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SENATE HANSARD 01 JULY 2020 VOL 29 NO 41
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday 1st July, 2020
The Senate met at Half -past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE
APPOINTMENT AS NEW MDC CHIEF WHIP
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the Senate that Hon. Sen. Dr. Mavetera has been appointed as the new MDC Chief Whip in the Senate.
VACANCIES IN THE SENATE
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: On 30th June 2020, Parliament was notified by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party that the following senators had ceased to be Members of the MDC-T party and therefore no longer represent the interests of the party in Parliament with effect from 30 June, 2020.
- Sen. K. Chabuka (Manicaland Province)
- Sen. S. Ncube (Bulawayo Province)
- Sen. P. Ndhlovu (Matebeleland North Province)
- Sen. M. Phuti (Matebeleland South Province)
- Sen. G. Shoko (Bulawayo Province)
- Sen. H. Sinampande (Matebeleland North Province)
- Sen. T. Vunganayi (Mashonaland East Province)
- Sen. H. Zivira (Bulawayo Province)
Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a Member when elected to Parliament, and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or to the President of the Senate as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it. Pursuant to the above, I do hereby inform the Senate that vacancies have arisen in the Provinces stated above by the operation of the law. The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of the existence of the vacancies in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2(13) as amended.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam President, I move that Order of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 3 has been disposed of. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE BILL [H.B.15, 2019]
Third Order read: Second Reading: Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill [H.B.15, 2019].
THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI) – Madam President, I rise to present to you the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill, which I am pleased is now at the Second Reading stage. The drafting of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill is in line with His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe’s national agenda to align all laws to the Constitution. To satisfy this requirement, we initiated the alignment process by carrying out stakeholder consultations and outcomes from the consultative workshops were used to develop principles which led to the drafting of the Bill. The Bill was approved at Cabinet level, gazetted, presented in Parliament and went through all the necessary procedures to this stage where we are presenting it before the Senate.
I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the deliberations that took place in the National Assembly during the Second Reading stage after the report of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. Due to the very valid recommendations, as a Ministry we had to amend the term ‘liberation war fighter’ to ‘war veteran’, ‘temporary refugee camps’ to ‘transit camps.’ A consideration was also made on the inclusion of the Commander Defence Forces in the War Veterans Board as the majority of the members were against this provision. The Ministry conceded to the suggestion of the removal of this provision. Hence, it was amended to the effect that the Chairperson of the board has to be a war veteran.
There are other issues that were raised during the debate which are not directly linked to the Bill. I undertook that my Ministry would address them in the appropriate forums and we have since started addressing these issues. Examples of such issues include recognition of those who died during the war lobbying for a day to honour the living veterans and issues to do with re-burials of foreign heroes. It is quite commendable to note the interest and desire by the whole House in this Bill. We all agreed that legal recognition of the Veterans of the liberation struggle is long overdue and that we should expedite this process.
It is also important Hon. Members, that I give a brief background of principles behind the Bill and overally, the purpose of aligning laws relating to the liberation struggle. The purpose of the Bill is to align the existing legislation to the Constitution. The proposed Bill seeks to repeal the War Veterans Act, Chapter 11 (15), the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act, Chapter 17 (10) and provide for one consolidated Act called the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, which provides for all categories of veterans of the liberation struggle that are provided for in Section 23 of the Constitution as who fought, those who assisted and those who were imprisoned, detained or restricted.
The Bill clearly distinguishes the four categories by defining veterans of the liberation struggle as a war veteran, an ex-political prisoner, detainee or restrictee or a person who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation. That is to say, a war collaborator or a non-combatant cadre. It is important to note at this point that each category has its own definition provided for in the Bill showing that they are not the same. Accordingly and without derogation from Section 86 of the Constitution and Section 21 of the Interpretation Act, Chapter 1 (1) statutory instruments will be provided to cater for the different benefits to be granted or paid to different categories of veterans of the liberation struggle.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe, Amendment Number 20 Act, 2130 clearly provides the basis upon which the Bill was drafted. It explicitly recognises the liberation struggle as an important part of the history of the country which should always have an influence in the way the country is governed. The preamble exalts and extols the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the chimurenga, umvukela and national liberation struggle. Section 3 of the Constitution provides for the recognition and respect for the liberation struggle as well as recognition of the rights of the veterans of the liberation struggle as some of the enduring founding values and principles of good governance of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe also obligates the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level to accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle. The same section also obligates the State to take reasonable measures, including legislative measures for the welfare and economic empowerment of veterans of the liberation struggle.
