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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 16 June 2020 46 45
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 16th June 2020
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker Sir. I have written to you on a matter that I think needs to be addressed. I am bound by the Constitution of this country and the oath that I took and on several times, you told us about self respect which is important. Again, the position of Chair is never for abuse but the respect too is earned …
THE HON. SPEAKER: May I interrupt you Hon. Member.
I have seen your letter and I am going to reply to it in detail after I have done some research. This will include the decision which the
Hon. Deputy Speaker ruled on. I am also putting that together so that there is a comprehensive response to your letter. I am seized with the matter.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Sir. I will not touch on the aspects of that letter. I will talk about self respect amongst us as Members.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That will be included as well.
HON. T. MLISWA: I say so because it cannot continue. If it does continue, it is also incumbent upon you the Chair to ensure…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mliswa. That will be
included as well.
*HON. MAKONYA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: You recall the ruling that we have made before.
*HON. MAKONYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of privilege is on the event that took place yesterday when we were praying for God’s protection from coronavirus as well as praying for the wellbeing of the whole nation. It was a combined fasting because our country is under attack from coronavirus as well as economic difficulties and living conditions in this country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, yesterday in the middle of fasting and praying for God’s intervention on coronavirus, we were travelling but we were not told by the President that we have to fast whilst we are at home or that it becomes a public holiday. We were only told that we were supposed to fast and pray.
In the midst of that; yesterday I and my friends were very much disturbed by what we saw. We were disturbed by law enforcement officers and the army. Mr. Speaker Sir, we were coming to work because Parliament sits today and some people were coming to attend Committees. Mr. Speaker, we tried to explain to them that we were going to Parliament but all our vehicles were searched at roadblocks. That put us off the spirit of prayer and fasting and I am saying during the time of prayer, you cease to maintain the praying spirit. As a result, some people ended up losing focus on fasting and praying yesterday, including today some people are unable to travel because of the police and the army. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. I am very sorry about what happened. I know that Hon. Members of this House had committees, it is true. What happened is this: as Parliament we were not yet allowed to work during lockdown. The law to ensure we are allowed to work was only released on Friday night. That is when it was gazetted as S.I. 136 of 2020. Is that so Hon. Leader of Government business? Yes – thank you. So that has been sorted out and I believe that law enforcement agents will consider that law that allows us to work. Secondly, as Members of Parliament we are not supposed to be stuck in queues. We are supposed to come to
Parliament and work. So the law was gazetted that supports work of Parliament starting last Friday night. I am sure the law enforcement agents had not yet seen the law. Thank you.
*HON. MLAMBO: What happened is the Hon. Member who
just spoke said what I wanted to say.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. According to
Standing Order 106, we are not allowed to repeat what was said. So you were only supposed to stand and say, ‘what I wanted to say has already been talked about by the Hon. Member’. End of story, please take your seat.
+HON. MAHLANGU: I thank you Mr speaker for giving me
this opportunity to speak. I had a time to leave my constituency in
Pumula to go and look for a goat. Unfortunately, I found out that a goat now costs more than US$100. Therefore, looking at matters here in Zimbabwe a man is a man by his assets. That means we are going to be unable to rear domestic animals under these circumstances. I am therefore requesting that you look at the matters of salaries for people here at Parliament. I want us to look at salaries of us here at Parliament and all civil servants.
+THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. Order! order. That is a matter which does not concern Members of Parliament. That is something that should be introduced tomorrow as a question. I thank you.
Before we proceed, will all Hon. Members please observe social distancing? You are too close to each other for comfort. Can you exercise your own spirit before I say one, two and three go out. I am waiting. Members on my left you are too crowded here in front. Please do not force me to say one, two, three go out. Use your discretion. Do you want me to uplift you or uplift yourselves? On my right you are fine here but there is some crowding on the front bench. Hon. Mahlangu can you go up to the Speaker’s gallery.
The Hon. Speaker encouraged Hon. Members to maintain social distancing – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order. This is serious business. You made an oath that you are going to respect the laws of Zimbabwe. If the Speaker’s Gallery is full, you can go to the Government Caucus and you can follow on your IPad.
Please do not argue with the Chair.
Hon. Members, we have taken 15 minutes trying to organise ourselves and it is time wasted. So, can you regulate yourselves so that we save time?
HON. KARENYI: Mr. Speaker, I think there is need put distancing marks like they do at the shops as they put stickers to mark the distancing.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you for that advice. The
Administration of Parliament will make sure that the seats are properly disaggregated.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, for as long as there is no
Leader of Government Business and Chief Whip on this side, there will always be problems in terms of the sitting arrangements because by nature, it is the Chief Whips who whip them.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That is why I say sometimes as
human beings, we need extra assistance. Your point is taken.
ZIMBABWE MEDIA COMMISSION BILL [H.B. 8, 2019].
First Order Read: Adjourned debate on Second Reading of the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill [H. B. 8, 2019].
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you
Mr. Speaker Sir. This is one of the Bills that is repealing AIPPA and it is part of our media reform Bills and I want to thank also the Portfolio Committee that went around to gather information pertaining to the views of the people and some of the inputs which we agreed to include in the Bill. Having said that Mr. Speaker, I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE BILL [H.B.
Second Order read: Adjourned debate on Second Reading of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill [H.B. 16, 2019].
Question again proposed.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I also
want to add my voice to this debate. The issue that we are debating about today is an issue that was supposed to have been solved a long time ago, not years after the liberation struggle. We seem to have forgotten about the liberation struggle. A lot of freedom fighters died after independence. We now have fake people who are claiming to be war veterans. This Bill is not helping us in commemorating the true heroes and heroines. The genuine people are suffering and they did not get anything.
