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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 30 MARCH 2023 VOL 49 NO 33
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 30th March, 2023
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE ACTING. SPEAKER in the Chair)
*HON. MPARIWA: This is the month we commemorate women, so I want to start by congratulating Hon. Speaker for sailing through the primary elections. We hope you will also excel during the forthcoming general elections.
My point of national interest regards girl-children who were receiving sanitary pads from the Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The problem is there seems to be a shortage of the pads and some of the young girls in the rural areas are now using cow dung and sadza. I really wanted to ask the Minister about this issue yesterday but unfortunately the substantive Minister was not around. How can we then assist to ensure the free provision of sanitary pads to the girl-child in rural areas and to continue to ensure that the dignity and self-confidence of the girl-child is maintained?
*THE ACTING SPEAKER (HON. DR. MAVETERA): I think that issue is under the purview of the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. It is important that the Minister comes to this House and explain to this august House the Government plan or policy. Is your request for a Ministerial Statement or what?
*HON. MPARIWA: Yes, Madam Speaker, may the Minister come and explain to us their plan with regards to ensuring that this programme continues. Indeed, I also request that all these relevant ministries should be involved in addressing this issue so that we know their plan going forward in terms of sourcing for funding. I know you are also a member of the Pan-African Parliament and we do not want to be an embarrassment. We want to restore the dignity of the girl-child.
*THE ACTING SPEAKER: I believe the Minister of Education will bring that Ministerial Statement because it is very important.
*HON. TOGAREPI: I rise on a point of national interest. Looking at the rain pattern in this country, this season I visited several places which were holding field days and saw a lot of success in terms of agriculture. My plea is, can Government start preparing right now where the farmers will sell their produce and how they can safely keep the grain before it is procured by middlemen who reap off farmers. I would be very glad if the Minister of Agriculture can give us a plan on what they are going to do in terms of procuring this produce in terms of the buying price instead of letting unscrupulous dealers purchase all the grain and leave people starving. May the Minister of Agriculture come and explain, and give us the producer price or has the Minister done so already. That is very important for the farmer to be able to plan for next season as well as ensuring that they get adequate funding to proceed with their business. It is very important for Government to safeguard this yield and it is a very plausible thing that we got such a good yield.
HON. NDUNA: My point of national interest is as identified and defined by the Auditor-General in the Auditor-General’s Report, in particular in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Yours truly chairs the sub-Committee on Public Accounts on Local Authorities. With the pace at which we are moving, I do not see us tabling the report before close of this session. Therefore, I make a clarion call that if it pleases you, if we can get the Minister of Local Government and Minister of Finance to come to this House and say how they are going to mitigate the issue of the deficit of water.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report, more than 50% of water is none revenue water and there is less than 20% water provision in local authorities where there is a deficit in terms of water treatment at the treatment, where there are clarifiers and sedimenters before the water is churned out to the residents. Would it please you to get the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Local Government and National Housing to come into this House and maybe share with this House or even give a Ministerial Statement as to how to augment and complement the current clarifiers and sedimenters which formulate part of the water treatment plant in order that there is optimum water that is produced for the betterment and good order of the citizens.
Where I come from, there is supposed to be 22 mega litres that are supposed to be consumed but there are less than 10 mega litres that are treated. What then gets to the end user is three mega litres because of a disused and deplorable state of the infrastructure and the deficit in terms of the water treatment. This is quite urgent, just and right for the people to get clean and potable drinking water through the rejuvenation and rehabilitation of and augmentation of our water treatment plants. I pray.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Nduna, we are going to refer it to the Ministry of Local Government and I am sure if ever there are any cases that need to be referred to the Ministry of Finance, they would then be able to follow suit. We will ask the Minister of Local Government to bring a Ministerial Statement to that effect.
*HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to raise this matter of national importance. Hon. Speaker, the last few days, the Deputy Chief Secretary and Presidential spokesperson Mr. George Charamba issued a chilling threat to the media fraternity in respect to the exposé of the Aljazeera gold issues...
HON. TOGAREPI: The Presidential spokesperson is not in Parliament, so let us not talk about what we see on social media in this House.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Speaker, some of the warnings that have been given to the media fraternity reminds us of the warning that was given by the then Minister of Information, one Jonathan Moyo, which resulted in the bombing of The Daily News. Yesterday, we were waiting for the Minister of Information and Publicity but unfortunately, she did not come in. Our view is that this is an important issue and a matter that shall make Zimbabwe to be painted black. We want the relevant Minister to come before this august House and explain whether or not our own government is now no longer committed to the freedom of press. What has happened is actually a threat of the highest magnitude and that is why the Minister should come to this House and give us a statement.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mushoriwa, please may you pose your question to the Hon. Minister when he comes.
*HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker, the issue that I have is very important here in Zimbabwe. Most people survive through buying and selling, especially those people in Magaba. There is nothing else that can make them survive besides buying and selling. I want to talk about the main road coming from town through Magaba going towards Remembrance Drive. That road has been closed for eight months and there is no explanation why it is closed. Everyday there are police officers waiting to enforce closure of that road and this is causing a lot of congestion. There is a council workshop inside that area and people cannot access that workshop because of the closure. Nothing is happening on that road. It is not even being repaired or maintained. If you pass through that road you smell teargas and at times if you are unfortunate you see people running away from teargas canisters. No-one knows why that road is closed but speculations are that maybe allocation of stands in Mupedzanhamo market could be the problem. So, there is no clear explanation to date. What is most painful is that we have not dedicated the police to arrest thugs and thieves harassing and stealing from people as well as those involved in corrupt activities but we can afford to dedicate about 20 officers on that closed road.
Parliament passes the Home Affairs budget so that they can use the funds to protect the country. I appeal to you Madam Speaker to have the Minister of Local Government here and give us a ministerial statement pertaining to that issue. - [HON.TOGAREPI: Inaudible interjection.]- Hon. Togarepi, that is why you nearly lost your constituency because your interjections are not reasonable.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Madzimure, please stick to the issue you are debating on. We do not jest with each other when we are in this House.
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I implore the Minister of Local Government to come and explain why this major road is closed. It causes congestion when going in and out of town. People are now using longer routes because of this closure and cars are even using a one-way road as if it is a two-way road to try and get to Magaba where most of our entrepreneurs are housed. I am sure you are aware that on a daily basis, about $10 million dollars exchange hands in Magaba; it is a major economic hub of this country. So we need to take proper care of that place as all entrepreneurship starts there. All the equipment that we use is made and found in Magaba. If there is anything that needs to be fixed, let it be done. If it is council’s mandate, the Minister should speak to council to fix things. We cannot call councillors or the Mayor into this House. I thank you.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member. We will ask the Minister to come and give an explanation to the House.
HON. S. SITHOLE: Madam Speaker, my plea is for the Hon. Minister of Lands to come and address this House on the criteria used to give people the hectarage that they have. I understand the concept of one man one farm but if you look at Open Chemise farm, it is 65 000 ha yet people are struggling to have farms and land. I have 140 ha and there is no reason why after 43 years of independence, we should have one person with such a large hectarage. Can the Minister please come and give us an explanation on that issue? I thank you.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Sithole, this is a specific question specific to the 65 000ha farm, may you put it in writing and send it to Papers Office so that it is put on the Questions With Notice.
HON. S. SITHOLE: The Minister must come and tell us those who are having more than even that number of hectares.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: You should put it in writing since it is a specific question, which needs more detail and research on it. Send it to Papers Office and it is put on the Questions With Notice.
HON. S. SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. TOGAREPI: Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 13 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 14 has been disposed of.
HON. MPARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE, HOME AFFAIRS AND SECURITY SERVICES ON THE BENCHMARK VISIT TO NAMIBIA ON WELFARE OF VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE
HON. NGULUVHE: Madam Speaker, I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the Benchmark visit to Namibia on welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle from 18th to 24th September, 2022.
HON. NDUNA: I second.
1.1 The Portfolio Committee on Defense, Home Affairs and Security Services conducted a benchmarking visit to Namibia from the 18th to the 24th of September 2022. The purpose of the benchmark visit was largely to understand the laws and institutions in place to address the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle in Namibia. Furthermore, the benchmark visit sought to appreciate the challenges, benefits and empowerment programmes in place for veterans of the liberation struggle in Namibia as well as learn best practices that can be adopted for the Zimbabwean situation. The Zimbabwean delegation comprised of the following: Hon Levi Mayihlome, Chairperson; Hon Lindani Moyo; Hon Annah Rungani; Hon Jonah Sewera; Hon Sicelesile Mahlangu; Hon Joseph Chinotimba; Hon Sonny Mguni; Hon Albert Nguluvhe; Mr. Pensel Marunga, Committee Clerk and Ms. Angeline Gutu, Committee Researcher,
2.1 The delegation engaged the following stakeholders; Hon Professor Loide Kasingo, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Namibia; Hon Leevi Katoma, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security, Hon Members of the Standing Committee Defence and Security of the National Assembly of Namibia; Hon Hilma Nicanor, Deputy Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs of Namibia and her officials; the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association War Veterans as well as the former People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) that was the former military wing of the South West People’s Organisation (SWAPO).
The Committee also had an opportunity to visit the museum of Independence and the National Shrine which depict the history of the liberation struggle of Namibia. Furthermore, the Committee met officials serving at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Namibia.
3.0 Committee Findings
3.1 The Legal Framework Governing the Welfare of War Veterans in Namibia Veterans of the Liberation Struggle of Namibia are recognized under the Veterans Act of 2008 which was later amended in 2013. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs was established in October 2006. In 2020, the Veterans Affairs portfolio was placed under the Ministry of Defence. The law lays out that not all persons who participated in the war of liberation in Namibia are regarded as veterans of the liberation struggle. Section 27 of the Act defines a veteran as someone who was a member of the liberation forces, provided he or she was above the age of 18 when the country gained independence in 1990.
Anyone who was below the age of 18 at the time of independence is not considered a veteran. The Act further cites historical events that one should be associated with in order to be regarded as a veteran. For example, the Cassinga Massacre of 1978, which is similar to Nyadzonia in Mozambique; those who were captured at Chetequera (Vietnam Base); political prisoners and detainees of the period 1959 to March 1990; those persons who were detained or accused during the Pretoria Trial among others. It is important to note that persons who participated in the war, but gave up before the war ended are not considered veterans. However, such persons will receive a token of appreciation, provided they did not work with the enemy before the country won independence.