Section 84 prescribes as fundamental, entrenched and inalienable rights on the entitlement of veterans of the liberation struggle to due recognition for their contribution to the liberation struggle and to suitable welfare such as pensions and access to basic care through an Act of Parliament. The Bill was therefore drafted to show an explicit link between itself and the Constitution, thus complying with the supreme law. It is not the intention of the Bill to take away any benefit that a war veteran or detainee is currently getting. Rather, it seeks to add other categories that participated in the liberation struggle which were recognised in the current Constitution.
In light of the above, I urge Hon. Members to support and pass this vital law in order to accord the veterans of the liberation struggle due recognition as enshrined in the Constitution. Madam President, I move that the Bill be now read a second time. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President, I do not expect many people to oppose this Bill but if we just keep quiet, it will be as if it just passed through without enough debate. I doubt if there is anyone from whichever side who will be against this Bill. I say so because everyone from all sides applauded the introduction of the Bill as soon as it was mentioned. With this Bill, I believe we will get to where we wanted to go - taking into considering the fate of war veterans and war collaborators who went through difficulties during the liberation struggle.
I do not think the Senate will sit for long today because we cannot keep on repeating what Hon. Senators already know. I am talking about the legacy of this country and not making reference to other countries because I may get lost. Our country has a unique history, other countries have gone through the liberation struggle but this is specifically about Zimbabwe.
Madam President, if you remember what happened to this country, the coming of the colonialists, the opposition and taking over of this country from the traditional leaders and assuming that this had become their country. Imagine even in this Parliament there was no black person but right now we are here so this is all because some people sacrificed a lot for that. At the University of Zimbabwe there were hostels reserved for white students only like Manfred and Swindon, they were no go areas for black students though we were all students and sometimes blacks doing better in class than the whites.
May the Hon. Minister who presented this Bill fast track this Bill. It is not really about just giving people money to say this is the honour that they deserve. We have seen such wording in the law that talks about traditional leaders - I want that section to be highlighted. On allowances, war veterans must earn money that will enable them to live a decent life. A war veteran should be able to be identified and not walk barefooted or with worn out shoes. They should look presentable and not suffer because they suffered a lot during the liberation struggle, the difficulties that they went through are enough. Our President of the Senate is a war veteran, she was in Chimoio and she survived the bombing that took place there. We are proud of her and that is the real history of this country.
Even if our children oppose us, no matter what happened and how learned they are, we must teach them to support and respect war veterans. The other thing that I would like to add in terms of benefits is if civil servants’ salaries are reviewed, their allowances should also be reviewed and they must receive them timeously. Sometimes you see civil servants’ salaries reviewed and it will take a long time and a lot of paper work for the same to be done to war veterans, why can they not get their salaries timeously?
If we pass this Bill, we are going to discover that real war veterans will start emerging. We must have a plan on how these people will be vetted. There are some war veterans in the rural areas but some of them were not vetted and recognised but the clever ones managed to be registered, even fake war veterans. Most of the war veterans who participated in the liberation struggle live in the rural areas and not in urban areas. So all the meetings and vetting processes should be done in the rural areas and the process should be all inclusive and not exclude other people. War veterans know each other some may not be known but in the rural areas they are well known.
The authentic ones must start getting benefits whilst we vet others. We must come up with a plan that will help us to correct our past mistakes. On detainees, they also deserve attention and it should not be by lucky. Some people will fail to be recognised and others are recognised easily, some people like Comrade Kuretu are well known. Some people stay far away in the rural areas and they have to travel all the way to ZANU PF Headquarters in Harare. I am suggesting that the process should be decentralized. If some people stay very far in the rural areas yet they have to travel all the way to ZANU PF Headquarters in Harare, the places should be decentralised. If we correct that, I think that will be very good and after this Bill is passed, there are a lot of expectations. After the new dispensation, the war veterans are now quiet because they believe that the new dispensation will address their concerns. So, if that happens, the results must be seen, the law should ensure that there are corrections that may be seen and it must exclude fake war veterans who only manage to benefit because they are cunning.