I do not see the delay in implementing laws that will make lives of the war collaborators better. It is now 40 years after independence and we are still talking of this issue. I was watching television this other day and there was this woman, a former liberation fighter who was narrating her story of being given food measured in cups by people. She was saying in this corona era, I do not know the health of those people handling these cups. I am suffering but I am a war veteran.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I witnessed the liberation struggle and when I speak of the liberation war fighters, I am not speaking of the helpers; neither am I speaking of those who were in detention. I am speaking of people who really participated in the liberation struggle, who were holding guns and slept with their shoes on. They did not have time to remove their shoe. These are the people that I am talking about.
I feel very troubled because those who were helpers are the ones that are alive today and they are the ones who are enjoying now. Some died and those who were injured in the struggle, after independence; a lot did not survive because of the injuries they sustained during the liberations struggle. Some had bullets in their bodies and are now dead. No one even remembers their families. If you look at scholarship programmes that are offered by Government, if we are to look at how many war veterans’ children benefited from that programme, you will find there is none. On War Victims’ Compensation Fund of 1997, no genuine liberation war fighters benefited. Now we are still saying that war veterans need to be vetted, those who trained died a long time ago. Who do you want to vet now? – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] - Some are now mentally ill. We did not give them time to be rehabilitated into the society after coming back from the liberation struggle. If you are to meet a freedom fighter right now, they act as if they are still in the liberation struggle because they were not rehabilitated but those who were clever enough, who never fully participated in the struggle are the ones that are benefiting now. I have a relative who participated in the liberation struggle. During election times, they send people to take him so that he can show people his wounds and injured fingers but when he falls ill, I am the one who takes him to hospital.
They do not even get treatment, medical aid, nothing of that sort. That did not need any other Bill or Act besides all the Acts or Bills that went through this Parliament. Up to date, they are still suffering. Some of them still have the skin grafting that they got after bombings. I know some of them because they were kept at Bindura. My brother was part of that crew. So from there, they were being taken to Harare Hospital from Ruwa. I used to see what was happening. I helped most of them in their burial.
So, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about real war veterans, we are talking about people who sacrificed their lives so that we get to where we are today. We are talking about some who may be alive today, but while we are busy debating right now; there is nothing we are doing for them.
Right now we are going to increase the number of people. The list will be full of people claiming to be war veterans, including those who did not hold any guns. So that blows up the budget and it becomes difficult for them to be allocated money. Why? Because there are many other people who are simply claiming. Some of them maybe 42 years old and they claim to be war veterans, if you were to go through that list, if we were to ask the Minister of Defence and War Veterans to bring a roll call here so that we also see what happens; you will understand what I am talking aobut.
If we still have 40 000 war veterans right now, it is a lie. Real veterans today are not more than 20 000. Therefore, it is a manageable figure – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue that I am talking about, if there is anyone who knows that they are a war veteran, do not be disturbed because I am including you in that number of 20 000. If you find yourself being disturbed by that, it is because you are only claiming. You are not real war veterans. So why are you booing, what did you hear?
Hon. Matangira, if he does not have that respect, if he has nothing to say, there are some war veterans who need a place to sit.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Madzimure, do not assume my seat please. I will talk to the Hon. Member. Just go on expressing yourself. Forget about any other things.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. It is because we know each other. So Mr. Speaker, my point is our records should be credible so that when resources are being allocated to the deserving people, it may be done properly.
The other thing Mr. Speaker Sir is, there is a time when we get to a point where war veterans are harassed or provoked emotionally. I have seen war veterans being sprayed with water cannons by policemen when they try to express themselves. That is an issue that really disturbed me because if those people start recalling what they went through during the liberation struggle, it is very disturbing.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Some Hon. Members
in the Speaker’s Gallery are busy pointing. Please look at your i-pad so that you may see what is being said here. Please look at you ipads.
*HON. MADZIMURE: They expect that what the war
veterans should get must not just by way of lip service but should be genuine because there will not be a second liberation struggle. The other struggles will just be to polish up. They fought the war and that was it. If you were to ask them during that time, they would tell you that they were fighting to liberate everyone. Therefore we will not have other war veterans to fight for the liberation or the independence of this country.
The first Act referred to them as those who participated during the liberation struggle from 1962 to 1968. So that opportunity must be stopped. Let us stop on those people who were vetted already. They should not be another second chance for other people who want to be vetted now who were there all along. That will give a cost burden to the fiscas if we were to set up another board to vet the war veterans. So a board that understands the plight of the war veterans should be set up, not necessarily a board of people who only worry about their allowances. Those people will start crying over allowances. War veterans are a people known for fighting to liberate the rights of everyone.
I remember people like Andy Mhlanga who started fighting for the plight of war veterans. During those times, it was a very difficult time because they were labeled to be rebelling against the ruling party. So such people have a history of war veterans. Those people can speak better about the plight of their fellow comrades because they know better.
Today I may also be vetted as a war collaborator but the truth is that I cannot be called a war veteran and cannot be equal to people who were trained and held guns during the Liberation struggle. Even if they may not have participated in the front, it is different from some of us who remained back home. The differences should be made very clear and should not be made light because there are people who sacrificed their lives and deserve compensation. So far, there is nothing we have done for them. If we are making these laws to compensate them, that is a welcome move.
We have seen a lot about the vetting process where some people claimed to be 99% disabled and took the money which was never retained and some of the people who did that have since passed on. It is important that we vet these people and at least compensate them so that we appease their spirits. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me
this opportunity so that I can also participate on this Bill on war veterans. The previous speaker spoke very well that it is surprising that we are only debating about this issue 40 years later.