They should also be closely associated with the key events leading to Namibia gaining independence. 3.2 In the Zimbabwean case, veterans of the liberation struggle fall within four distinct categories as enshrined in sections 23 and 84 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number20) of 2013. Section 2 and 3 of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) enlists the four categories as follows: a. a liberation war fighter (war veteran) b. an ex-political prisoner, detainee or restrictee, a person who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation, that is, (i) a war collaborator or (ii) a non-combatant cadre. It is worth noting that legislation in the two countries recognise and provide for dependents of veterans of the liberation struggle as follows: the spouse, widow or widower and children of registered veterans including step children. However, the Namibian legislation extends assistance to dependents with disability who are or were wholly dependent on registered veterans. In terms of the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle, both countries’ legal frameworks provide for the establishment of a veterans’ board and fund responsible for implementing social and economic programs designed to benefit freedom fighters and their dependents. The Acts administering the welfare of veterans in the two countries are similar in scope in many respects with differences arising mainly on the implementation aspect.
4.0 Government’s Response to Concerns of War Veterans.
4.1 Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs
4.2 In Namibia, the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs is responsible for the welfare of war veterans and their dependents. Its mandate is to provide social and economic support to veterans to enable them to engage in sustainable initiatives and improve their livelihood. It is also the Ministry’s responsibility to keep the values of the national liberation struggle alive. Some of the activities conducted by the Ministry include the following:
4.3 Registration of War Veterans
By the time of the benchmark visit, the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs of Namibia had registered a total of 30 050 veterans and forty percent of them were women. There is a Veterans Board that does the vetting of the veterans. This process is critical in that it determines the kind of benefit that one would be entitled to. In Zimbabwe, more than 160 000 war veterans, war collaborators, ex-political prisoners and detainees were vetted between March and August 2022 in line with the new Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act. This number adds on to about 50 000 war veterans who benefitted from the first round of compensation in 1997. The vetting exercise included veterans within and those in the diaspora.
4.4 Financial Assistance
The Ministry offers financial assistance to war veterans in three ways: a once-off gratuity, the monthly financial assistance and the Improvement of Welfare Grant. Firstly, the once off gratuity is payable to every veteran regardless of their employment status. This is categorized based on the time period that one spent in the armed struggle. For veterans that served between 1959 and 1987, they receive a gratuity of N$50 000 (US$2889) while those who served between the period 1988 to 1989 receive a gratuity of N$20 000 (USD$1343). The second financial assistance is a monthly pension benefit of N$2 200 (US$147) This is only paid to veterans who are unemployed or whose annual income is below N$36 000 (US$2417). The benefit can be inherited by a surviving spouse and children below 18 years. However, in the event that the spouse remarries, the pension will cease. The third financial benefit, is a grant paid to Ex-PLAN combatants, particularly those who were trained militarily and deployed in a military related environment as well as political prisoners from Robben Island and Kai/Ganaxab. This grant is given in addition to other financial benefits.
In the Zimbabwean context and following the enactment of the new all-encompassing legislation on the welfare of veterans, registered veterans are entitled to a once-off gratuity prescribed by the Minister in addition to various other economic and social benefits. A basic pension premised on an indexation framework that ensures that the monthly pension increases automatically whenever the salaries and allowances of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are adjusted shall be implemented so that it applies to all eligible categories of veterans of the liberation struggle.
4.5 Housing Programme
The Namibian Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs has a housing scheme, which is aimed at providing decent accommodation to homeless, disabled or elderly veterans who do not own standard houses. A committee was established to ascertain the eligibility of an applicant to receive the housing benefit based on the degree of need of shelter. The house is offered to the veteran after receiving a certificate of nomination. The veteran has to stay in the house for a period of 15 years and thereafter he or she can choose to dispose of that house. Several veterans had benefited from the program and there were others who are still on the waiting list.
Zimbabwe’s legislation on the welfare of veterans requires that twenty percent of gazetted land for economic development as well as for residential purposes be set aside for veterans. Through the twenty percent policy, veterans will have access to residential stands. Unlike in Namibia, development of the property is left to the individual beneficiary. More-so, access to the benefit is open to all veterans regardless of one’s employment or socio-economic status.
Indeed, the Namibian housing scheme is worth considering as it ensures that those veterans who are vulnerable and impoverished are attended to first. This actually augers well with the ‘no-one should be left behind’ mantra echoed alongside the Zimbabwe’s development agenda for an upper middle-class economy by 2030.
4.6 Health and Pyscho-social Support Services
There are pyscho-social support services offered to veterans. The services also include spiritual counselling where the Ministry looks for faith based organisations to assist the veterans. On medical services, the Government assists veterans to get medical services at Government institutions and where necessary, the veteran will be referred to a private health facility at Government’s expense.
In the Zimbabwean context, the medical benefit is accessible to veterans and their dependents at government hospitals. Where it calls for treatment to be accessed in private medical institutions, beneficiaries can be referred to such institutions at the recommendation of the implementing Ministry.
It is in the area of specific psycho-social support that needs more attention in both countries. While in Namibia they have a better decentralised support system than in Zimbabwe, there were concerns that some veterans were still suffering from the trauma of the liberation struggle. They suggested that centres for specific psychosocial support be increased and specialists or experts be hired to offer such services that include counselling Notwithstanding the crucial role played by existing organized community and health systems and foster groups, specific activities and centres designed and established for veterans traumatized by war were suggested to be more helpful.
4.7 Education Grants
In Namibia, war veterans are assisted to get education and skills training for as long as they are alive. The educational facility extends to any discipline and is not bound by time. Dependents of war veterans also benefit from this educational facility but it is restricted up to the first degree.
In the Zimbabwean context, veterans and their children are entitled to education benefits at government schools. In the event of attending private institutions, educational benefits that are equal in amount to the fees payable at state institutions are paid for them. Children undertaking university or college studies abroad benefit from the same educational grant.
4.8 Empowerment Projects
Individual veterans in Namibia are assisted financially to venture into economic activities of their choice. The Ministry gives a grant of up to N$200 000 (US$13 431), and the money used to be paid directly to the service providers. Some of the projects ventured into by veterans were in farming, transport and other commercial activities. The Ministry has funded more than 10 000 projects. However, the veterans complained that they were getting old and did not have the energy to run some of these projects. At the same time, only a few projects were successful. The Ministry acknowledged that the veterans were facing a number of challenges in making their projects viable due to factors such as health, age and lack of skills to manage the projects. A decision was then made by Government to convert the grant into cash of N$170 000 (US$11 416). Thus, the veterans now have an option to access the grant in cash and currently work is underway to process applications made by the veterans.
Zimbabwe’s Part III of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act (Chapter 17:12) provides for schemes and a fund for the veterans of the liberation struggle. In addition to schemes already highlighted, the Act, like in Namibia establishes a fund accessible to veterans whose main objective is to provide financial resources to empower veterans and their dependents. Through the fund, Government is committed to ensuring the operalisation of the empowerment programs through a holding company, the Veterans Investment Corporation. Subsidiaries of the holding company will hold and manage assets in tourism, agriculture, mining and health. A banking institution for veterans is part and parcel of the empowerment scheme. Furthermore, the empowerment drive is also being delivered through the implementation of the twenty percent quota policy which entitles veterans of the liberation struggle to twenty percent of all economic projects undertaken by government.
4.9 Land Resettlement
The Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs of Namibia assists landless veterans to get land under the country’s resettlement program. The acquisition of land is critical as it enables the veterans to carry out economic activities such as animal husbandry. The veterans are given an option to choose an area where they would like to be resettled, either in the communal or commercial area.
In the case of Zimbabwe, a number of veterans benefited from the Land Reform Programme since its inception. Realising that there are some veterans who do not have land, the new legislation on the welfare of veterans provides that twenty percent of agricultural land be legally set aside for landless veterans and should be accessible upon successful application through responsible authorities. Land was the basis of the liberation struggle and hence ownership of it is deemed to have the potential of socially and economically empowering veterans and their dependents.
4.10 Funeral Benefits
The Ministry responsible for the welfare of veterans in Namibia gives funeral assistance to deceased veterans’ families. The services are decentralised into the various regions of the country so that families of deceased veterans get assistance in the shortest possible period. After burial, the Ministry provides a tombstone to the graves of deceased veterans. There is a trademark on all the tombstones, so that wherever they are buried they can be easily recognized that they were veterans of the liberation struggle. Likewise, in Zimbabwe, families of deceased veterans are entitled to funeral grants. Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, is responsible for the maintenance of designated shrines where declared heroes of the liberation struggle are buried. However, erection of tombstones with a uniform trademark for all deceased veterans regardless of where they are buried, is an uncommon practice in Zimbabwe. Tombstones with a uniform trademark for veterans of the liberation struggle ensure that due respect and honour is given to them wherever they are buried. It is also significant for the preservation of history of the liberation struggle at various levels of the Zimbabwean society.
4.11 Liberation Heritage Sites and War Medals
The Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs has a responsibility to ensure that Namibia’s history of the liberation struggle is preserved and kept alive for the present and future generations. This is achieved through museums which depict the liberation struggle and shrines where some of the country’s war heroes and heroines were buried. Furthermore, the Namibia Government gives Liberation and Independence medals to veterans of the liberation struggle in recognition of their bravery and commitment to the liberation of Namibia. In addition, the veterans are recognized at Heroes Day celebrations were a podium is set aside specifically to honour them.
This is an area found to be lacking in the Zimbabwean case. While there is an effort by the Government to rehabilitate and restore historical sites in general, a more effort is required on maintenance and preservation of liberation struggle historical monuments, big or small, wherever they are. A national museum of the liberation struggle similar to the one in Namibia is necessary. Awarding of medals in honour of veterans for their sacrifice during the liberation struggle is long overdue while distinguished recognition (such as setting aside a podium) on important national events associated with the liberation struggle has been raised at various fora by the veterans themselves.
4.12 War Veterans Associations
There are two associations that represent the interests of war veterans in Namibia, namely the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA) and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). The major difference between the two is that the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association represents all veterans of the war whereas the Ex-Plan represents veterans who were involved militarily during the war. The NNLVA is run through a constitution and is affiliated to the ruling party of Namibia. The association is also recognized by the Veterans Act and its major function is to ensure that Government is made aware of and reacts on time to the concerns and plight of war veterans. It also disseminates any relevant information from Government to its registered members. It is annually subsidized by the Government of the Republic of Namibia through the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs for its daily operations.
Ex-PLAN combatants regard themselves as the real veterans of the liberation struggle and consider the NNLVA as having been highjacked by those not representing the values and principles of the war of liberation. They claim that they have been instrumental in lobbying the Government to put in place measures and programs to assist war veterans whilst they were still alive. They highlighted that life remains difficult for some of its members and efforts have been made to establish a trust through which their members can draw funds to enable them to participate in the various sectors of economy.