We expect that this will bring a lot of joy even as far as land distribution is concerned. There are people seating on hundreds of hectares of land yet real war veterans only have a few hectares where there is no water or non-arable land. This is the time for us to rectify this. All deserving war veterans should be allocated farms and they should be given farm implements instead of just allocating them non-arable lands.
When you allocate those war veterans land, you need also to give them support services from the Ministry of Agriculture and also facilitate Agritex officers and other support services. We see some people boasting because they went to school but these people failed to go to school simply because they chose to go to the Liberation Struggle. Therefore, let us give them due recognition. Let us proceed and may this Bill pass so that we all rejoice in this country.
+HON. SEN. MKWEBU: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to air my views on this War Veterans Bill. Hon. Minister, thank you very much for bringing in this Bill. The whole of Zimbabwe was looking forward to this Bill. They were asking a questions as to when this Bill is going to be passed. Most of the people who contributed in the country’s independence have passed on; it is just a few who are remaining. Most of them have died because of poverty.
Therefore, I am saying I accept this Bill with both hands. Some war veterans got land and some did not get it. Those who did not get land did not get anything to assist them because banks needed collateral. So, these war veterans who do not have anything that they are doing at the present moment do not have any way of bringing in collateral that is required by our banks.
With this Bill, it is now going to be easy for everyone to really look at everyone who contributed in the country’s independence and get help on every other issue that they will be complaining about. I got peace especially on Section 33 of the Bill because it includes the three sections which are war collaborators, detainees and war veterans. There are so many people that are still suffering but with this Bill, it is going to be easy for those people who did not get anything to get something that will assist them in life.
Madam President, there are so many things that we need to count on as issues that are remaining behind that really need to be looked into in the three sections. That is why I am supporting this Bill to say if it is passed in this august House, war veterans will be honoured greatly. We still have other war veterans who have not gone through the vetting process and some are still going through that vetting process.
Therefore we are saying, Members of Parliament, you are not representing us because you are not saying anything about our issues. So, today I am presenting this issue in this august House to say these people from the three sections are crying saying we need help. Therefore, I am grateful that this Bill is being tabled here. I thank you.
HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: I would like also to support the matter that has been raised by Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira. If it were put in our own vernacular language, I would say, today we have hit the nail on the head. I would say we have achieved what we have been looking for. The respect that we got from the war that we protracted in 1972; I went to Gambia where an education meeting was taking place. The Chairperson wanted to find out if there was anyone from the new Zimbabwe. I was a bit apprehensive and later on I got up.
I was told that the Gambian President would want to see you tomorrow morning. I did not sleep well because I thought I was going to be arrested. I was not aware that the President of that nation would invite me. However, I met him in his office and went into a discussion in English. The Gambian President wanted to know how in our country we were able to fight against whites defeating them. In response, I told him it is true we are able to do that. He was amazed.
So, he said he found it befitting that he would not mis this chance to talk to me and learn from our experience. I explained to him what I knew about the Zimbabwean Liberation Struggle. He said that he had not heard anything like that in any African country.
So, our reputation in terms of pursuing our liberation was known the world over. Zimbabweans are not people to play around them, once they have said no to a particular ideology; they will stand by their word.
Some of the war veterans are now deceased and some are still alive, so we should remember most importantly the children of the war veterans. Their welfare should be good enough; they should be well kept as you have been doing all the time. I decided to stand and add my voice that Zimbabwe is not any easy nation, once we have said no; it would be indeed a no and if we say ‘yes,’ we mean that, we are a people of our word. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President. I rise to say this particular Bill was long overdue. As we all know, war veterans did a splendid job, it was a wonderful job as alluded to by Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira. As a result of that protracted struggle, we are here today. However, if today you come across a war veteran, you feel pity and you find your eyes welling with tears because of their pathetic welfare. A lot of things have already been mentioned and I advocate that they be given land and put amongst the high echelons of society because they are the ones who liberated us.
Through you Madam President, Hon. Minister you brought this Bill, the war veterans should be given their proper place in the Zimbabwean society and they should also receive whatever is due to them. They should not be found queuing, they should be given their due respect and whenever anything is being shared, a quota should be reserved for the war veterans. They need not struggle as they were during the liberation struggle.