*HON. MADZIMURE: I do not know Mr. Speaker whether we can check records because I am told Hon. Matangira once debated on this issue.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, you can proceed Hon.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. What I wanted to say Mr. Speaker Sir is; the previous speaker spoke very well but in English they say, ‘it is better late than never.’ Mr. Speaker Sir, this Bill on the war veterans is silent because what we know is that a crab can only give birth to similar species. Any tree produces fruits which are known to be produced by that fruit tree. All those who participated in the liberation struggle, including those who may have lost their lives during the liberation struggle – I thought this Bill should ensure that they are handled equally according to the law.
I do not know whether this Bill will only assist those who are still alive or should include those who have passed on but left their widows and children. Are they not also entitled to the benefits? Most importantly, the world over, even in the United States of America, they are pioneers and they respect their veterans, the same with Japan and Germany. I think even if we delayed, the truth be spoken, let us now address that issue. As Parliament, let us ensure that the process is expedited so that if we feel that those who were gun bearers during the liberation struggle should get their benefits first, so be it. However, let us not forget that war veterans lived amongst people, it was like fish living in water. They were not going to be able to operate well, if there was no civilians and collaborators, they should be categorized. Their benefits should be different according to their ranks. It is now difficult because the law says we should not be charged a lot of money for a bride price.
However, I suggest that they be categorised and get their benefits according to those categories. We are continuously talking about that, yet they are dying gradually like what has been alluded to by the previous speaker. Some of them have conditions and side effects as a result of the war. Mr. Speaker Sir, if that could be addressed expeditiously. The previous speaker talked about expensive goats as a reference, how about the war veterans out there, how are they living if we as Hon. Members are earning little money and complain about the prices.
I remember when I was still a garden boy, my hands touched dog dung, I tried to wash it off with one hand and the smell persisted until I used both hands to wash off the dirt. What it means is that those who helped the war veterans should also get compensation. Let us just say the combatant who was holding the gun and the one who was helping him should all be rewarded well. I thank you Hon.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: May I request Hon. Sikhala, just sit down for a while…
*HON. SIKHALA: I was actually on my way downstairs to come and debate Mr. Speaker Sir.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Sikhala may you kindly
resume your seat for a while.
I want to request Hon. Members who intend to speak, to connect to their tablets and speak into their tablets. It allows those who are in the Senate Chamber and Government Caucus to follow the proceedings - if I can persuade you accordingly.
May I also request Hon. Members seated in the last row, in the
Speaker’s Gallery on my right, may you please keep social distance.
There is plenty space on your left.
HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir!
There is no network on the tablets.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Are you connected,
because you have to be connected? Switch on your tablet.
HON. CHIKWINYA: May the IT Officer come over and
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, someone is coming
to assist. Hon. Masango, yes, yes take to the podium. I want to believe that you are feeling better now?
HON. MATAMBANADZO: Sure.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, praise the Lord.
*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for
giving me this opportunity and health wise, I feel much better. I stood up just to add onto this War Veterans Bill and I believe that if I am to add these words – it will improve our image as a country.
Indeed, a lot of war veterans have since died and left widows. Some of them left behind very young widows because they married young girls after the liberation struggle. When they died, we would then neglect the young widows. I say this because in terms of their benefits from Government, some of them would lose those benefits such as farms that they had benefited – I am referring to the widows of war veterans. As soon as their spouses passed on, they would lose their farms. These farms were not only given to war veterans who fought in the liberation struggle, but even during the Second World War some of the fighters got those benefits as farms. Some of them still have those farms because they have title deeds.
What is the difference between those war veterans and the current war veterans? How come the first beneficiaries got title deeds whilst those who participated in the Second Chimurenga struggle tend to lose their benefits? It is very painful because the children of fallen heroes/war veterans end up with no benefits. The country should compensate the families but after coming back, they got farms and as soon as they died, their families would lose those farms – this is what I want to refer to.
I understand that there is a proposal that war veterans should be vetted. There are some war veterans like in my home area in Hurungwe who came back mentally disturbed and were not accepted or regarded as war veterans. It is very painful because such people never got their benefits even when some people witnessed on their behalf because there was no proper advertising for the vetting of war veterans – if only similar campaigns like what is happening with
COVID-19 had been made, maybe they would have participated. Some would be requested to narrate how they joined the liberation struggle and because of loss of memory, they would say contradicting statements. So they ended up losing out in terms of benefits.
I also want to refer to some who died during the war. Their remains were picked for some time but the programme was stopped by Sibanda from Bulawayo when he became Chairman of the war veterans. I do not know why the programme was stopped. Madam Speaker, let us move away from that tradition and formulate a law that ensures whoever got a position even if they would have been ministers, they get their benefits after that. In Zimbabwe, whenever someone loses their position, they also lose out on their benefits. I do not think that is good and I think that is the reason why we have Bills every time because everyone who comes up - brings on a new Bill. I thank you.
*HON. SHAVA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I stand in support
of the Bill on War Veterans. I would like to suggest that this Bill goes through quickly so that the beneficiaries get their intended benefits on time because some of them are in a deplorable state and others do not have inputs or equipment in terms of agriculture. So if this Bill were to be expedited, it would go a long way in alleviating the plight of such people - because as you see us here in Parliament, there are the people who made sure that we as Africans can now participate in Parliament. Unlike in the past when it was only the preserve of whites unlike in the past when it was only reserved for whites. They are the people who fought the war and played a role that is very important. These people should get their benefits quickly so that our ancestoral spirits can also be appeased because they went through a lot of difficulties. They were protected by the ancestral spirits of this country. This is my view Madam Speaker Ma’am. May this Bill be expedited so that these people may get a better life and I think that would also help this country to move forward. I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. GABBUZA: Madam Speaker, thank you for the
opportunity to debate. In my debate I will try to mention names so that those responsible will make a follow up. I have looked at the Bill Madam Speaker. There are some categories of war veterans that are being overlooked. We have those war veterans that went to war and came back but because of the stresses of the liberation struggle, the activities that were taking place in the battle field disturbed their minds. Those war veterans were not able to explain their
whereabouts during the initial vetting process that took place and qualified their comrades.