In Zimbabwe, veterans of the liberation struggle are represented by several associations aligned to the four categories enshrined in the national Constitution. Freedom fighters are represented by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army Veterans Association among others. The Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Association (ZEPPDRA) represents those who were subjected to persecution and imprisonment for their political beliefs and activities while the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators (ZILIWACO) represents those who are aided freedom fighters during the protracted struggle for independence. The War Veterans League directly identifies itself with the ruling party though it serves the same purpose as all the others. Despite their differences, all the associations seek to represent the interests of veterans of the liberation struggle and are governed by the all-encompassing Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act that came into effect in 2020.
4.13 Challenges Faced by Veterans of the Liberation Struggle in Namibia
Most of the war veterans are fifty years and above and the majority struggle to start viable income generating projects due to health challenges and lack of knowledge or skills to run the businesses. Secondly, not all veterans of the liberation struggle had been registered and some of them were discouraged by the fact that some of those who were registered had not been able to get N$170 000 (US$11 416) cash payout. Thirdly, some of the war veterans were still suffering from the trauma caused by the war while pyscho-social support services were not always readily available.
The Government of Namibia spent close to N$9 billion (USD$604 414,980.00) for the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle and more was required to meet all the needs and demands made by the veterans.
5.0 Committee Observations
a) Economically empowering veterans of the liberation struggle has the potential of uplifting their standard of living and also reducing their dependence on the fiscus. Adequate budgetary support, if prioritised by Government, will enable veterans of the liberation struggle to venture into income generating projects to sustain their families as well as create employment for others;
b) Namibia’s empowerment and social benefit schemes for veterans of the liberation struggle look practically implementable;
c) In Namibia, veterans of the liberation struggle are allocated houses by the State. However, allocation is based on a vetting criteria that takes into account one’s economic status, disability and other befitting factors. This implies that those in dire need of accommodation because of their impoverished state of affairs, are considered first;
d) Honouring veterans of the liberation struggle through the awarding of war or independence medals in recognition of their work and sacrifice is long overdue and must be fulfilled at all costs. Further delay prolongs the emotional suffering of the living heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle and their families;
e) It is a noble idea to put tombstones with a liberation war hero trademark for all fallen veterans of the liberation struggle, regardless of where they are buried and this will keep alive memories of the heroic sacrifice made by the gallant sons and daughters of the liberation struggle;
f) Several veterans of the liberation struggle in two countries, that is, Namibia and Zimbabwe, are victims of psychological trauma as a result of severe physical and emotional injuries associated with the liberation struggles in the both countries;
g) Access to special services for veterans of the liberation struggle is more decentralised in Namibia than in Zimbabwe. A well decentralised system promotes access to resources and services to all eligible beneficiaries;
h) It is very critical to preserve the history of the liberation struggle in a manner that can be appreciated by present and future generations of Zimbabwe. The construction of a liberation war museum chronicling that history in artistic fashion can serve that purpose;
i) In Namibia, major historic events pertaining to the liberation struggle are commemorated on set public holidays. A typical example is the Cassinga Massacre which is actually a public holiday reminding Namibians of their struggle for independence from the scourge of Apartheid.
- The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should ensure that the 2023 National Budget has adequate budgetary support for the department of War Veterans in the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs to enable veterans of the liberation struggle to effectively venture into income generating projects;
- The Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs must expedite conferment of war or independence medals in recognition and honour of the work and sacrifice made by veterans of the liberation struggle. Furthermore, a podium should always be reserved for veterans of the liberation struggle at Heroes Day commemorations and any related events of national significance;
iii. The Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs should consider and adopt the idea of erecting tombstones with a trademark for all veterans of the liberation struggle buried across the country;
- The Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs must ensure that there are adequate pyscho-social support services available to veterans of the liberation struggle who are still affected by the trauma of the war that led to the independence of Zimbabwe;
- By December 2023, the Ministry of Defence should ensure that special services to meet the needs of veterans of the liberation struggle are decentralised to all the districts of the country, in order for veterans and their dependents to get assistance pertaining to health, funeral and education among other needs with ease;
- By December 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, through the department of National Museums and Monuments, should have mobilised resources to construct a liberation war museum meant to preserve the history of the liberation struggle for the benefit of present and future generations;
vii. The Government is implored to consider commemorating every day of major historic event or war pertaining to the Liberation Struggle such as the Chinhoyi Battle, the Nyadzonia and Chimoio Massacres, the Battle of Shangani River among others.
The Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services, would like to thank the Parliament of Namibia for hosting and facilitating the meeting of the various stakeholders in Namibia. Gratitude should also go to the Parliament of Zimbabwe for enabling the Committee to conduct this benchmarking visit. This was the first for the Committee and it would have wanted to visit one other country with a similar historical background with Zimbabwe, in order to get a fuller and richer picture on the programs and policies to assist the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle. These gallant sons and daughters are not going to be with us forever, hence, it is important that we respect and honour them whilst they are still alive. The atmosphere of peace and freedom we enjoy today is indeed the ultimate price for their bravery and sacrifice which will forever be cherished. The benchmark visit was indeed successful the Committee managed to identify and learn some practices that can be adopted in Zimbabwe to improve the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Madam Speaker Ma’am, I want to second the report by Hon. Nguluvhe who is standing in for the Chair, Hon. Mayihlome. I want to applaud the Committee that went for that benchmark visit.
I second as follows Madam Speaker Ma’am and I ask that Hansard transcribes the Preamble of the Constitution so that I do not delay in terms of the diction and also in terms of elaborating.
We, the people of Zimbabwe, UNITED in our diversity by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality, and our heroic resistance to colonialism, racism and all forms of domination and oppression;
EXALTING and EXTOLLING the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles;
HONOURING our forebears and compatriots who toiled for the progress of our country;
RECOGNISING the need to entrench democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance and the rule of law;
REAFFIRMING our commitment to upholding and defending fundamental human rights and freedoms;
ACKNOWLEDGING the richness of our natural resources;
CELEBRATING the vibrancy of our traditions and cultures; DETERMINED to overcome all challenges and obstacles that
impede our progress;
CHERISHING freedom, equality, peace, justice, tolerance,
prosperity and patriotism in search of new frontiers under a common destiny;
ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy of Almighty God, in whose
hands our future lies;
RESOLVE by the tenets of this Constitution to commit ourselves to build a united, just and prosperous nation, founded on values of transparency, equality, freedom, fairness, honesty and the dignity of hard work;
AND IMPLORING the guidance and support of Almighty God,
hereby make this Constitution and commit ourselves to it as the fundamental law of our beloved land.
So, the Preamble speaks to the pith of my debate and also Section 2 (i) of the Constitution that states that any statute that is ultra vires the Constitution should be repudiated to the extent of its inconsistency. Madam Speaker, our Constitution is very clear insofar as it relates to the welfare of the liberation war heroes. Section 23 and indeed Section 84 of our Constitution speak to these issues.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I will not concentrate on Namibia, that has completely been well ventilated by Hon. Nguluvhe. I will not touch on it a lot. However, I will go to the other frontline States that are Angola, Mozambique and indeed South Africa. In Angola, in the Constitution of Angola under Chapter Three (3), on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Duties, Article 84 protects the rights of the war veterans as follows: - ‘1. Combatants of the national independence struggle, the country's veterans, those disabled during the course of military or paramilitary service and the minor children and surviving spouses of combatants killed in action, shall enjoy a special status and the protection of the State and society, under the terms of the Constitution and the law.’
Then it goes further in (2) Madam Speaker Ma’am, ‘The State shall be responsible for promoting policies to ensure the social, economic and cultural integration of the citizens referred to in the previous point, as well as protecting, honouring and preserving the historic achievements in which they played a leading role.’ Madam Speaker Ma’am, I want to equate the constitutional provisions of these jurisdictions one to another so that we are not found wanting as a country, we can actually benchmark our provisions and actions to what is currently obtaining in other countries. I have already spoken about Zimbabwe’s 1980 Lancaster House Constitution which made no mention of the War Veterans. However, the country adopted the new Constitution in January 2013 which addresses the rights of the War Veterans. Chapter 2 of the Constitution on National Objectives has its primary objectives as a guide to the State, including institutions and agencies of Government in implementation and formulation of laws and policies. Indeed, Section 23 states that all institutions and agencies of Government must accord the respect, honour and recognition to the War Veterans. One, it also identifies the War Veterans in the context of Zimbabwe’s history as those that fought in the liberation war and two, those that assisted the fighters. Three, those that were imprisoned, detained and restricted for political reasons during the war.
This actually is in sync with the Namibian modus operandi and Constitution. In particular, Namibia promulgated the Veterans Act in 2008 for the following purpose as stated in the preamble of the Act. One, the provision and assistance of the veterans and dependents of the War Veterans. Two, to provide the registration of veterans and dependents of living and descendants of veterans. Three, to provide for the establishment of projects for the benefit and assistance of the War Veterans and dependents of the War Veterans. Four, to provide for the integration and pension benefits for the War Veterans. Five, to provide for the Constitution and functions of the veterans’ board and veterans appeal board.
It is my thinking that if we put these Constitutions together, amalgamate them, we can formulate a robust, resilient, effective and efficient cover for our War Veterans because they brought us this liberation. Without a protracted liberation struggle, we could still be under the yoke of bondage of our erstwhile colonisers who themselves are enjoying the benefits of the World War I and II whilst they reside in foreign lands, in particular in London and America. They still enjoy the benefits of the World War II, those that live, including their dependents. It is my thinking that the protracted war of liberation in all these frontline States should also take a turn and be respected in the same form like the World Ward I and II was respected because these people, during the time when they were supposed to enjoy life, did not enjoy life. The children that were born and those that were still in the loins did not enjoy life. They would not have been born if their fathers had been deceased during the war. It is my thinking that it should have an ad infinitum way of provision of assistance to the War Veterans and those dependents of the War Veterans.
In South Africa, they address the War Veterans in its Military Veterans Act of 2011. South Africa chooses to define War Veterans as military veterans; one, who gave military service to any of the military organisations statutory and non-statutory. Two, which were involved in all sides of the South African liberation war from 1960 to 1994 and served in the Union Defence Force before 1961 or became a member of the new South African National Defence Force after 1994. That is opposing forces of the national liberation movements pre-independence are included in this Act. If we take all these Acts that I have spoken to and about, we can reach a conclusion that I am now going into that speaks about the similarities where they are born out of the experiences that all these countries had.
As I conclude, it is important to identify which class of persons qualifies as a War Veteran and as per Zimbabwean Constitution in Article 23, the definition is often very context specific. However, in Zimbabwe in the Second Republic, people have been vetted including the detainees, restrictees, war collaborators and the liberation war heroes and if this is done expeditiously, we cannot lose what is called oral tradition or institutional memory. The issue of vetting should continue before the detainees, restrictees, and also war collaborators are deceased.
