the ex President will get a salary equal to a sitting President. Why not put a simple statement like that and say a war veteran’s salary will be equal to a serving Brigadier’s salary then we stop there? They will be looked after, respected because they will be smart, eating good food and with a good salary. How do you expect them to be respected when they are wearing slippers in offices and tattered clothes. Some of the conditions of war veterans, all of us are from rural areas, some of the poorest people will tell you I was in the struggle, then you really ask yourselves after all why did you go because most of them are living in abject poverty.
Give them a decent salary. It will not cost the nation because they are very few and after all, after a few days or few years they will be dead. They will no longer be there. It is not even a cost to the nation. Let us look after them in their last days of life. For us to start vetting, the Act - maybe it will take another year before it comes into effect because most of those who are working on the law are living pretty and to them it is not even urgent.
So when it comes we start going to vet in the rural areas. Some will be left out; some are already left out anyway. We know of some that died who did not even benefiting and we know there are people who died and were not vetted because they had already died, but they have families. How selfish are we that we do not even look after each other. I think I want to agree with Hon. Mliswa totally that the problem with us is we have been so greedy to the extent that we do not care about those that brought independence to this country which we are enjoying so much. The few that took advantage of being clever, are abusing those that were not very literate and the sad story is that during the war people were not very selfish. The former President Mugabe was not in the war front initially. They had to fish for him from all over because they realised that some of them were not educated and the war would need educated people. They were recruiting the educated people to try and push them in the forefront of the administration of the war and then they took guns to go to the front, but the clever educated are the ones that abused them later.
You see the unfortunate part, Mr. Speaker, I think it is my view that we do not need an Act, we just need a statement, two paragraphs which will look after the few war veterans that are there because they are not many, so that we do not need them here in Parliament struggling to survive. Even those farms that they are asking for most of them are too old. Let us put an Act for their children and most of them, in any case, I do not think there is a war veteran who has a 13 year old child now. Most of them are too old to make children by now. If they have children they could be post university. So what is it that we are afraid of to just put a statement that will look after the war veterans then we are done with it.
Mr. Speaker, I think these are delaying tactics to try and bring in friends to come and eat in the trough and disadvantage some and we know who these things are targeting. Look at it, $50 000 what did it do? As long as we handle these as piecemeal approaches it will not help the war veterans. You can put nice laws but it will never help because the people implementing are not interested. They got $50 000 and people were complaining that it killed the economy but what happened. Those who got $50 000 are still poor. They got tractors under Andy Mhlanga. There was a programme to give them small Chinese tractors and grinding mills. All of those things are dead, they are not working and they are back to zero. Now we are trying to bring in some small stipends to try and cushion them. Let us just give them a flat salary which can look after them and maybe provide a house. How is America, Zambia, DRC and Mozambique doing it, we are seeing these things. It is not a new thing. Let us copy from others. Simply copy and paste instead of trying to refine this wording it must be this, no this must be maybe or shall be. It will not work as long as we have too many criminals leading the war veterans. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. MURIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution to the debate. Mr. Speaker Sir, I stand here as one of the fighters of the liberation struggle that is being talked about. Having joined at the age of 14 I really know what was experienced by my colleagues.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe our laws now because of the debate that has taken place are very discriminatory on war veterans. As you would know, Mr. Speaker Sir, there are some war veterans who were serving in the army. They were given credit for their service in the struggle upon retirement. For example I was given eight years such that I had to retire after 12 years of effective service, having been credited with eight years. That eight years was never enjoyed by someone who was demobilised in 1980. The one who was demobilised in 1980 just got a pension, the war veterans pension without taking cognisance of the service that he rendered. So the pension is actually a thank you than what we call a pension. It is actually not a pension, it is not even a thank you, it is pittance. So if you take these two war veterans, the one who retired in 1980 and the one who retired in 1988 you would see that what they are getting in terms of pension is different because the other one got the eight years credit. Then as of last year those who were in the army up to 2017 there is a Statutory Instrument that is giving them benefits by virtue of them being a war veteran. Again that benefit is not being enjoyed by those who were left to go home in 1980.
So I am saying our laws are not treating war veterans equally. This is one of the outcries that are coming because the one who is benefiting a lot he is benefiting in getting the credit for eight years, he is benefiting through the Statutory Instrument of 2017. He is not crying because he is not getting the same benefit, he is getting far more benefits than the one who was released to go home in 1980.