My question to the Hon. Minister regarding vetting is; we have war veterans who died before being vetted; I want to find out if the vetting provided for in the Bill is for those who are alive and have their witnesses? What considerations are going to be put in place or modalities that are going to be done to deal with those who died before they came in to Zimbabwe? There are war veterans who died during the liberation struggle and some of them left children and others left their parents behind because they have not yet been married because they went there as small children. I want to know what considerations have been put in place for these war veterans or they have just been forgotten. This is because they did a good job but unfortunately died and could not return back to Zimbabwe but it was their wish that they would also witness the birth of a new Zimbabwe and enjoy the wealth and the new life that the new Zimbabwe brought.
During the liberation struggle, we were told that we would enjoy freedom once we reach our homeland Zimbabwe. May the Minister please explain regarding that particular section as it pertains this particular group of war veterans as they conduct this vetting. I thank the Hon. Minister and I believe that the war veterans are going to be joyful as a result of the enactment of this particular Bill and the war veterans are going to be easily distinguished by the benefits which they are going to derive from the State as a result of having liberated us to enjoy the new Zimbabwe. I thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. RAMBANEPASI: Hon. Minister, as Christine Rambanepasi from Buhera, I want to thank you for brining this Bill In 1976 on the 4th of September, liberation fighters came to our village and we witnessed the war. You may be surprised that we might be talking of the liberation struggle and saw the liberation war as those who are sitting on the left side, it is common. I was a war collaborator and I was a chairperson of those doing the laundry and my liberation war name was Muchaneta Mabhunu. We may be happy but the middle finger that pulled the trigger brought independence to Zimbabwe. There is no one in this august House who may argue. If we have one, I will be surprised as to how they came to Senate because the Smith Regime put up a fight for a country that did not belong to them. People were arrested and detained in Whawha Prison. I know of a woman who was detained and a few years later after her release, she passed on. She died without having received anything.
Hon. Minister, we want to thank you so much. We strongly support this Bill. I am going back to Buhera on Friday and I will gather all the old people who are either war veterans or war collaborators and tell them that the Hon. Minister said that you are going to receive your compensation. You know, Hon. Muchinguri is of the totem Masibanda, she is good. Yes, I am a Member of the opposition but politics is a way of life. If it was a vote, I was going to give you 20 votes out of one. I thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to debate on this Bill tabled here by Hon. Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri. Firstly, I would like to say I support this Bill as a Senator but also as a rural settler. This Bill is being brought by my fellow rural neighbour. However, this Bill is long overdue Madam President. Nevertheless, it is better late than never. What it means is that I hope, there will be progress now because it has taken long to come. Some people know me because I participated in soccer and I am also a life president of Dynamos Football Club. Many people know me because they like Dynamos and some of them are war veterans. Imagine such important people who liberated this country and went through all those difficulties during the liberation struggle asking me to allow them to watch soccer matches for free because they could not afford to pay the requisite fees.
My heart would bleed because war veterans would beg me to watch soccer for free. Imagine a person who liberated this country who has to beg to watch international soccer matches now. Today, I am very happy because even if it is late – I think that today is a milestone achievement. My proposal is for all the war veterans to have better packages besides land because most of them can no longer till those pieces of land due to old age I think we should find better packages that can suite them. Imagine giving them untilled virgin land after 40 years of Independence. I propose that each one of them be given good houses so that they can just drink their tea since most of them are old – they are my age mates. How can I go to a farm at this age? I am too old to do that and such activities are for young generations that we liberated. Those farms should be reserved for our future generations so that this country can be self-sustaining in terms of food.
I concur with the point that was raised by a previous speaker that their children should be given jobs or projects to embark on. Whilst I am very active in soccer, most of the people that I knew as sellouts – some of them were in the special branches of the colonial Government. As a carpenter by profession, one day I was hired by a former member of the special branch. After the war, this person was able to buy seven houses from his gratuities, for participating in the liberation struggle, from the Rhodesian Government. I found it very difficult to accept because I suspected that the person must have been one of those people who was responsible for the disappearance of some of our comrades yet war veterans are suffering.