It is important to consider articulating the resources available, limitation and assistance and to emphasise the ad infinitum nature of the measure so as to compel War Veterans to fully integrate into the society knowing fully that their children and dependents are going to be taken care of now and in the future because they brought us the much cherished independence. I applaud Hon. Nguluvhe for stating that Amendment No. 2 of the Constitution also states that there should be a 20% apportionment of land to the War Veterans and this is applaudable and that should not only be seen to be heard but to be seen to be done.
If the Angolan and Mozambican constitutional approach is taken, the question arises to what point the benefits for dependents and orphans of the War Veterans will either cease or expire. In general, there is a need to consider the question of sustainability of such an undertaking, particularly when considering the economic viability of such an approach. What I need to hasten to say is that there is need to equate the provisions for the War Veterans to our economic circumstances and we need to actually have an equivalent amount of economic power in terms of finances pegged either on the dollar to hedge on inflationary pressures. There is need to continue to say if it is going to be a dollar or kilogramme of gold, it continues to maintain that value.
It may also be prudent to consider the experience of other African countries in implementing programmes affecting war veterans in addition to the Commission of appointment of a Ministry for the Defence and War Veterans, which the Second Republic has aptly done. It is most important that other jurisdictions and frontline states can take a cue from Zimbabwe.
I want to thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to vociferously, effectively and efficiently debate on the benchmarking visit for the Portfolio Committee on Defence and War Veterans, in particular from a position where I come from. I have got our war collaborators; Madam Sarah Chikukwa and Marjorie Ruzha, and Tawanda Chitashu is a war veteran of the liberation struggle and Benji, the former Base Commander of J.Z. Moyo Airbase and indeed, a lot of other war veterans within Chegutu West Constituency. They will be proud that I have added my voice to the effect that there should be an ad infinitum circumstance in terms of provision of the welfare of the liberation war heroes insofar as is in tandem with that of the Second and First World War. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to join in this debate. The greatest service we can do to war veterans, number one is to give them title deeds to the farms that they benefitted as a result of the Land Reform Programme. The Land Reform Programme had as its basis two main things; the decolonisation process, the concept of one man one vote and one woman one vote but at the epicenter of that was access to land.
The Pioneer Column came into this country in 1897, pushed and obtained the Rudd Concession in order to get land and access to minerals that abound in this country. When they came from the South, they thought that Zimbabwe represented the huge Rand, the second Rand after the discovery of gold in the Rand zone of South Africa. Of course, they did not find the gold that they thought about and so, they turned to land. They acquired tonnes and tonnes of land.
Henry Vuso Moyana has written a book called The Land Question In Zimbabwe and part of the study he did was to study the acquisitions of land in places such as Melsetter, Chipinge and so forth. People like Thomas Meikles and Dr. Stanley acquired tonnes and tonnes of huge states in the Melsetter-Chipinge area. Forty-four years after independence, much of that land is still intact and owned by white commercial interests. Billy Rautenbach for instance, owns tonnes and tonnes of land in the Chipinge-Chisumbanje area.
We had the Land Reform Programme in 2000, well and good but if you go to Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Manicaland, less than 5% of the farms are still not leased by white farmers. So, whilst we complained about the problem of white ownership of farms and multiple ownership of our farms by white farmers, right now the biggest challenge is multiple farm leasing by white interests in this country. This country is independent simply because we pulled down the Union Jack on the 18th April, 1980 but the fact of the matter is that this country is still owned, controlled and run by white commercial interests, whether it is in mining, farming, manufacturing, banking, legal and auditing sector, white commercial interests are still dominating in this country. It is not yet Uhuru; there is unfinished business of the liberation struggle.
I am looking at my brother and comrade, Cde Joseph Chinotimba sitting over there. He crossed the border into Mozambique but he has nothing to show for it. Even the little seat he had is gone in Buhera there and you do this better than I do – [Laughter.] – My submission is that the first thing which we need to do is to give title deeds to war veterans of the farms that they acquired. You cannot make them subject to the offer letter. The offer letter is non-securitised and in breach of Chapter 16 of the Constitution. The offer letter, just like their constituencies, can go just like the wind – bhuru bhuru, yabhururuka seshiri.
Let us give them security of tenure kuti chanoti chandakarwirawo ndechichi. Chandinosiirawo vazukuru vangu ndechichi, that land and if we say the basis of the Land Reform Programme was the land, then the basis of the reward of the war veteran must be the land. That should be the starting point. Why are we afraid to give war collaborators the land? Let us give them title deeds.
Secondly, pensions Mr. Speaker; we gave them pay-outs in 1997 but they were pegged in an unstable volatile currency. Many of them have nothing to show for that. We are giving them pensions in a volatile, non-stable currency. Let us give our war veterans their pensions in a stable currency. The Government itself has recognized the volatility of the Zimbabwe dollar by levying everything in USD; passports, number plates, birth certificates, milk from Pick ‘n’ Pay, school fees and license in USD but war veterans salaries in RTGs – [Laughter.] – tonyebera kuvada vanhu ava.
Why do we not have reserved seats and a quota system for war veterans, eheka hanti ndivo vakarwa hondo here? Handisi kunyepa ndiri kutaura chokwadi. Ndiri mwana wevhu comrade. Uyu Chinotimba anoiswa kuti aende kuprimary namafikizolo asingazive kuti pfuti inofamba sei uyu. Mangwana tomuka tichiti Chinotimba wadyiwa, wadyiwa nani? Asi patakaenda kuhondo takamboita maprimary ekuenda kuhondo here? Mr. Speaker, did we ever do primary elections to go to war? Maybe they were there in Buhera but in Murehwa and Dotito they were not there. We must respect the war veterans of the struggle. Let us give them land and allow them permanent representation in the National Assembly through a quota system. There are only a few of them left and they are all elderly. Let us give them a reserved quota system.
Surely, 44 years after independence, we do not have a National Liberation Museum in Zimbabwe. If you go to India, China or even the United States, they recognise their war veterans. The likes of George Washington, the first President of the USA was a war veteran of the American war of independence. Here, we do not do that yet we spend a lot of finances on other things and omit to build a museum for the war veterans. When they die, a few are lucky to go to the Heroes’ Acre. When declared a hero, your estate gets tax exemption. Why are you giving a war veteran money when they are dead instead of giving it to them when alive? You give the dead hero tax-free capital gains, but when alive, the war veteran did not even have a proper shoe to put on. You give a war veteran a medal for being a hero but when alive, you did not even want to see him/her.
When I was Minister of Finance, Hon. Chinotimba came to my office and I told him to accompany me to Obert Mpofu because he had the money for diamonds. So, we need to deal with the welfare of the war veterans when they are still alive. Even the farms that I have spoken of, if you want to make someone poor in Zimbabwe right now, just give him/her a farm. AN fertilizer is $70, compound D is $45 and for one hectare of maize, you need to fork out US$3000. As a war veteran, he/she is also a three thousand dollars and cannot afford it. If you want to give me a farm, also give me the resources. Do not tell me to go to AFC or Agribank to get a loan at 200% interest. Do not make me wait for the Presidential scheme which delivers AN in April when I was supposed to put the fertilizer in November of the previous year.
When I have harvested my maize, do not tell me to go to GMB which will give me RTGs six months later. When I have grown my tobacco, do not give me my tobacco money in RTGs dollars. When I grow my cotton, do not give me my money six months later in RTGs dollars. When I have grown my wheat, do not spend 10 months before paying me for my wheat. In other words, do not pretend you are giving me a farm when you have given me poverty. A farm without the necessary resources is a guarantee to poverty and that is why for most people farming is a hobby and not a business. That land is the economy and economy is the land. The ZANU-PF manifesto of 2000 was correct on that.
So, Mr. Speaker, I urge the authorities to give the war veterans their due position. There must be a quota in this House. There must be title deeds, a right to education for war veterans because they spent a lot of time not going to school. We were here and we went to school and now we are their bosses yet they are the ones who fought for our independence. I support the report but the report does not go far. It should make demands today for reserved seats for war veterans, title deeds for war veterans and pensions in US dollars. This pension should not wait for the budget because that is problematic for pensions to wait for budgetary allocations. Why can you not have a stand-alone defined scheme for war veterans pension fund that can support and finance the financial and economic activities of war veterans? This is because as long as it is going to wait for the budget, the war veterans will not be priority because the budget has various humongous recurrent demands. There can be a cyclone and the war veterans will come last but if there is a fund run by war veterans themselves, which they can invest so that it accumulates more, that can work. NSSA is sitting on excess capital of more than 80%. In other words, what they need is 20%, so let us take 20% from NSSA and put US$400 million in a war veterans pension fund, then invest 200 million and leave the other amount for the monthly pay-outs. In five years, with the right asset managers and equity managers, that 400 million will have capitalised to four billion. Then war veterans do not have to go to the Minister of Finance for money. Hon. Nguluvhe will not have to report that when the Minister of Finance does this because they will be controlling their own fund. You can simply employ the young minds with accounting skills to assist you run your fund. That is what we should do if we love them Mr. Speaker. You cannot just love them at rallies saying pasi nemhanduuu but we need to love them by walking the talk and giving them title deeds, school fees, houses and farms. I thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Thank you very much Hon. Biti. Your contributions were very meaningful. I hope the House will support all your contributions.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The debate by Hon. Biti seems like a phenomenon. It is amazing for a person from the opposition to speak like that. If this debate had been done from 1980 or when opposition came into being in 2000, we would not be having the problems that we have today. Today, Hon. Biti did not speak like the opposition but like a true man who knows who the war veterans stand for.
I want to thank the Chair for the report and all the political parties who support the war veterans as alluded to by Hon Biti. When the truth is spoken, it is painful. That is exactly what happened. The farms that are supposed to be a 20% quota – nothing like that is happening. They tried to implement it but they stopped. It was supposed to be implemented on everything. Right now, there is women’s quota in Parliament, youth quota in Parliament but the war veterans do not have a quota on anything. We just stay and if you want to become a Member of Parliament, you have to go and contest with others like Chinotimba when the war veterans are the ones who fought for this country.
As far as I am concerned, the war veterans are not yet liberated because the 20% quota for them has not been implemented. We went to Namibia to see how they are being treated. It is far much different from us but they benchmarked with us. We went to the museum and there is a statue of the former President, Sam Nioma. Inside there are a lot of other commanders like Tongogara and Mujuru’s statues. It really shows that there is a lesson to be learnt. All over the world, people go there to learn, including those from South Africa, because it was one country. In that museum, there are weapons that they used during the liberation struggle. There are also weapons that were used against us during the liberation struggle. People are suffering, there is no history of the liberation struggle. The only history that they know is that Chinotimba was a war veteran. It is written and well documented from eight to twelfth floor. There are categories and definitions of war veterans but here there is nothing.