I have a good example of a war veteran who on a good day you can use him and you can send him to do any errands. We call him Jack; he stays in Kamativi. That man on a bad day, he will be imitating all that was happening at the war front; taking cover, shooting, et cetera. Everyone knows that this man is a war veteran but he is getting nothing. Nobody is looking after him. He has not been vetted and he has a family. We know he is a war veteran. I hope the Bill should find some sections to address such issues because on his own he cannot go to the vetting committee to explain these processes because his mind is no longer very coordinated.
Madam Speaker, you remember vetting did not take place soon after the assembly points. It took place years later. Before the vetting took place, we have several war veterans that we know participated in the liberation struggle who died before the initial vetting and they left families. Nobody is looking after these families. I have a good example of a Mr. Simatara from Kariyangwe, a relative of Chief Siansali. He was operating on the surveillance front, checking the crossing points before the guerillas crossed into Zimbabwe. He operated along the Zambezi. We knew him. He had a shrapnel all over his body and I remember on one of his eyes, he had a sharp nail that they could not remove at the hospital. He died a war veteran but he had not yet been vetted. He has a family and his children are not getting a thing.
We have war veterans who died towards assembly points. I remember in 1979 towards 1980, several buses were bombed by the regime when they were moving towards Bubi to the Gwayi River assembly points. A Bonface Siansali who was a commander in the ZIPRA Forces was killed there immediately. We know he left children but his family is getting nothing. I hope those crafting the Bill must look at such cases. We have a Mr. Barnabas Mwembe from within my constituency, he has children some of whom I had to assist because he was my mukwasha, he married one of our relatives. We all know he was a war veteran. He went to war, was very active in the struggle but he died before vetting and his family is getting nothing.
The other issue that the Bill must address is the selective burial of war veterans. We have seen on television some war veterans being given 21 gun salute assistance at the funeral. Unfortunately, in my rural area I have seen very little of such when war veterans die. Recently, I buried a Mr. Stephen Chalu from Tinde. He was a commander in the ZIPRA Forces. When he died, the District War Veterans Chairperson only came at the end of the burial. We had to look around and put together monies to try and get him buried decently. The structures of the War Veterans Association were nowhere to be seen. He is not the only one. There is also a Mr. Mudenda from Cross Dete who died and there was no assistance. To me it looks like some of the services available to the war veterans can only be accessed by those who are closer to the structures of the war veterans or those who are in urban areas. When a war veteran dies in the rural areas, we see very little of such assistance.
Just two months ago, a Mr. Mudimba from Siansali again who was a chairperson of the War Veterans Association and worked at the hospital, it was the hospital that looked after all his burial arrangements. The War Veterans Association and Government only came towards the end. All the time when he was sick, he never got any assistance. I hope the war veterans structures will look into this. This is very important Madam Speaker because when we say war veterans – I am glad Hon. Matangira mentioned it. It looks like we are concentrating on those that are surviving but we forget that for somebody to survive, either he was not at the war front or he was so lucky to have been missed by bullets. Those that died, it is evident enough that they were practically and actively involved and we forget about them.
What are we saying about the people that we know went to war and died in Zambia? Are they no longer war veterans? Cannot we do something to their families? It looks like the war veteran is only the one who was lucky to come back from the war and was not killed. However, in my strongest belief I really think the war veteran is the one who died for this country. That should be the war veteran number one. The second one should be the one who survived. Some could have survived because they were still training when the war was active or they survived because they were so lucky that they were deployed in areas where there was no active war. Madam Speaker, I think all these areas must be looked at.
Lastly, the issue of history is important. This is where the whites always beat us; record keeping. During the Inclusive Government, I used to joke with Hon. Shamu. I said, President Mugabe has not written a single book about his involvement in the war. If he dies, anybody can say something about his history and involvement because he will be no longer there to speak for himself which I think is one weakness. That is why many times when a war veteran dies, there become so much debate to determine whether he should be conferred heroes status or should be conferred provincial or national hero status. It is because our records are so poor. Why do we not slot in the Bill a section which forces the compulsory compilation of information about war veterans before they die so that when they die a record is already there on where they operated, with who and under which commander etcetera. This will reduce a tendency of some crooks who take advantage of the dead. You remember Madame Speaker, there was a debate – we all believed and it is read about
Hon. Joyce Mujuru having shot down a helicopter but when she was no longer a favourite of some powers she was no longer a war veteran. We have had debates and questions about some Members in this House who claim to be war veterans but other people deny it but when they are in good standing we know they are war veterans and when in bad standing a lot of things are said about them. We have heard someone never went to war but he was a taxi driver or he was this and that. We do not want that kind of debate. There must be evidence written down of war veterans. Let people talk while they are still alive and give us a narrative of their war credentials and other people should collaborate that information while the war veteran is still alive. When they die we have no debate because the records will be correctly filed. Mandela has written a book about himself, president Tsvangirai wrote a book about himself and it becomes easy to know these people. President Mugabe has not written a book about himself and he died without that biography. Now the people that will write about him will add some information which might not be very correct and this is what we are trying to avoid.
The war veterans institution must be respected and for it to be respected it must not be polluted by people who never went to war but are claiming to be war veterans. So, this is my plea and I wish the Minister in the crafting of this Bill if that is missing will find some space and push it in so that we have a compulsory compilation of information which is properly collaborated. I know that ZIPRA tried to do it under the Mahlera Trust but again those who were doing it never got support. We have a lot of historians who could be commissioned to interview every war veteran and we archived this information. There is a mausoleum museum in America with history about some people in Zimbabwe which we do not have here. If you google Thomas Mapfumo there will be a lot written about him but if you go to our own museum there is nothing written about Thomas Mapfumo. I think let us get proper records which will assist us and those who want to write the history of Zimbabwe will refer to all that compiled information verbatim as given by those involved and collaborated by those who were watching from the sidelines. Thank you very much.