The Constitution, as alluded to by my colleagues who spoke earlier on, is recognising the war veterans as the custodians of the legacy of the liberation struggle and that they should be respected for that, but on the other hand the country is crying to have women and youth represented in Parliament and yet those who are supposed to protect the legacy and push it on until they die, nobody talks about their representation in Parliament. All these war veterans you are seeing who are in Parliament, we actually had to struggle to come in so that we represent our colleagues and as we speak, they are watching to say what are you doing in Parliament, are you representing us as though we came to Parliament to represent them. We came to Parliament simply to exercise our right to enjoy the privileges that are given by the Constitution that anybody can stand as a Parliamentarian.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe instead of concentrating on what is it each war veteran should get, what we should do now is to ensure that the laws are balanced and that they treat all war veterans equally, such that the benefits that are being received are equal. The 20% is not being enjoyed at the same rate as some people have alluded to. If you go to the Ministry of lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement there is nothing like that. They do not even recognise that there is a war veteran that is looking for land.
Mr. Speaker Sir, everything else has been said. We walked throughout the country and we saw the plight of our colleagues the war veterans. If you go there and see them, Mr. Speaker Sir, you will cry. You will shed tears seeing the struggle that they are going through and the pain that they are enduring, the psychological torment that they get from the public. Mr. Speaker Sir, I think we should synchronise our laws and at the same time administratively look at our war veterans. With those few words, Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank you for the time that you have allotted me. Thank you.
HON. JAMES SITHOLE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to debate on this petition brought in by the war veterans and was brought into this august House by Hon. Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome. The petition states on top that ZPRA Cadres are the ones who brought this petition but at the bottom, the petition included all sides of the liberation struggle, Zambia/ ZANLA and ZPRA – I am grateful for that.
Mr. Speaker, I think some Hon. Members have already talked about everything. However, I just want to add on the vetting process when it started. For instance, if vetting was to be done for war collaborators, it will be a disaster. I am saying so because there were some DA’s, those other ones who were called dzakutsaku who went for call up but they knew the names of the war veterans and the bases they operated from and took that advantage. Therefore, I think the vetting process must have strong restrictions to say do not give fake details as has been referred to by fellow Hon. Member that there are fake war veterans.
Sellouts are there and the War Veterans Associations are getting money but they are forgetting that even now, there is a war veteran who is in caves. The shoeless of a leather boot is still intact in a born and the carcass teeth are open. Some are in shallow graves yet there are some war veterans who are earning money. The families of those who perished during the liberation struggle are not getting anything.
I think that one is a very painful issue Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue must be looked into. I want to submit that when time comes for vetting, it must be done based on where someone was operating from and not war veterans in urban areas. Some villages know who were the war collaborators and other groups during the liberation struggle.
My understanding on this petition is that I heard the war veterans saying the category and the benefits must not be the same. Yes, how can it be the same? The benefits for a person who crossed the country to go and stay in the bush for so many years and someone who was here in town should differ. We know even those who were here, some were singing, some were cooking food; they worked tirelessly without any protection. Some of them were bombarded because they had no protection. Therefore, when a petition comes to us, it is for us to add something or to subtract. In my view, it cannot be the same benefits.
Again, on the issue of names to say everyone is a war veteran, one alluded to the fact that a war veteran can be someone who fought in DRC or Mozambique. Why not name them freedom fighters, those who went for war and crossed flooded rivers. We also try to bring another name or we say war veterans, ex-detainees and war collaborators.
I think when this petition comes to Parliament; it needs all Members of Parliament to bring in a support where it can assist our nation and our fellow comrades. Those comrades who perished in the bush, their families are still struggling to know how they can benefit on behalf of their relatives. I thank you.
*HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to also contribute to this debate. I would like to thank Hon. Brig Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome who is the Chairperson of this Committee who brought in the report on the petition which was brought here by liberation war heroes.
I am from Mashonaland West where fierce battles were fought. I would like to thank the war veterans for all they have done because it was through them that we are here in this august House. They did a great job on behalf of the nation. I would like to say thank you very much.
Hon. Speaker, I would like to start with the issue with regards to what was said by Hon. Gabbuza to say we have asked a lot of questions in this House of the National Assembly with regard to the war veterans of the liberation struggle so that they get assistance. It is my wish and desire to say the Minister in charge of these war veterans be able to come through to this House to answer and give a Ministerial Statement with regard to this statement. Even the views of these members in this House, he should be able to answer, give advice and respond to this petition on the suffering of the war veterans.