I have grand children in the rural areas and I buy second hand clothes for them or even clothes and shoes that I no longer use. How would you feel if God were to come today, he would say, ‘I gave you authority to liberate yourselves from your oppressors - what are you doing?’ God will tell us today, ‘I gave you this country yet some of you are suffering’. This Bill is very good and I thank you very much because I feel that if I go to the rural areas, I will be very happy. I am going to inform them that this will be the last time that I dole out second hand clothes because now you are going to be given good houses and your welfare will be taken care of.
This is what happened, the Rhodesian Forces were given very good gratuities such as farms and houses and those are the people we chased away from the farms during the Land Reform Programme. This is a very progressive Bill even though it is coming now. I think that you should also endeavour to do a lot of good things for those war veterans who are still alive and take good care of their health. I meet some of them at PSMAS and they would confess that they do not even have transport money to commute back home. The State muar take good care of them by providing medical insurance and giving them preferential treatment when they go to hospitals. They should also have access to specialist services because this is the time. At least they may be able to forget that we forgot them once upon a time.
I would like to thank you very much Hon. Minister through you Madam President. Hon. Minister, I urge you to keep it up and I think God will bless you with many more years so that you take care of war veterans. When you take good care of war veterans, we will also be blessed when war veterans get good things in life. We will also be able to flourish. I thank you.
+HON. SEN. M. NDLOVU: I would like to thank you Madam President and also thank the Hon. Minister of Defence and War Veterans for tabling this Bill.
The time that we were waiting for is here. We would like to express our joy for what Government is doing for the comrades that fought for this country. Even when they get to that time whereby they die, they get burial that does not deserve their honour. If I take for example in Bulawayo, when someone dies they are buried on a hill. Some of them if they get to a point of being given recognition of national hero, they come to be buried at the Heroes Shrine from a lodging place. They do not have places of their own.
We thank you Hon. Minister because you are one of them and you really respect them. This is the time for people to really air out their voices about war veterans for they are the people who fought for this country. Yes, each time issues to do with war veterans are discussed some people always say no, they do not deserve that because they are aged. Yes, we have children who were left by comrades. Some of them who were not vetted, some of those children engage in prostitution because their parents did not get enough compensation to take care of them.
We really want their widows to be looked after because their fallen husbands fought for this country. We have other comrades who got amputated during the war and are finding it difficult to fend for themselves and their families. For those that got amputated, if you look at the crutches that they are using, most of them are deplorable. The people that they fought for are living lavishly and putting on nice clothes, yet the comrades are walloping in poverty.
Thank you Hon. Minister and we would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Hon. President because as one of the war veterans who went to war in countries like Zambia, I really know the difficulties that war veterans faced during the struggle. We really appreciate the job that we did and we fully support the Bill that you have brought.
*HON. SEN. TSOMONDO: Madam President, I would like to thank the Minister of Defence and War Veterans for bringing this Bill. I feel so much touched and disturbed and pray to God that I will be able to finish my speech because I think a million times we have been proposing for this. We were oppressed during the liberation struggle and I am one of those who participated in the liberation struggle.
The liberation struggle was prosecuted by both men and women but before we grow to become men and women, we were also boys and girls. For women, during menstruation period it was very difficult. For some, as soon as they crossed the borders they would no longer menstruate but for those who would menstruate they would use leaves from trees. Our parents who remained behind were very disturbed. We would not be allowed to walk in the First Street and all those areas where today you rejoice and go to. You would be arrested for even owning a television.
The war veterans are suffering especially those in the rural areas and in the border lying areas. Some of them are not able to take their children to school because they cannot afford to take their kids to school. I would like to say after all these 40 years, I am happy finally that Bill has come to Parliament. I knew this Bill would come to this House because the liberation struggle was led by spirit mediums. All the things that were said by our ancestors, I knew that they would be fulfilled.
So I would like to thank those who organised this Bill and the Minister for remembering the comrades today because they are suffering very much. It is by God’s grace that I stand here as an MP today, as a war veteran but fellow comrades are suffering out there. If this Bill comes to their attention, I know that they would be very much happy when they get to know that such a Bill was debated. Madam President, I am very grateful to Hon. Minister Muchinguri for bringing this Bill. This is a very good Bill which will bring relief to the war veterans because they are suffering. They do not have access to tractors or implements. You cannot till a farm using a hoe. I would like to say, may this Bill also include various resources that are used in agriculture because they also want tractors. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: I am very happy for this Bill that has come to this House even if sometimes it is said that nemesis cannot agree on one thing. For us, it was long overdue that these war veterans get a relief because they were suffering a lot and it was also painful to us. We would see them suffering as well as their children. Sometimes some of those who did not go to war were better off than those who went to the liberation struggle.