*HON. CHIKUKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to
support this Bill. I am supporting everything which has been said here. However there is the issue of war collaborators and detainees.
People were saying we need to have categories. The war collaborators did not have guns and I should say they were more vulnerable than those with guns because they could not protect themselves as they were attacked and killed. Those who were 12 or 13 years were just there to carry food but they could not defend themselves. It is good that those people should be looked at. In other countries it is not only about money. If government has money it can give them but it is up to this law. They can be given farms or other things which can take care of them. They need something which will take care of them in life. We were talking about writing the history which is important because people will know what happened. Today we are talking about Rhodes and not about our war veterans and collaborators. There are people who were detained before the war but we do not have that history and some of them died in prisons. This Bill should mention those who died before the war because they also were activists before the war. I thank you.
+HON. R. MPOFU: I also want to add my views on the war veterans Bill. Madam Speaker, we can continue to speak but time is moving. If we go back and look at what war veterans contributed to this country you may at the end of it all cry. Even though I did not see some of those but in spirit I realise how those people faced difficulties during that time. These issues need to be addressed and have this Bill passed on time so that these people get something to enable the survival of their families. Right now there are some people that cannot manage to get basic things for their families because of stress. If you do not get what you are supposed to be getting as a bread winner you realise that you lose that respect from your family. For example – bread winners especially fathers in families who do not get enough money cannot get their families going. The war veterans contributed immensely to our freedom. If we did not have war veterans’ contributions we would not be in this House. I would like to thank all Members in both Houses because I have never heard any one of them disagreeing with each other on this issue because we all understand and agree as to the contributions that these war veterans made for this country. Right now if a war veteran passes on, their widow instead of getting the contribution that the late war veteran was getting that amount is reduced. Most of those people are aged and when they die, normally we say that money should be given to the remaining widow or the surviving children who are below 18years. However if we look at how many of those people have children below the age of 18 we realise that most of those people no longer have those children that are below 18. If maybe both the wife and husband are late and there is a child who is above 18, it means that the heroship is dead. Why do we not sit down and look at this issue as
Government and help each other so that the words ‘War Veterans’ continue instead of dying so that whoever is remaining from the War Veterans family gets something, be it a farm or anything that is supposed to benefit this family. I can say a lot but Madam Speaker, all I can say is my wish is to have this Bill passed early.
Right now, there are other people that are saying that there are some people who are called War Veterans who did not even fight. All I can say is that in this country, no one was going to be fighting alone but people had to unite in order to win this fight. Those people who were out there fighting were working hand in glove with the other people who had remained in their homes. Those are the people that were helping these war veterans by cooking for them, sewing clothes for them and other things. Therefore, we need to know that these people worked hand in glove with those who had remained.
I would like to mention some of the issues that were said by the previous speakers who were saying we need to respect these people especially those who died outside the country where we do not even know where they were buried. We need to make sure that we look after their families and make sure that we contribute to the upbringing of their remaining families and make sure that those that we know where they were buried but were not well properly, we need to make sure that we rebury them Madam Speaker Ma’am. I cannot continue with my contribution because most of the things have been aired earlier on. All I am asking for is to have this Bill passed on time.
I would also want to add my point on the issue of putting a female to lead the Ministry of Defence because this country was not only fought for by men only but by women as well. Therefore, in putting a female figure up there, we feel honoured as women. Thank you Hon. Members for showing that all of us are in agreement with this Bill. Madam Speaker Ma’am, the contributions that they are getting are not enough and that is their salaries. We need to make sure that we look into this issue because our economy is not performing well as we speak and what they are getting is not enough to fend for their families.
Right now, we are faced with this Covid- 19 pandemic and we need to make sure that we work together as Hon. Members to make sure that this Bill is passed on time so that our fellow members get something to fend for their families. Thank you very much.
HON. CHINANZVAVANA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for
giving me the time to add my voice to this important Bill. Unfortunately, I will not speak for long because all the points that have been itching in my heart to say something about have been highlighted by the previous speakers. Save to say that, if the Hon. Minister could take note of the glaring gap of the post humous gratuity to the fallen liberation war veterans – those sons and daughters of the struggle who never made it back home. It is highly commendable that we are now taking cognisance of what the War
Veterans did in order to liberate us as a country and looking into their welfare – those that are surviving. But Hon. Speaker, there is an issue of those that never came back home. If we may at least have recognition for them by maybe having a roll of honour at a central place in the nation or a War Veterans Museum where we will have all the names of those on the roll of honour for those who went to the war just listed. It will be very valuable to their families by just knowing that we are recognised; that our farther, our mother, our aunt served Zimbabwe in such a special honour – if we can simply list them. In the villages, they are known because every village or every family knows of their son or daughter who went to Mozambique or Zambia but never came back but their hearts are bleeding because nobody is saying anything about them like they do not matter. If we can look into that, we need to also give them their due respect. Thank you.
*HON. MASHONGANYIKA: Thank you Madam Speaker for
giving me this opportunity to debate on this War Veterans Bill. Let me say, in our country Zimbabwe and some of us Hon. Members of Parliament are saying that a war veteran is not recognised. Let me tell you that a war veteran is recognised. When the War Veteran went to war, they did not go there from nowhere but went there coming from
a home where there are kraal heads. If you go to all kraal heads in rural areas, they will tell you that we have two children who went to war and they know them. If you go to kraal heads, they will tell you that we have children who did not come back from the war, those who were buried were two and three are not known where they are. So, looking for war veterans is not difficult, you can get them.