It is so embarrassing and alarming Hon. Speaker for us to keep on talking about the plight of these liberation war heroes. A lot of people have spoken about our freedom. We now have 41 years of independence. I stand before you in this House Hon. Speaker to say in August when celebrate the lives of these war veterans or heroes, what we look forward is that before we get to that day, let them be given a chance to celebrate and enjoy that which they suffered for.
Hon. Speaker, when you look at Government, we have a lot of ministries that can be doing a lot of things with regard to what is supposed to be done for the lives of these war veterans to change. There are a lot of things that they can do. When you see a child insisting that they want to go to another homestead, it is because where they are staying they are not living well. They came to this House because they have confidence in us.
What I am saying Hon. Speaker is, we have Government ministries and the first one is that of health. They can get assistance from the Ministry of Health but there should be identification papers that identify them as liberation war heroes and that cannot take a long time for us to decide. Even when they are travelling Hon. Speaker, we are speaking of people who have aged and are not children. They can get documents from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare with the assistance of Government. This will be a passport which allows them to move around so they have ease of movement. They should not have any difficulties in moving around the country or beyond.
We have the Ministry of Local Government in charge of housing. They can actually move in and assist with housing for those who do not have housing, accommodation that enables those who do not have it to find accommodation. We also have the Ministries of Agriculture and Labour. If we fail to give those who fought in the liberation struggle, our heroes; if we cannot assist them, who then are we going to render assistance to? Hon. Gabbuza said it well and I am with what he said. These war veterans no longer have children who go to school. They now look after other families. Because of them leaving for the liberation struggle, they should be people who actually get something to sustain them. That will give us a better position in society as a nation to say we are looking after our own people who worked hard for us during the liberation struggle.
In South Africa, they do have liberation war heroes. Let us go and learn how they are managing their own system of supporting those who fought in the liberation struggle. In Tanzania, we do have the same people who did such a great job. Let us go and copy and understand how they are managing the situation.
In summation, we were once told in this House of the National Assembly, that there was a fact-finding mission undertaken to establish how many war veterans are there, where they stay, the number of wives they have, how many women and men are there because you can only assist those who have been identified and if you know the exact numbers, their location and what they are doing.
I would like to thank again those who came with this petition to say they were so brave to come to the National Assembly. I would like to thank Parliament for accepting and receiving this petition. I would like to thank the Committee Chairperson for receiving this petition as well as this House. Let us not look down upon this petition but let us look forward to fixing these issues. Time does not wait for someone. It would be of great effect if we fix this and work with urgency to assist them. I look forward to the Minister responsible for this particular issue to come and respond to this particular petition. These people should have assistance rendered to them as a matter of priority.
HON. SHAMU: Mr. Speaker, I would like to premise my contribution by thanking Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Mayihlome and his Committee for having taken upon themselves to delve into this issue and this petition which has today brought us to discuss issues pertaining to the livelihoods of our esteemed war veterans.
Mr. Speaker, listening to Hon. Members of Parliament contributing, I say to myself - what we have here is like a review of what we did and agreed to do and we are then saying, what is it that we have not done properly. Obviously when you get a petition, it means there is a problem and that problem needs to be addressed. I totally agreed with Hon. Members who have underscored the fact that we should be able to come up with recommendations that bring finality to issues of this nature.
Democratic principles Mr. Speaker Sir, are indeed the DNA of war veterans. The issue that they raise with regard to the War Veterans Board, the need for transparency in its appointment, is an issue that I think is very important. We have had the experience of many Commissions that have gone through Parliament and where there has been consultation with the public. Therefore, the request for consultation at provincial and district level by the war veterans is a noble suggestion. War veterans are a special category of people. It is not the whole nation but a number that can be accounted for and therefore, zeroing-in on them in order for us to come up with a board that they have confidence in is a must for us to be able to proceed onward in terms of meeting the needs, aspirations and requirements of our war veterans.