After given a farm, the next day a youth comes and takes over that farm. The following day you will see someone from the Ministry of Lands claiming the same farm. You can find even a relative coming to take away that land from you. We need war veterans to be capacitated. War veterans sacrificed and went to war to liberate the country. They lost children but today they are still struggling.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I do not think this matter should just end in the National Assembly. These debates about war veterans must be published. Even the Opposition know why war veterans went to the liberation struggle. The gist of the matter is that war veterans must be empowered. Some of the war veterans we come across will be in a sorry state. Some of them are buried without coffins. There is also too much bureaucracy. There are no coffins in Buhera where we can easily access them. You have to wait for declaration in Harare where you are declared a liberation war hero. Sometimes you only get RTGS3 000 funding yet when someone is declared a national hero, there will be plenty of food and drinks, but for a liberation war hero, there is nothing you will see. You will see lights, Doves or Nyaradzo with huge vehicles when a national hero’s burial is taking place.
I once took the City of Harare to court. The municipality was only allocating houses to Grade 6 downwards while from Grade 8 upwards, there was nothing. Unfortunately, I got a house when I was in a higher grade then they wanted me to vacate that house but I told them they cannot only support those with higher grades and not doing anything for the other staff, just like what is happening at the national heros acre which is contrary to what a liberation hero is. The treatment of a war hero must be the same for a liberation war hero. Yes, indeed, there is always protocol and there is a commander but surely sometimes when you see a liberation war hero, you will not like it. Sometimes there is just a declaration but the coffin has to come from Harare. Sometimes their children just bury them – why do we not decentralize that process? I think this is a terrible situation for the war veterans.
The pension we are getting and the fees for our children is not enough. Our children are being expelled from school because of non-payment of fees. Even the examination fees, we cannot afford to pay. We are made to pay the examination fees in US$ dollars. We negotiate on school fees payment but for examination fees, there is no negotiation. What the war veterans are earning is just too little. Right now, we have also included war collaborators as war veterans and there is no benefit. We are only promising them but nothing is happening. If we discuss something, it must be fulfilled. Let us give them what they deserve. Do you know that some of the war veterans died without earning the gratuities that they were supposed to earn?
In 1980, we liberated this country and we had our independence on the 18th of April – if we say war veterans must be given 50 000, what about the deceased ones that we know very well? Although we were using pseudo names, what about those who died in 1980 who are well known? Some of them might have been in the army. Why were they not given their gratuities? They died without anything. Some of their children failed to go to school.
The reason why we ended up being given pension is because there was a serious problem. When it was investigated in 1997, we realized that the whites that we fought against were earning pensions and sending money to Britain. That is why we asked why we were not earning the same and we were told that we liberated ourselves to be able to get power over resources and we do not need pension or compensation yet the whites who shot us were earning pensions. They were allocated land in Melsetter because they killed blacks yet some of us have nothing.
If we go to Mosi-oa-tunya, there is Rhodes statue there. I am in support of this report – the houses that are being built in Namibia are model houses where a real war veteran who confronted the enemy is supposed to live in. This assists in relieving stress. Do you know that war veterans do not sleep at night? Some of them hallucinate running away from the enemy or the aeroplane. It is because of the trauma that resulted from the liberation struggle – that is the reason why we are saying they must be compensated. There is no war veteran who is at peace in this country yet we are failing to capacitate them. We must allocate them farms and money. Right now, we are being given US$87 as pension and it is staggered. I support the motion that all war veterans need to be compensated so that they at least forget about the trouble that they went through and the trauma that they got from the war.
There is also need for a war veterans’ quota just like we have the women’s and youth quotas. If you go to Namibia, South Africa and Angola, there is a quota for war veterans but here we do not have. What about us the war veterans who fought a bitter war for the country? I thank you.
(v)HON. MUDARIKWA: I would like to thank the Committee for a job well done but I want to debate on issues that have not been debated by other Hon. Members.
The first thing that I want to look at is, during the Pioneer Column – their ultimate objective was to fight against the authorities that were in Zimbabwe. The main target was Lobengula, they followed him at the Shangani battle and Lobengula disappeared. His wife commanded the Matabele warriors and defeated the Pioneer Column. I was in Matabeleland and shown the grave of Lozikeyi, it is an eyesore. We need to consider that these are the people who led the foundation of the struggle. These are the women who laid the foundation of the struggle but as we speak now, the grave is just like an ordinary grave. These are some of the things that we must consider and look at because any struggle or movement must have a historical context – who were the founders of this particular movement and also Nehanda Nyakasikana – these are the women who led the basis of the struggle. We must consider that more be done for them.
The second group of fighters was Chingaira Mashayamombe and many others. It is a shame. As I speak now, the head of Chingaira, Mashayamombe and many others who put up the fight are still in London. London is the centre of colonialism; imperialism and mastered the slave trade, decimated our economy, financed most of the activities that destabilized countries in Africa but we still allowed heads of our leaders to be in London. The Defence and Home Affairs Committee time allowed, must visit London and demand to see the heads of the heroes of the struggle because these are the people who led the activities.
We cannot sit down and relax and enjoy yet the people who led the struggle, their heads are still captured. It means when you are captured, the spirit medium is still captured. The spirit of the living is also captured. You cannot have freedom when your forefathers who led the struggle are captured. We do not even know how the heads are being kept. So, the Committee must have a historical context of understanding where our struggle came from, who are the people who led the foundation of the struggle and where are they. They must now say, release these heads and the people of Zimbabwe must celebrate.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there are well known victims of the Smith regime, highly educated Dr. Edson Sithole, a lawyer par international, a lawyer of rare tenacity, a man who knew what he was doing but he was abducted. His family up to now has not been given anything but here is a man who is recorded in the records of the Smith regime, who is known in the media; if you talk of Edson Sithole, they know.
Even all these other guys who became lawyers were inspired by Edson Sithole but up to now, the family of Edson Sithole does not account for the body of Edson Sithole, does not account for the spirit of Edson Sithole. More-so, as Government, we should put a compensation plan to assist the families of Edson Sithole. I saw some of his relatives and discussed with them; they were saying ‘what should we do and who should we talk to?’.
Therefore, the Defence and Home Affairs Portfolio Committee must look at all these things and find out the founders of the struggle, people who were killed by the Smith regime, what happened to their remains and even their relatives. We have to account for Edson Sithole but what happened to his family? Who is looking after his family, who are his kids, why can we not look at the family of Edson Sithole? This idea of saying under 18 does not work because they have been neglected. So, I just thought I should mention the name of Edson Sithole, everybody knows who Edson Sithole was. It is painful.
Mr. Speaker Sir, a revolution has got some stages. We had the 1966 Chinhoyi battle, the seven heroes; I remember when we went to Guruve with the late Father Ribeiro to see the parents of Godwin Manyerenyere, the mother was still alive. It was painful but these are people who laid the foundation of the struggle, these are the people who fired the first shots against the enemy but their families were leaving in terrible houses without floors, with floors done with cow-dung to remove the dust in the kitchen yet they are the people who laid the foundation of the struggle. These are the people who spilled their blood, iropa ravo magamba epa Chinhoyi.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Operation Hurricane covered Muzarabani, Dotito, Mt. Darwin, Centenary, Madziva, Bindura, Chiweshe, Murehwa, UMP, Mutoko, Mudzi. Operation Hurricane was known before 1975 Independence of Frelimo. The whole situation was from Alterna farm to the people in these areas. There are known families where people were killed, comrades died. The families of those comrades who were targeted by Operation Hurricane are still suffering in Mt. Darwin. I had a chance to see the sons of Kid Marongorongo, he is now an old man but again the whole concept is that revolution has been diluted to the extent that we always want to look and scratch at the surface and not go under to find out what must be done.
So, the dependents of these people must be looked after. Their orphans did not go to school and the research team must be established in the Ministry of Defence to go into these different areas. In my constituency UMP, we had Kangara Base Massacre. The names of the people are listed there, their sons and daughters are there but they are suffering.
We had a massacre at Katiyo and many other areas where our people continue to suffer but I want to thank the Second Republic that for the first time, 42 years after Independence, the Independence Celebrations are going to take place in Mt. Darwin. All those guys, wherever they are, James Bond, Kid Marongorongo, Cde Vhuu, will also be celebrating. We will not be seeing them but the spirits of these comrades will be around celebrating independence. It is from this idea that we shift from the status quo that we must continue and assist the affected families.
We must also be in a position to build second monuments in different areas. In Mt. Darwin, we can build the monument of Kid Marongorongo, In Chiweshe, we can build the monument of Cde Vhuu. If we normalise these people who started the struggle, if they are looked after properly, you will see everything moving smoothly.
The issue of farms is not negotiable. People who fought; those who fought in Britain, came here to be compensated and were given thousands of hectares of land as compensation, a reward for having participated in the war.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in agriculture, as long as you do not have ENDA, you get into agriculture at your own peril. You will suffer. These comrades on the farms, most of them had to stop because we do not have ENDA institution.
Cold Storage Commission was there to finance cattle to all these commercial farmers. They were given resources free of charge, they never borrowed money. War veterans must never borrow money for agriculture. We must give them resources and say Agritex, give us an assessment, what is the holding capacity; 500 cattle. Give him the 500 cattle, after five years we come and take our 500 cattle. This is how the British developed this agriculture that everybody admired to say varungu vaishamisira. They had nothing but they were backed by ENDA institution.
We had a Cotton Marketing Board, it backed all these big commercial farmers, gave them inputs and also gave them what they call establishment grants. You do not want a farm; you need an establishment grant to be established, to be on the farm, then you can develop. A war veteran is an admiration of every Zimbabwean, not only Zimbabweans but every other person in this Southern African region admires the role of the war veterans because you need to remember there was what was called the frontline states where all the forces who were fighting against imperialism - SWAPO, MPLA, ANC, ZANLA, ZIPRA were working together to defeat an enemy that had agreed to say we must take over. These imperialists were defending international capital, that is why at this moment, we also need to salute the people of Cuba. Cuban internationalists came to fight – I am just giving reference because this was a study visit to Namibia. Cuban internationalists came to fight, the battle at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola is where it all started … (Recording glitch) and that marked the beginning of a struggle that defeated all imperialists but imperialism has different stages.
The political part of it has been defeated. We must now face imperialism on the economic front and the champions of fighting against imperialism on the economic front must be Zimbabweans. We are our own liberators, we will remain our own liberators but Mr. Speaker Sir, it is critical that the report is adopted with critical amendments that we are mentioning and that have been mentioned by different Hon. Members so that when it moves forward, it is a document that gives dignity. Before you talk of anything, you must give dignity to a movement, give dignity to the revolution then you give dignity to the participants of the revolution.