Hon. Speaker, a person called a War Veteran and I want this to be included in our Bill and we look at it very closely that everyone who left his home, leaving his parents to go to the war and fought in the war is a war veteran. They held the gun and in the war we had division of labour. Some came back home as fighters and some were fighting outside and others were looking for food for the comrades. So, everyone who participated is a war veteran. We say that everyone who participated is a war veteran, those who were receiving war veterans and doing all sorts of things to help are war veterans because we were not going to win the war without war collaborators. Let me say they are people who were arrested for political activism and they are known. These people are war veterans, they fought for this country, let us recognise them. We have people who died in the war; this must be included in the Bill. Let us look at the origin of that person to see if left parents who are still grieving. Those parents need assistance that will make the parent grateful that his child participated in the war.
Let me say among the war veterans, when a war veteran dies, the history is forgotten. I want the Bill to recognise war veterans and write their history and people will read about their lives. People must have knowledge that these people fought for the country and that now we are free because of them. We are seeing other people commenting saying that our country has no money. They are saying the country has no money but we see a lot of corruption taking place; people building glass houses using public funds. The funds are being taken by a few but now if we want to assist war veterans; it is said there is no money.
We must correct that in our Bill. Let us make sure that the war collaborators and war veterans are given appropriate benefits. We are saying that war veterans are old and I am one of the war veterans. I went to war and I was a nurse and I trained under a tree. We came back here to assist our parents with the knowledge that we gained in the liberation struggle. People say a lot of things about war veterans, they do not respect them. War veterans need respect as they fought the war of liberation and they brought something that made the whole country happy.
We sacrificed our lives, we had a lot of lice in our heads, and it was not easy. As war veterans, we are happy to see people living peacefully. War veterans are also benefiting from farms and mining but those who did not go to war, if they receive these things, they forget to give a portion to war veterans. People do not want to give a share to war veterans in mining. In this Bill, we must assist war veterans by giving them the means of production because they fought for this country. Children of war veterans can carry on the history of war veterans. Some of the children are in this Parliament. War veterans must be supported in terms of education and be given jobs. They also need to be empowered. I was thinking that this provision be made but because of sanctions, we do not have money, we are being punished for reclaiming our land. I am saying that in this Bill, we must include war veterans who are poor, we have to uplift the building of houses for them, we need to provide them with shelter, and they cannot keep on staying in bushes like what they were doing in the war.
War veterans should be respected. We said this during COPAC that we need medals that can identify war veterans. We want this to be included in the Bill so that is easy to identify war veterans through their medals. These medals will be showing that they fought in the liberation struggle. I thank you.
HON. MUSANHI: I thought it very important that I add my voice to this very important Bill. Madam Speaker, in order for us to be free and to be where we are in this Parliament, it was because of the very important people who actually went out to fight for the country to remove the discrimination that was there and the oppression that was taking place that time. Madam Speaker, in order for people to qualify to vote, there was sort of vetting that used to take place. That vetting could only qualify to some very few people. The way that vetting was done, it was being done in a way that discriminates the poor people which were the blacks. So, the process of going to war actually rescued us and gave us a lot of our freedom that we enjoy today. Madam Speaker, if it were not for the freedom fighters who sacrificed to go to war so that as Zimbabweans could unite as black people and be able to vote to conquer the white man. The White man was discriminating the black man because of the wealthy that was there. The white man used to say you cannot vote when we do not know your balance sheet. If your balance sheet is poor, you are not allowed to vote because you have got nothing to vote for.
All that was removed because of the war veterans that went to war. Madam Speaker, when I was a small boy - there is a toilet that is in Baker Avenue; the name of the road that time (now Jason Moyo), the underground toilet. I actually went there not knowing that this toilet is for whites only. I went in there and when I was about to get out I was beaten at the door by some white radicals. Discrimination was the order of the day but all that was alleviated by our brothers and sisters who went to fight for this country.
Madam Speaker, a lot of facts have been mentioned here but I would like to emphasise on one point that I think someone mentioned. That point must be noted. I feel the blood of our brothers that perished in Mozambique and Zambia must be appreciated and I think that must be recognised not to say because they did not come back home then we realise that those who are here are the most important than those who perished in the bush.
I must also say to war veterans this does not need us to be selfish at all. We also want to be able to quantify. Those of our brothers who perished outside, I think some of us know and we have got history and we know the whole list of people who perished outside and I think it does not need us to be a bit selfish at all. We need to assist and be able to help those families with deceased people who went to war. I think on that Madam Speaker Ma’am, I thank you because a lot of things have been said and I cannot keep on repeating something that has been said before.
*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Madam Speaker. People have
been feeding themselves, forgetting others. I am looking at the issue where you are just giving money. Why are you not giving property because money can be finished but if you build a house or you give one a farm where he can do irrigation, that person would be better off. Those who fought in World War I and World War II were given assets - but money because of inflation is not useful. If you give one $1 000 today, tomorrow it will be useless.
Those who fought in the liberation struggle should get specialised treatment if they are sick. Taking them outside the country for treatment like what is done to the top officials. People are being treated like at Murambinda Hospital. Why are you not taking them outside where there is medicine? These people fought for rights but we see them being tear gassed. They were demonstrating peacefully. This is what they fought for. They wanted to be allowed to demonstrate, but now they are being tear gassed for exercising what they fought for. Those who beat up war veterans or tear gas war veterans should be charged because you are abusing someone who fought that you can wear your suits and sit here and now you are tear gassing them. That is very bad.
Let war veterans not belong to political parties. They should be national people that even if governments change they keep on being respected. However, if you say that they have to belong to ZANU PF, if the government changes are they going to be respected? We should not use our war veterans as weapons, they should be treated as national figures.