Secondly, I want to touch on the issue of vetting processes. I have a paper that I was given about two or three weeks ago which has the biography of one war veteran called Morgan Hwami. He operated in Gaza Province, got injured there and came back to the rear – appointed to the protocol division of the party. Alas, Mr. Speaker Sir, when his relatives tried to go and request for support in terms of his having been a war veteran, they were turned down and told that he is not a war veteran. This is painful, it hurts. However, this does happen in many cases where such important tasks are carried out by people who do not understand what it is that they have to do. Therefore, the exercise has to be done in a very meticulous manner by people who would have been prepared for it and especially going back to some of the commanders of our fighting forces.
We are now in the industrial revolution phase where we see ICT playing a very important role. I do not see the problem that we can have if we were where to use the modern methods of accounting for people like we do with our own census, in order for us to come up with a proper register of war veterans which can be made available at ward, district, provincial and national level. No-one can tell me that we will continue to have more war veterans being born in the year 2030 and still claim to have joined the liberation struggle at the age of thirty or fifteen. Like Hon. Gabbuza stated here, we are over 40 years now since we became independent and to be honest with each other, how old are we today? Numbers cannot continue to increase every day.
There must be something that is not normal which we need to correct and corrections will only come from scientific analysis of this situation. The practical way of doing it is for us to go through our ICT systems – the computers there. Let us get all names of all war veterans – all those who claim to be war veterans, let them be registered. Let them be examined and the truth be established, and verify genuine war veterans for the purposes of ensuring that we serve people who are supposed to be given the necessary benefits.
I would like to thank Hon. T. Mliswa who hinted the fact that I was one of the founders of the War Veterans Association and that is true. That came about because within the family, you have a relative who is on a wheel chair and is not able to assist himself because he was injured in the war. You will find a family fending for that relative or neighbour. We felt there was a need for an association to look after the welfare of war veterans. It gives us joy that today Government does recognise that fact.
We are able to debate this issue in Parliament here and what is the aim and objective – the objective is to create a lasting foundation that provides a better livelihood for our war veterans. However, let that be done on the basis of fact. Let us make a clear analysis based on facts and then be able to say what it is that has got to be done. We can tinker around with the Constitution or Acts but if implementation is poor, our objectives will come to nought. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*HON. MASHONGANYIKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate in this august House. I would like to thank those who brought in this petition which has to do with war veterans’ welfare. Since 1980, Government has tried its best to assist the war veterans, but because of the hardships or challenges that we have faced as we progressed in independence - these included sanctions, hence we are facing economic challenges. I would like to thank the Government for considering quite a number of factors.
Coming up with war veterans associations was trying to locate them and also to render assistance in the different areas that are in. We want to thank the leadership of the war veterans and our Ministry of War Veterans. This reflects that the war veterans are still experiencing challenges. Most of the things that needed to be addressed were not completely addressed. I was thinking that in terms of vetting war veterans, I heard those who spoke before me saying that those who were not part of the liberation war can be chosen or elected. From the areas that we come from, we have village heads who know those who were part of the liberation struggle. I think that is another strategy we can use to find out who is a war veteran. For us to come up with a clear definition of war veterans, every comrade who left his family, crossed over to neighbouring countries and joined other fighters in the bush. In my view, when the Government eventually considers the war veterans, it should be inclusive of those who lost their lives and left their families behind without getting any compensation. We cannot ignore and take it as a done deal. We should compensate them through their siblings who need assistance.
We also need to consider those who lost their lives during the war and were not accorded decent burials with different parts of the body in different places because of the war. I think those families should be assisted to locate the remains of their parents and their locations since they sacrificed their lives for the independence of the people that we enjoy today.
We also need to benchmark with other countries on how the welfare of war veterans is considered. This will enable us to see where we are lacking. My proposal is that on the issue of age, as debated by other Hon. Members that since 1980, including the years that they were in the bush fighting for independence experiencing the harsh life without good food, those years are critical. We also need to look at the years since 1980, most of them are now above 50 years. My proposal Mr. Speaker Sir is that if the Government says that they are experiencing financial challenges, most war veterans have lost their lives. They are slowly becoming extinct. It would be good for the leadership in our different communal areas from village level to consider the poverty that the war veterans are experiencing especially those in rural areas.