I would like to salute the Second Republic and also Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Jacob Mudenda; that head of the Queen, the crown of the Queen that is in our Parliament. When you go to the new Parliament, it must be removed because those are signs of oppression; those are signs of the existence of imperialism, neo-colonialism. We will continue like that but what happens? When you are under siege, when you are the heads of imperialism, you will never know that you are colonised until the day you are about to die. So, it is important that before many people die, they get the benefits of what they fought for. Everybody in Zimbabwe must also get the economic benefits of this country. We are faced with a very difficult situation where time and again, people were talking about the cost of fertilisers and everything but there is SDR from the International Monetary Fund. We must be saying okay, our economy depends of agriculture, let us import fertiliser and sell it to our farmers at a subsidised rate.
The people in my area are going to Zambia and Mozambique to import fertiliser – it is cheaper there. Yet here fertiliser is very expensive and most of the fertiliser companies are owned by Government. So, we need to address the situation where even in the Constitution Mr. Speaker Sir, there is an element where it is mentioned that all those who assisted in the struggle – in Germany, after the Second World War, there was massive construction of clinics, schools et cetera in the affected areas. This is the same thing that must also happen here in our communal lands. We must get schools being constructed as a sign of thank you to the people who participated in the struggle.
I want to thank the other Hon. Members who have contributed so far for their understanding on the importance, Mr. Speaker Sir, of consolidating a revolution. When you create a revolution, it is not for yourselves, a revolution is for the next generation and posterity. It is important Mr. Speaker Sir that as we debate now, we must also salute the people who put the final nail on the Smith regime for a job well done. We must continue saluting what they did and also when we look at war veterans who are in the civil service, when we calculate their pensions, it must be calculated from the date they joined the struggle because joining the struggle was a national duty. War veterans in the police and army, their pensions must be calculated from the date that they joined the struggle. So it is very important Mr. Speaker Sir, that we recognise certain fundamentals that were done. Yes, we do not like the British …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Order, order Hon. Mudarikwa, may you wind up?
HON. MUDARIKWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am winding up but I am getting messages here from other Hon. Members that my contribution is so exciting and full of revolutionary flavour. My contribution is of rare tenacity. So, Mr. Speaker Sir, this is what is pushing me to continue debating but with all due respect Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you very much for allowing me to contribute to this great, very important report that has been tabled by the Committee on Defence and Home Affairs.
Hon. Members in the Committee on Defence and Home Affairs – job well done. I salute you. Thank you very Mr. Speaker Sir.
(v)HON. KASHIRI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir!
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I have actually recognised Hon. Muchimwe so, I will recognise you after him.
(v)HON. KASHIRI: I was going to request for Hon. Mudarikwa to be given another 10 minutes to wind up Hon. Speaker Sir – he had a point to make.
(v)HON. B. DUBE: The debate has been concluded and he has already resumed his seat, we cannot Mr. Speaker Sir.
(v)HON. KASHIRI: Hon. Dube, you are not the Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order Hon. Kashiri?
(v)HON. KASHIRI: Yes, on a point of order Hon. Speaker Sir. I beg that Hon. Mudarikwa be given 10 minutes to wind up his speech.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: It has already been overtaken by events. Sorry about that, because you are now disturbing Hon. Muchimwe who is on the floor at the moment.
*HON. MUCHIMWE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to also contribute to this motion. The issue about war veterans must be prioritised in this country. In 1976, when I was in Grade Seven (7), I read an article in the Rhodesian Herald that said and I quote, “In a thousand years from now, will I start to think about black majority rule.” Those words were uttered by Ian Smith, if only Zimbabweans were cowards, we would still be under colonialism.
Those were the words that really angered me and other citizens of this country and made us to join others in the liberation struggle. In 1977, when I was in Form One, several schools were closed as school children went to either Zambia or Mozambique to join the liberation struggle. Many of them died and some are not even known where they are buried. Although the remains …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, may you connect your gadget please?
*HON. MUCHIMWE: It is connected. Most of them died and disappeared …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You are not connected Honourable! – [HON. MUCHIMWE: I am connected!] – No, you are not. – [HON. MUCHIMWE: My phone is working.] – [*HON. MATSUNGA: You are not connected, the other Hon. Members who are on virtual cannot hear what you are saying!] Even me here, I cannot clearly hear what you are saying.
*HON. MUCHIMWE: When I was in Grade 7 in 1976, I read an article in the Rhodesia Herald which said, ‘in a thousand years from now will, I start to think about black majority rule.’ This was Ian Smith who said these words. If the people of Zimbabwe were not brave enough to embark on the war of liberation, we would still be under colonialism even now. Those are the words that really angered the people of this country. In 1977 when I was in Form 1, I also joined others in the struggle for liberation of our country.
Many schools were closed and some school children went to Zambia or Mozambique to join the liberation struggle. Many of them died and some of them are not even known where they are buried. I want to thank His Excellency for saying that he is a listening President because most of our country’s liberators are now getting their dues but I am surprised why some have not been compensated by now. If you go in the Bible, there is a story about David where the fighter was given what was due to them after the war. Likewise, veterans of the liberation struggle must be given their dues.
Income generating projects are good but the veterans of liberation struggle need to be given their money. Income generating projects may not give them a good return because there is a lot that is involved. Some of the war veterans are now old and frail hence they cannot embark on income generating projects. The reason why Ian Smith declared that in a thousand years, it was because he believed that this country can never be liberated. All I am saying is that war veterans must get their benefits whilst they are still there.
*HON. NYAMUDEZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to debate the motion raised by Hon. Nguluvhe. Firstly, I would want to say that Ndabanigni Sithole is the one who started the war of liberation. The likes of Comrade Hunzvi went to Ndabaningi Sithole asking guidance on way forward. Ndabanigni Sithole advised them to go on the streets and demonstrate. They got a car which was red in colour. They demonstrated and got the money.
When the war liberators went to war, first of all, they went to the chiefs and put snuff on the ground and speak to the spirit mediums. If you forgot Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole nothing will move forward. War veterans really worked in this country. A lot of people who went to war died. There are those like Mr. Gwejera and William Ndangana who led the crocodile gang and Noel Mukono who was once Secretary for Defence in 1972/73, those people are no longer known but they were commanding the war. I kindly ask all the war veterans, whenever you make these demands, you should talk to other people who are well versed with these situations. Go to people like Rugare Gumbo who know the direction which you are supposed to take as war liberators.
As we speak, if a war veteran dies – we just have a few who are remaining – their history is not known except for war collaborators who know a few things about the war. It is very unfortunate that if we compare the Government since 1970 to Jairos Jiri, they have done nothing. How can Government forget the people who ushered them into authority and power? The motion that has been put forward should indicate that we have come together as Members of Parliament, especially on what was said by Hon. Biti that there should be a quota system for war veterans. We are not against the quota system for the youth but the youth need to be shown the direction on how things are done because you find that most youth do not know anything about the liberation struggle. They should be taught what the liberation struggle is all about. If the war veterans are given land you will see things moving forward.
Talking about Jairos Jiri, he benefited nothing from the philanthropic work he was doing. He was looking after those with disability until Government acknowledged his work. Namibia got its Independence on 21 March 1990 but it is ahead of us in terms of the welfare of war veterans. Again, South Africa was liberated in May 1994, but looking at them with regards to the welfare of war veterans, they are way ahead of us. Most of them drive cars and they have houses but here in Zimbabwe if you see anyone who is driving a car, it is someone who came back and went to school like Hon. Chinotimba and Hon. Mayihlome who got a chance to become Members of Parliament. For those who are in the rural areas, life is very difficult. You see them struggling and you wonder why they went to war. Others are even regretting why they joined the liberation struggle. It is not something nice when spoken by someone who has gone to war to liberate this country. What I have said about Father Gideon Mhlanga, he was able to build Gazaland Secondary School in Manicaland. He had seen that whites had classes, to say those who had failed in their primary level education would not go further to secondary education. When he asked for money, he thought of a Zimbabwean child and he built a school with the intention of assisting them. Even Father Zimbabwe, who had the intention of sending Father Gideon Mhlanga to war, never did it and the school was closed in 1977 because of the liberation war.
This motion which has been raised in this House, I have a problem with how we conduct ourselves in this House. Nothing materialises. It is only talking and no implementation. This is something that we have agreed upon as Members of Parliament but tomorrow when we look at it during another Parliament, when we have gone for elections, the issue of war veterans will not be discussed. It will have been thrown away into the bins. Today we have mentioned that it should be implemented then you see again the same issue being talked about in 2025. Let us not forget ourselves. We should know where we came from. Thank you.
(v) #HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on this debate. I would like to thank Hon. Mayihlome for bringing this motion on this issue of war veterans. War veterans did a great job of liberating Zimbabwe but when we look at the war veterans, they now seem as ordinary and useless people, yet these are the people who liberated Zimbabwe. These are the people who brought independence.
I will talk about war veterans who are in the rural areas. They also get their war veterans pension and the amount of money they get is too little such that they cannot buy anything. War veterans now spend four months without going to collect their monthly pensions. That way he can manage to buy himself maybe two kilogrammes of sugar and go back home. Hon. Speaker, I think the Government should look into this issue of war veterans’ welfare. The Government should feel for these people, they brought independence to Zimbabwe and honestly, the money they are getting is nothing.
There are other war veterans who were never paid anything when others got $50 000 then. Some of them got injured during the war and got compensation but they did not get the $50 000 that others got. They are not getting any monthly pension. The Government should relook into this matter. May the Government look after those war veterans who got injured and cannot work for themselves. These people are not being treated the same, especially those in the rural areas. Some of them live in one-roomed houses. War veterans should not be suffering here in Zimbabwe. They should be taken care of. Government should take care of them.
Hon. Speaker, a lot has already been said by other Hon. Members. The Government should take care of those war veterans who did not receive any package, those who are now disabled and cannot fend for themselves. Some of them still have bullets in their bodies and scars from fighting to liberate this country. The Government should take care of those people. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, may I just guide you not to repeat what has already been contributed by other Hon. Members please. Bring in fresh points and ideas.
(v)HON. B. DUBE: I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and in addition, I want to thank Rtd. Major Gen. Mayihlome and Rtd. Gen. Nguluvhe for presenting this wonderful report. I also want to take this opportunity to explain that I am happy that the founding values of the party to which I belong, MDC stands for completing the unfinished business of the liberation struggle. In 1999, we actually observed and indeed acknowledged this as one of the most fundamental issue on our land to make sure that war veterans are taken care of and that all the outstanding issues relating to the liberation are addressed.