*HON. NHARI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I want to add my voice on this debate on war veterans. War veterans went through a very difficult time during the war and when they came back, they continued to suffer more than what they went through during the war.
Some found their families disintegrated and they had nowhere to go. Some of the war veterans are in streets. They are now like mad people and some people are mocking them that they killed people during the war but that is not the case. These people, when they came back they were stressed and ended up being mad.
War veterans need to be respected. They should get what they fought for. Most of them had their families killed. If a parent was known to have a child who had gone to war, the parent was killed. In this Bill we should recognise war veterans. We are very sorry for our people who always say that the country should be colonized again and we free it. Those words are painful to war veterans. You are happy today in this House because war veterans liberated this country.
People who say such kinds of things are sell outs. Thank you.
*HON. J. SITHOLE: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Things we are talking about here - we have war veterans in this House, whenever we talk about this issue people start to think about what they went through during the war. This means up to today the work which the war veterans did is still relevant among our people.
In my constituency we lost two children who were hit by land mines left during the liberation struggle. Those kinds of things remind people of the war. It is so painful because the war veterans did a very important job. In this country if someone works, if he does not get a bonus they think of demonstrating, but there are some people who up to today were not given anything, but these are the people who made sure that people get bonuses.
We have had four groups of war liberators, there is one called the non-combatant cadre and some do not really understand what that means. During the war, we did not just go and obtain a gun but the leadership determined and gave everyone their responsibilities. This is what we did until the war ended. Some were teachers, nurses, builders and so on. Some went to war as professional people who have already obtained a qualification but when they came back they were not given anything. Those people do not cause any problem because they were taught to be disciplined.
During the war we said we were fighting a war on two fronts and when you were outside you were fighting a war and within the country it was also a fight for the liberation of the country. During that time, there was no difference, everyone was a comrade and we did not recognise someone by their tribe or origin to say they come from Bulawayo or Harare. We treated each other equally. The people who went to war and failed to come back; it is a very big issue which needs to be addressed. Those people have to be known; for example last week on Wednesday a certain woman came to me and grieved saying; ‘we were seven in our family and I am the only one left as the other went to war and never came back.’ She was crying kneeling before me. People feel the pain of war veterans who went to war and perished there and never came back. Thank you Madam Speaker.
*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I
also want to add my voice on this Bill being debated. I also heard from our parents who fought in the liberation struggle who were sometimes sidelined because they chose to support the opposition party. My request is that a clause be provided for on that Bill to protect war veterans who should be given respect or honour because they participated in the liberation struggle. It will not be good if that person is refused the honour of being a war veteran or regarded in future as a sell-out simply because they have a different opinion. The Bill should protect the honour of war veterans because they earn the honour for participating in the liberation struggle. They should get the right to voice their view against the Government in case the
If we were to look at what happened in the past, there was a time when war veterans went on to demonstrate at the Minister of
Finance and Economic Development’s office complaining about the allowances they were being given. If war veterans intend to demonstrate against corruption or any ills in this country, they should be given protection by the law instead of them worrying about that honour if they think of joining any political party such as the MDC Alliance.
The other thing is, I would like to support the view that the Bill should have a provision where the Government should keep records. I request that since the Minister is still here, there should be museums all over the country and not only in Harare, where people can learn about the liberation struggle within their localities, in their districts and not only to wait to travel to Harare. This should include Rushinga District where Hon. Nyabani comes from, they should be able to get that information instead of limiting people in the rural areas who have to travel long distances to acquire that knowledge.
Looking at the use of technology these days, information should also be accessed through the use of technology such as the internet.
This should be accessed even by those who might have been born in
Britain. This is my view; may this Bill address such issues Madam Speaker. I thank you.
An Hon. Member having stood up to debate.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you will get your chance at the Committee Stage.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR
VETERANS (HON. MATEMADANDA): Thank you Madam
Speaker. Hon. Members have been speaking in many languages, I will also try to respond in those languages. Firstly, they wanted to know how a war veteran is known or identified - I happen to have a chance to work close to the administration of both ZIPRA and ZANLA. The first thing that happened when someone went to war was the write-up to what was known as three check-ups. I think the comrades in this House know what it means to say three check-ups – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] – I have a lot of things that I should respond to and I will not be patient to waste time. The question of whether one is a war veteran or not is an interest of those who did not contribute but are seeking relevance where it is not called for. I think it is a waste of time kuti mwana anogona kumuka pamba oti, ‘Ava havasi baba vangu’, iwe wonetsana nemwana kuti ndiri baba vako chete! So, mawar veterans whether munhu asangana naye anoda kumuti war veteran kana kuti haadi – hazvichinje status.
So, that is a non event and non issue kuti vanhu vanoti zvakati –
[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
The vetting process Madam Speaker is that war veterans are not vetted in the streets or by just anyone who thinks they want to know. A commission is sworn according to the laws of this land to carryout vetting. Once that is done – it becomes legal but we know people who do not want to be bound by law. I do not think we have to debate that but it is on record that there are some people who think that if any judgment goes against them – they will not accept.
On medals Madam Speaker, the process of giving medals to war veterans has been on since 1980 but unfortunately, it needs people to be identified and certified that they are war veterans, their category and then they are awarded medals but the process is on-going - it is there.
They also spoke about people being said to be war veterans today and when they are out of a certain political party, they are said not to be war veterans. Here we have got to deal with the definition of a war veteran. There is a requirement at law in defining a war veteran. There is a question of consistence and persistence. I am talking about what the law provides, I am not amending a
Constitution here of definition of a war veteran. So the question of consistence and persistence is what deals with the status conferred on a war veteran and this comes from a Constitution that we crafted together as Zimbabweans. It did not come from the Lancaster House Constitution where many people did not participate.