We need to consider the most disadvantage war veterans. I am a war veteran and my standard of living is better. We can request that those who are advantaged should give preference for assistance to the disadvantaged. We have people living in poverty who need to be assisted. We need to come up with a solution. We have individuals who are corrupt; since the Mugabe era they have amassed wealth for themselves as individuals. I think if we know these corrupt individuals, the war veterans who are now late and those who are now living in poverty should get that wealth repossessed from the corrupt individuals so that we all benefit. As war veterans, we know the war veterans who are struggling in all areas. I remember someone talked about the issue of health. War veterans are dying because there is no one to represent them. Are you aware that every war veteran was given 25% for mental illness? My proposal is that the Government should not renege on assistance because life is becoming more difficult.
In conclusion Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank the President for his recognition of the role women played in the liberation struggle through the Mbuya Nehanda statue. It has given us a sense of pride and dignity for this recognition. There is a lot that we did as women through Mbuya Nehanda. We thank you. In our Constitution, there was a lot on the provisions for war veterans which included health, right to decent shelter and economic empowerment. Mr. Speaker Sir, war veterans should be empowered through our natural resources. A certain percentage should be set aside for war veterans. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for affording me this opportunity and I become emotional because we do have our rural homes. Think of Rushinga and Mt. Darwin. If we mobilise the war veterans in the area, you will all end up in tears. This means that this is not to say it is only Mashonaland Central with war veterans but nationwide including Matabeleland. People were committed towards independence. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and also to thank those who brought the petition.
(v)*HON. MASENDA: I want to thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion. I want to urge the Government to fulfill its promises. I have heard a lot of talk being done but nothing happens in practice. I want to thank the Second Dispensation – Mr. Speaker Sir, may people mute their gadgets because it is disturbing my debate.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You may go ahead Hon. Member. You are very clear.
HON. MASENDA: I want to say the Act on the War Veterans Liberation Struggle, Chapter 17 clearly outlines what should be done for veterans of the liberation struggle to get a better livelihood but nothing is being done. No implementation is being done. The money is there, so we should urge each other that what is provided for in the Act should be implemented.
I also want to say that the Constitution, Section 84 is talking about war veterans, that they should be given basic health care. Why basic health care? Are we not entitled to full medical care? This basic health care means that out of 100, you are not getting much. This should be addressed. We need more than basic health care and it is their health that is important for the war veterans to survive. When we talk of basic health care, I become disturbed. We want full health care.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to talk about the 20% that was mentioned before. The 20% is referring mostly to land but land is not the only resource that brings a better source of living to the war veterans. Over and above land, we need 20% on mechanisation equipment; there are scholarships as well. The 20% should be spread across different available programmes.
I want to talk about the Heroes Day celebrations. We are the heroes. In my opinion, the war veterans are not really respected. In other countries, you would find the war veterans are given full recognition. Even if they are disabled, you see them being pushed in their wheelchairs and getting the recognition that they deserve. Here in Zimbabwe, no one looks at war veterans; we are looked down upon. I think the Government needs to give us at least medals that define us as veterans of the liberation struggle. There has been a lot of talk about this but it is not being done.
I want to talk about Command Agriculture. People should be empowered to enable them to engage in farming. Most war veterans are now aged and if you go to try and get farming inputs, we struggle to get these inputs because of our age. So, we should be recognised and respected and we should not queue for farming inputs.
I want to talk about vetting. Vetting was done many years ago. There are war veterans who are getting pensions. Yes, they should be getting what the Act provides for. Those who were vetted and are eligible should get their pensions. Also, the vetting should proceed for those who are yet to be vetted. I also want to say that if one loses his or her spouse who was a war veteran and was availed land, the spouse loses the land. The family is dispossessed of that land. This is disheartening and painful Mr. Speaker Sir. We want the law to provide that if a war veteran gets whatever resources, no one should dispossess the family of that war veteran, of the resources because the war veteran has passed away. Instead, we need to protect the legacy of the war veterans with the spouse and the children inheriting their legacy.
I now want to talk about COVID-19. When the vaccination process began, we were told about the first categories, second categories for vaccination, but no way did I hear about war veterans category. Are we not considering the work that was done by war veterans? I am proposing that the war veterans should be recognised and considered the way that probably the Army and ZRP are recognised. I want to conclude by saying let us not only talk but let us act because it has been long since these provisions have been talked about and written, but there is no implementation. I thank you.
HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD) MAYIHLOME: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. S. SITHOLE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 2nd June, 2021
HON. MUTAMBISI: I move that the House do now adjourn.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
On the motion of HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD) MAYIHLOME seconded by HON. MUTAMBISI, the House adjourned at Twenty Seven Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.