The war veterans were supposed to get all their dues including title to the land, not this idea of just giving them bushes where some members here have already explained that war veterans have been stressed by being given land when they do not have the resources. The war veterans end up being given stress and stroking in the farms where they are because they cannot do anything. They cannot herd cattle or do grain production because they have no money.
My point is, we actually need to honour our war veterans by making sure that they have all the land that was given to them and given title so that they have title deeds and that even their children can have an inheritance. We actually need to complete that museum relating to the war veterans. I was in Namibia on a different assignment and I was happy to find out that I was taken for dinner at a liberation museum in Namibia , something we do not have in Zimbabwe. It is an embarrassment to actually not recognise our very own.
I also had an opportunity here in Gweru Urban, which constituency I represent, to have one of the decorated war veterans, Cde Rugare Gumbo who happens to stay in my constituency. I visited him to actually find out the perspective of the war veterans relating to what has happened to them from 1980 to now and actually, the sentiments that Hon. Chinotimba presented here are actually a confirmation of what I got from him. They feel betrayed, unwanted and used. We only remember war veterans when we want to use them but we must actually value and honour our war veterans because they did a very good job.
We must actually make sure that we have a quota system for the war veterans. I do not see how it cannot be processed if we have a quota for war veterans in Parliament. We should be able to do that because subjecting war veterans to primaries has actually led to serious scars. As we are speaking right now, some of them have actually lost primaries and are being measured with the educated boys and girls, and people are laughing at them saying they cannot speak proper English so we cannot vote for them. They forget that these people failed to go to school because they took part in the liberation struggle.
They are now being measured by a standard that they failed to achieve because they were actually doing national duty and so, it is very unfair to have a Parliament which does not have this quota for war veterans. We have our comrades like Hon. Chinotimba losing primaries to educated young boys speaking English, having a lot of money and bragging that they are educated forgetting that they are educated because someone sacrificed.
I want to thank the party to which I belong, MDC because we still abide by the values where we are saying we must honour the war veterans, the promises of the liberation struggle and make sure that we end corruption and give more benefits to our people. The reason why we are failing to give benefits to our people is because many of the resources are being abused and looted by thieves. War veterans must be having clusters where they are given mining claims and allowed to flourish and enjoy but those things are being looted by criminals and mischievous people in our land. It is fundamental for the party to which I belong the MDC…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Dube, order, this honourable House is a Government institution which comprises of all parties in this country. This motion is all about war veterans. So I do not think it is proper for you to speak about your party. Please stick to the debate on war veterans’ issues and not party issues. Please stand guided.
HON. B. DUBE: We should uplift the lives of our people from serious poverty and this should be seriously considered. I want to thank Hon. Nguluvhe and Hon. Mayihlome for spearheading this by making sure that the motion of this nature is presented in this august House so that everyone is aware and gets conscientised of where our war veterans are and where the war collaborators are. They are in poverty while some of us are enjoying the benefits of this liberation struggle and have forgotten that there are people who sacrificed all they had and were willing to give it all for purposes of making sure that we get this liberation.
I will end by saying this must not be a talk show. The issues that are in this motion are not very difficult to implement; for example, the aspect of a quota for war veterans. This just requires a constitutional amendment. We have seen some amendments which sailed through and this constitutional amendment may need to be considered very soon so that in this particular session, we should then be able to have in place the mechanism to ensure that the war veterans’ quota is there. Also, in terms of our other laws, they may need to be amended, such as the laws relating to mining, which are already in progress through the Mines Committee. We should make sure that we complete this thing and we do not make it a talk show and take too long to implement. I thank you.
(v)HON. DR. MURIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for recognising me. I want to add my voice to the report prepared by our Committee and thank the Members who went to Namibia for the comprehensive study that they did. I am one of the liberation fighters and as I stand here, I am so hurt, with the extent of pain we go through. So, I am talking from experience. Mr. Speaker Sir, take note that I am one of the Members of the war veterans who stood in Rufaro Stadium ground raising the flag on the 18th April in 1980 as a young man of 19 years. So, I am contributing to this debate with all those memories in hindsight.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I have three issues that I need to put emphasis on. Firstly, it appears to me all structures of Government and all interested parties are in agreement that the war veterans are supposed to be taken care of. But alas, nothing is done despite that agreement. Secondly, I want to raise the issue of structure. The Constitution is very clear that the war veterans are supposed to be recognised and that laws are supposed to be promulgated to protect the interests of war veterans. A law has been put in place which is the War Veterans Act but implementation becomes difficult. Why, one wonders? The 20% that was talked about is actually not in the Constitution but it is also being suggested everywhere. I think the idea of having a 20% reservation for war veterans in whatever Government does was to have representation of war veterans in most structures of Government but that has not been implemented or realised, resulting in all structures of Government being occupied by people who have no appreciation of what war veterans require. Nowadays, those structures of Government are occupied by people who were born in 1980. These people we are talking about are now 35 or 40 years and they do not have any appreciation of what war veterans went through or how the country came about. If there was concerted effort to make sure that in those structures of Government there is representation of war veterans, it would be easy to implement some of these ideas that we are talking about. But the 20% is only talked about but not supported by any law.
Thirdly, I sit in the Committee of Justice and there is one Samuel Rumana who presented a petition requesting Parliament to consider amendment of the Constitution for a quota for war veterans. That petition was accepted by Parliament, it went through the Committee, was deliberated and when we were just about to go for public hearings, the petition just fizzled into thin air. One then wonders where it went to or whether there was an instruction for the hearings not to be conducted, no one really knows. The dates had been set including sensitising the war veterans. The war veteran association coordinated to include their views but only to die a natural death. The war veterans’ department falls under the Ministry of Defence and the mandate of this Ministry is enshrined in the Defence Act and subjecting the department of war veterans or the War Veterans Act under the Ministry of Defence is actually not good for the war veterans. Ideally, I would have thought that if Government acknowledges that the Constitution gives war veterans priority, it is my recommendation that a separate Ministry be created so that it focuses primarily on the interests of war veterans and not subjecting it to the Ministry of Defence, which has got a vast responsibility to ensure the security protection of this country. Mr. Speaker Sir, everything else has been said and in summary, I just want to support those who are proposing a quota representation in Parliament for war veterans and the process had been started. Amendments can be done and everybody else in this country agrees that war veterans should be given a quota so that they protect the legacy of this nation. Youths have been given a quota but what are they there in Parliament to protect which is much more than what the war veterans can protect? Women have got a quota. What are they protecting in Parliament which war veterans protection is inferior? With that Mr. Speaker, given that the youths and women are there, I believe there is a very strong argument for war veterans to have a quota in Parliament. These are the ones who know the liberation history better. They are the ones who can protect the legacy of this country better and they can do so in Parliament where laws are made, where laws are implemented and where supervision of the State is done. There is nowhere else where war veterans can prefer than in Parliament. I so submit Mr. Speaker Sir.
+HON. S. K. MGUNI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to debate on the motion brought by Hon. Nguluvhe and seconded by Hon. Nduna. Firstly, the Constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear on what should be done for war veterans and I do not know what is failing us.
I now come to the issue of the quota system. I do not know what makes it difficult for the war veterans to be represented. I also look into the issue of the vetting process. It was started sometime ago but now it has died a natural death. War veterans in our constituencies are always asking us what is stalling the process. There are some who were assisting the war veterans during the liberation war. The process should be done and completed. Every time we are losing war veterans. They are dying, so who is going to be vetting them after they all die?
I will also talk of the funeral grant which is provided by the Government. Most of the war veterans’ insurance grants and funeral policies have been downgraded in anticipation that they are going to be assisted by Government when they die. I am suggesting that Government takes over all those funeral policies so that it is the one that pays for those funeral policies.
I will also talk of the widows and orphans of the war veterans. Our widows are suffering and I am of the opinion that the pension given to war veterans’ beneficiaries be increased to the amount that the deceased was getting when they were still alive instead of reducing it after the war veteran’s death. I propose that, that money should not be reduced upon the death of the war veteran.
Lastly, I will touch on the employment of the orphans of the war veterans. Government is educating children of the war veterans from lower level of education to university. I feel that about 20% of these children be absorbed and employed by the Government in the sectors like police and the army. We are hopeful that our President, as the listening President, will listen to these suggestions that have been put forward by Hon. Members. I thank you.
*HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. How are you Mr. Speaker Sir?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I am okay. Thank you very much.
*HON. R. R. NYATHI: I am so happy Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me the opportunity to debate on the motion that was moved by Hon. Nguluvhe and seconded by Hon. Nduna. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to debate in Shona about the issue and welfare of the war veterans. I was touched by the debates from the Members of the Opposition. They alluded to the issues of how our war veterans should be taken care of and what should be done for us to have peace in the country. For us to say Zimbabwe is liberated, we should acknowledge those who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of this country, those who went to war and fought with weapons those who had invaded our land, the colonisers and brought back the country to us.
It is now 43 years after we attained our independence and as we speak, there are people who lost their parents, brothers and sisters and do not know where they were buried. Until this day, they are not yet buried. I would not have done justice if I do not talk about the liberation of this country Zimbabwe, the people who sacrificed their lives to liberate this country. We grew up during the liberation struggle but we never got injured at any point. We have those who sacrificed their lives during the liberation struggle but up to this day, they got nothing out of it. Right now, some of us are taking our independence for granted. I say so because there are those people in our communities back there like village heads who do not acknowledge or see the importance of the work that was done by those who went to war to liberate this country. It actually shocks me to say that our country is liberated but to this date, if a war veteran dies and you look back at their lives, it is actually shocking. School fees is not being paid. A lot of essential things are not being catered for these war veterans. I know of an individual whose child is not going to school because they have no money to pay for the results. These are the people who made the good life that all of us are enjoying.
When war veterans die, let us not just write a pass only. We should actually cater for the deceased remaining family at large. Relevant Government departments should move in and cater for the lives of the deceased war veteran. It is also important to make sure that there is consistency in the pensions that they are getting. We should also consider the cost of living and the value of what they are getting as pension. We should not fail to consider this particular issue, to say how much are we giving them and does it change anything in their lives.
The children of war veterans – the blood of their mothers and fathers should safeguard the heritage left in their hands; the sacrifice that was done by their parents. We have a lot of war veterans who never got a pension or anything significant. I have a brother who never returned from the liberation struggle and we do not know where he was buried. The parents never got anything to say thank you, you gave birth to a son who sacrificed his life for the liberation of this country.
Let there be a quota of Members of Parliament who are war veterans…..
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, may you wind up. I do not think it is wise for you to repeat what has already been said.