There is also a contribution about …
HON. TSUNGA: On a point of order Madam Speaker!
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Minister.
What is your point of order Hon. Member?
HON. TSUNGA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. It is
just for the Hon. Minister to clarify whether or not there is a distinction between a liberation war hero and war veteran. I think there is some king of confusion here between a war veteran and a liberation war hero in terms of how we define the two – for purposes of burial, you have a hero and for purposes of this Bill, I think we are talking about a veteran of the liberation war or struggle. So, can there be that distinction so that we are clear at the outset. I thank you.
HON. MATEMADANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The
classification of a hero is a process. Every war veteran you see here has a hero status already. So, it is that hero status that demands someone to be consistent and persistent. Well, if there is anyone complaining about the law maybe they can talk to the Leader of the House so that, that section is amended but I just thought that Hon. Members should know that when there are queries about declaration – people will be looking at the question of persistence and consistence.
The question of war veterans who died before being vetted – unfortunately, this can be a bit controversial because it is only the former ZAPU and former ZANU that can vouch for a person who died before Independence - I do not want to be misquoted here. So, I do not know who if not ZAPU or ZANU (PF) can vouch for a liberation war veteran who died before being vetted, kana musina kunzwa mozondibvunza nechiShona ndokuudzai. So, nyaya inoitika
Madam Speaker ndeye kuti …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon.
Minister, please may you use one language so that it is easier for those who are recording.
HON. MATEMADANDA: Thank you but I thought I had
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
HON. MATEMADANDA: I know the comrade that Hon.
Gabbuza was talking about. I visited him and he does a lot of fishing in the Kamativi Dam. I know him and have visited him.
War veterans on the land issue – that is very true. Most have been removed from farms by people who work in offices and who we perceive do not support the liberation process.
Selective burial on war veterans – that is just a question of information. I come from Gokwe, if I decide to go and be away from other war veterans – they may not know that I am sick. It is good when Hon. Members see that war veterans are sick and they report to the correct structure so that assistance is rendered because without communication surely, there is no way that they can be helped but a law is there to support the burial of veterans of the liberation struggle.
Hon. Gabbuza also spoke about a war veteran who died at Cross Dete. I went there but it was late, it was the same problem on information. There is a question of those who died outside the country – I think that this is up to Hon. Members or maybe the Leader of the House can guide us because I think that during the outreach and the debates that were done – this was not covered. We have been speaking about it it and if it is not late, we can be guided. Mujibha /chimbwido, exdetainee, non- combatant cadre are all war veterans but in different categories. This is why we refer to them all as veterans of the liberation struggle but in four categories. However, it must be very clear that they are all veterans of the liberation struggle.
It is true that what has been said by the Hon. Member that she went to war and got trained as a nurse and contributed. It is unfortunate that people want to understand war veterans or the definition of war veteran in their own liking. For example, if you look at the Ministry of Defence today, you will see that every government department you see has got some mirror in the Ministry of Defence or in the army because when soldiers go to war, they need clothing, food, laundry, et cetera. These special duties are not done by people who are not part of the force. It is unfortunate that people think that when they want to talk about a war veteran, they want to talk about a person they saw in Chendambuya. Also, people that were in the liberation struggle were over 100 000 and I do not know a person with a scientific mind more than a computer who can memorise a face that they saw. This war was fought and won on different fronts. Some war veterans became ambassadors, for example Cde. Kasikayi Patiripakashata, who formed his own party.
He was an ambassador somewhere. A lot of comrades participated in those ways. You cannot say I did not see them. Some people pretend to know a lot of things, “comrade anofanira kuziva assembly point.” Assembly point was the last station to get home, which anyone could have entered “achitobva anywhere.” An assembly point cannot be a defining point for a war veteran.
Finally, many people have spoken about comrades having records. I think they are referring to auto-biography. There is no war veteran without that; we are not inventing a wheel here. From the point a comrade joined the liberation struggle, a history of the liberation started and it is documented – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] – “Ndati 3 check ups.” Madam Speaker, there is history of the liberation struggle that belongs to the people of the liberation, which cannot be given to people without anything to do with the liberation. The records that were kept during the time of war may not have interest with people that were opposing the war. I thank you.
HON. HAMAUSWA: On a point of order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of
*HON. HAMAUSWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My point
of order is that there are some genuine requests that we put across to the Minister so that those records may be availed for posterity purposes so that future generations may be able to read and know the records of those who participated in the liberation struggle. However, it looks like the Minister is suggesting that it is not important because the children did not participate in the liberation struggle. We are saying those records should be availed for posterity purposes. That is our request. The Minister should stop acting as if this debate is about arguing and pulling in opposite direction. That should be made to refine the history of the liberation struggle in this country so that even someone who comes from outside the country may be able to follow that history. If he thinks it is against those who participated in the liberation struggle, he is mistaken. Thank you.
*HON. MATEMADANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The
Hon. Member has mixed up issues. The issue that I said cannot be brought into this House is the issue of the 3 check ups. I said, the history of the liberation struggle from the day a person joins the liberation struggle is on record. Every commander had the records of the cadres so that if a commander loses a cadre, they were able to report where that cadre came from. The other thing is, not everyone is gifted about writing books on the liberation struggle. Anyone who wants to write on the liberation struggle is welcome, regardless of which political party they belong to. That is exactly the kind of thinking that we want. Some Hon. Members here said some war veterans were not able to go to school because of the war. Everyone who feels like writing the liberation struggle history is welcome and can approach any of the war veterans for information. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON ZIYAMBI): I move that the
Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: Thursday, 18th June, 2020.
On the Motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) the House adjourned
at Thirteen Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.