(v)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: The other thing that is troubling me Mr. Speaker Sir, is the spirit of sacrifice and seeing the importance and valuing this country – having it at heart. For those who went to war, the main objective was to liberate this country and not looking forward to get anything because they knew that when we liberate this country, we will also be liberated. The unfortunate thing is that we have a generation that does not see the value or respect for this country. Every Zimbabwean who believes that we were liberated should cherish and wish well for the country. They should wish peace and freedom in an environment and spirit of uplifting this country. We acknowledge what the President does uplifting unity, peace and freedom. He always preaches peace and unity amongst Zimbabweans so that we remain as one.
Thank you very much Mr. Speaker for the opportunity you have given me to contribute so that we remain important as a country. We acknowledge the sacrifice that was done by many people so that we have a liberated Zimbabwe.
HON. TOGAREPI: I also come forward to add my voice to the report that was presented by Hon. Nguluvhe, seconded by Hon. Nduna wherein they looked at how Namibia and such nations are looking after their veterans of the liberation struggle. I know for sure that our Government since 1980, did something in recognising and also supporting freedom fighters. In 1980, some money was given to them. If I recall, it was equivalent to US$2000 of today. In 1997, $50 000 was paid to war veterans, mainly the ex-combatants. Pensions also have been paid to freedom fighters and hospital bills are being paid, meaning that Government is trying to look after the welfare of freedom fighters in general.
However, we need to review that policy to ensure that whatever we are trying to do in order to support these people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom is adequate. We are already challenged by our economic environment which has been sabotaged by enemies, those who colonised us but we need to deliberately come up with a policy that looks after the war veterans of the liberation struggle.
Remember most of them are advanced in terms of age. They will all go but are they going to go happily and peacefully. Whatever we are doing, is it enough for them to go peacefully saying we fought for our people and our people appreciate that we gave our lives to their freedom. If we have a war veteran who is still challenged in terms of their welfare - that is their health or accommodation, we need to then look at our policy, reexamine it and correct it so that our freedom fighters are looked after well.
It is very important that after independence, our Government realised that war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees lost opportunities and ties because of the war and they were liberating the people of this country. If they lost all those opportunities, our Government then thought of compensating freedom fighters not because that was the main reason, we had many grievances among the land, our right to vote but we should be humane in our approach because these people lost that time fighting to liberate us. If the policies that we have, the efforts that we have put in place in order to help these people socially in terms of their welfare, if all what we have done still we have freedom fighters requesting that their lives should be improved, we need to revisit what we have put in place.
Yes, we have put in place structures like the investment vehicles that have been put together by Government but how long will they materialise to give value to the expectations of war veterans, mujibas and chimbwidos and ex-detainees? These people are already advanced in age, when these structures bear fruit, half or a third of them will be probably dead. Why not put it in our fiscus so that we target improving the lives of freedom fighters and consult them so that they tell you what their immediate needs are. If you were to give a war veteran or old ambuya who cooked during the liberation struggle, if you want to give them a mine, will it make sense to these elderly people? Will they be able to benefit from these or they need an immediate benefit such as chronic diseases tablets in order to keep them healthy.
Therefore, from this report, we need to borrow what Namibia has done, add on what we have not yet done so that the situation of freedom fighters is improved and it has to be done like yesterday because they no longer have time.
I also want to particularly talk about war collaborators, 43 years down the line, they fought, where it happened, they were there. They have bullets in their bodies but up to now, nothing has been given to them. Yes, land should be given in their names recognising, rewriting or putting the history straight. If we are going to die with the history of this country skewed towards one particular group of the freedom fighters, it will be unfair. Let us have our history written correctly and clearly that there were people who fought in their various ways to free this country and 43 years down the line, they have not benefited.
We want to thank the Second Republic that they have come up with a vetting process to identify freedom fighters both war veterans who were not vetted in the initial vetting and the ex-detainees and war collaborators but after vetting, some have already died and how are we going to compensate these? The policy says only those who are living will benefit especially those who have not been vetted because of various reasons. What are we going to do? Why are we not expediting this process and having war collaborators, even if it is a medal, even if it is a dollar that you are going to give them, just give them for their souls to rest. They did this country proud, they fought for this country. Why should they die thinking that we can do something yet we are taking our time? They are not looking for millions, they are looking for proper recognition.
The Constitution is clear if you go to Section 84, ‘entitled to the recognition of their contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe and to suitable welfare such as pensions and access to basic health’. The Constitution has given us direction already and why are we not acting? If we are going to give them medical aid paid for by Government, do you think they will not appreciate that? Why are we waiting for huge monies where are they going to come from? We are sabotaged already, we are under extreme sanctions from the West. There is no time when we are going to have huge monies. Remember we are faced with a lot of competition in the political space. We are the only Government that is aware in reality of what war collaborators, war veterans, ex-detainees did to liberate this country. Anything that we procrastinate now is going to be paid for by freedom fighters failing to get what is promised in the Constitution.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say the report is an eye opener. Let us pick from it what they observed in Namibia and bring it into our own Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, in our own policies and practices in looking after freedom fighters. Let us take it from there, let us build houses for them in the rural areas so that they will die peacefully, with a heart of saying we fought for people who recognise what we did.
Why can we not do those small things, just medical aid being given to all those who have been vetted and succeeded. After all, the Government is already looking after all old age people, they go to hospital and they are treated freely. Let us give these freedom fighters in their name. It is not like if they were to benefit today and if I was to go to a hospital and am treated as somebody who is above 65-year-old, there is no problem. I can be treated but it will never be satisfying as much as it would be satisfying me like I would be saying, I have been treated freely because I am a freedom fighter.
So Mr. Speaker, let us do something. This Parliament should help Government to come up with improved laws or even in our budget. We need to debate and encourage Government to set aside resources to look after these people who are already aged but they gave their lives to the freedom of this country. It pains me whenever I meet freedom fighters. Whatever benefit I get either as an employed somebody somewhere or as a Member of Parliament, it came out of the sacrifice of these men and women. What have I done for them? Wherever we are, the Constitution states it clearly, we must respect them.
They stand in queues in banks and everywhere where things are being distributed, they do not have respect. Even Government departments do not respect war veterans, war collaborators or ex-detainees. They are looked at as nonentities in our society but we have a law, I have not seen it being enforced. What are we doing? Can we not come up with some form of identity for these freedom fighters so that they are recognised wherever they go instead of them introducing themselves to people who may have ulterior motives and requesting to be served first? If we give them badges, it would be easier for people to recognise them everywhere.
We will be doing good to our generations and our country and its foundation. These are people who must be respected. As long as we forget our history Mr. Speaker, we will be colonised again and as long as we do not respect those who gave their lives for the freedom of this country, we are making one mistake. We are already telling everyone who has not done anything for this country that it is not sensible to do so. It is not sensible to sacrifice for your country if fellow countrymen cannot appreciate that a freedom fighter or war veteran was ducking bullets for their freedom and we do not do anything. It is clear that everybody would then yearn and feel that something good has been done for freedom fighters. We are telling the young people that if anyone wants to invade Zimbabwe or fight us in future – nobody will want to sacrifice themselves if our current society cannot respect war veterans, the people who fought for the freedom of this country.
So I humbly request Mr. Speaker, through your Chair that we itemise everything that these Hon. Members discovered in Namibia and put it in juxtaposition with what we have already done for our people to see whether we can improve. Then we can bring in an amendment to our Act and ensure that everything is captured so that our freedom fighters can also be well looked after. We can even ask for Presidential Powers, if need be, and that is, if coming up with a law takes long.
The issue that was raised relating to a quota is long overdue. The majority of youths are already dying because of Mukozodo and drugs and are being recognised beyond people who brought freedom and made us. I am here today in Parliament which was full of whites, debating for the rights and future of this country because of our freedom fighters. I cannot recognise war veterans and we cannot even include them in policy making issues. Yes, we have war veterans as Ministers, in various Government departments, and in Parliament. Let us give them positions in their name. Those who got that opportunity to do so was because of their own effort but let us give them. We will be paying tribute even to those who are long dead. Whatever we do, we are not only doing it for the war veterans who are walking today but we will be doing it for those who are buried in unknown graves; whose remains cannot be recovered for reburial. We should do this in recognition of freedom fighters who fought for the liberation of this country.
It is something that is very touching Mr. Speaker, when we see veterans of the liberation struggle struggling to survive. We recognise what Government is doing; we appreciate it fully and respect it that children of war veterans have been sent to school – we appreciate that. We are saying that we need a more deliberate and radical approach. War veterans are getting old and many of them now have diseases and may be dying – let us thank them, for this limited period that they are left with on this earth in a comfortable way and so forth.
I really want this Parliament, together with the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, to sit down, look at what the Namibians, Mozambicans, South Africans and Angolans have done for their freedom fighters and improve our own. We were the pioneers in recognising our war veterans on the attainment of Independence hence we cannot now be left behind by other countries. Let us improve the welfare of our war veterans and make sure that they are happy in their last steps towards leaving this earth.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Hon. Members who debated on this motion. It is something touching to me. I feel for those who have not been looked after or given what is due to them, it is critical that the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans expedites. Whatever is going to be awarded, we are not looking for millions. Freedom fighters are not greedy, they gave their lives without even knowing what they would get. People must not be worried about how much compensation will be awarded to freedom fighters. They never asked for money but we are only saying as Zimbabweans said in this Constitution, Sections 23 and 84 state that they must be given attention as people who gave us freedom. So we need to do it, this came from the people of Zimbabwe. Let us implement it.
We can only do that if we look at other examples of what other people are doing or rather what even our enemies are doing. The Americans are looking after those who bombed and killed innocent people in Iraq yet our freedom fighters fought for our freedom. We need to look after them. Mr. Speaker, as Parliament and Government, should review our current laws and what we are doing for our freedom fighters. We should review our laws and align them to those of other regional neighbours. We should strive to present any changes to our current laws to Government before the end of this Ninth Parliament.
I am sure that with the Second Republic, what we have learnt, they are very responsive if we bring in things that are correct and responsible. The Second Republic is here to act and I can say this with confidence that if this report goes to the Minister and the Minister responds to it in this Parliament with our recommendations, we may see ourselves making history as the Ninth Parliament for improving the welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Thank you very much Hon. Chief Whip. What you contributed is very touching, brilliant and so pertinent. I just hope that the last point you have raised is not going to fatten the Hansard. That clarion call that you made, that action has to be taken, I just hope that action has to be taken because this is very important. Thank you very much Chief Whip.
HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. PRISCILLA MOYO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 4th April, 2023.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI seconded by HON. PRISCILLA MOYO, the House adjourned at Twenty-Four Minutes to Six o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 4th April, 2023.