In 1980, we realised that some of those who were sitting pretty in urban areas run to be accredited as war collaborators yet they did not even go to war. At one point, I attempted to be vetted as a war collaborator but I was chased away. How could I go away yet I was talking about what I knew. I thank the chief for saying that there are some people who would come and masquerade as war collaborators yet they are not genuine. I told someone at some point that I saw them at a base. They were not war veterans but war collaborators yet they got benefits that were supposed to be given to war veterans. It was so painful to me that such a person got what they did not deserve yet we were war collaborators together.
I am grateful that when a second round of vetting took place it was noticed that he was fake and purporting to be a war veteran. He is the only one who was caught yet some are still masquerading as war veterans. Sometimes you realise that those who are clever masquerade and are successful yet those who may be genuine do not get the recognition they deserve because some of the people are fake war veterans. I do not know whether it is possible for a revival in terms of vetting, because some of the people are fake war veterans. If re-vetting could take place, I am sure they will be discovered and weeded out.
I am very grateful that today the war veterans are recognised and acknowledged. It was very difficult. We went through curfews. There were a lot of no go areas but the war veterans liberated us to an extent all those curfews and restrictions were removed. It is because of the war veterans. Today there are a lot of us women in this House. I am not sure what the figures were during the colonial era, but I would like to thank the war veterans. Even if we differ politically on this one, no one can oppose this. We agree totally on this.
If we go to apply for land, sometimes we are chased away – even if I tell them that I was a war collaborator though I joined MDC. They tell me that I am a sellout, but anyway that is all in the past. I am very grateful to the Minister of Defence and War Veterans – thank you very much for bringing this Bill. From today, please ensure the speedy processing of this law so that war veterans are compensated whilst the money still has value. Give them money which they can use and take care of their families. I thank you Mr. President.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I urge Hon. Sen. to speak to the terms of this Bill. The Bill which the Minister of Defence and Home Affairs brought is specific in terms of the contents.
*HON. SEN. M. R. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank the Minister of Defence. I am very happy today because this affects everyone who is in this country from Tsholotsho to Mutare.
A war veteran was a laughing stock – if you wanted to tease someone you would tease them using war veterans. They were people who were looked down upon. My husband would pay fees for people who died in the liberation struggle in Zambia. Sometimes I would wonder why he was doing that – I thought he was taking care of children he got out of wedlock. Now I understand the struggles that they went through. I really thank you for taking care of the needs of the war veterans or for recognising them. I think the President has a hand on this because all along these issues were debated yet no action was taken. This time around, something has been done. Thank you Minister but I urge you to also take care of the wives of the war veterans and their children.
May they also get first preference because sometimes they would travel all the way to sort out their things but they would be told that their husband’s details are not in the system. Widows of war veterans should not go through all these difficult processes. They should be assisted expeditiously. For those who are since departed, there is nothing we can do, but for those who are alive, please assist them.
There is a couple that I know that went for vetting in Lupane. The husband was successful but the woman was told to come on another day – that woman became a laughing stock because she was not successful when vetting happened. With those few words, I salute you Minister.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I would like to remind Hon. Sen. to avoid what is termed in our Standing Orders as ‘tedious repetition’.
*HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to also debate on this Bill.
I stand here with a very painful heart because we stand here to today and it is 40 years after independence, yet that is only now that we are debating how those people who liberated us can be taken care of. We owe them an apology.
I would like to applaud the Minister for coming up with this Bill which - like what my fellow Hon. Sen. said was long overdue. For those things that should be done to the war veterans, I think it should be implemented quickly.
Looking at the vetting issue for the board, when the Minister appoints board members I think the Minister should appoint members who understand the liberation struggle because at times people with little or no understanding of the subject are supposed to deal with war veterans matters. The war veterans are our legacy. Other countries like America still honour their war veterans like those that participated in the Vietnam War. That shows that such people must be given honour and respect.
Looking at the definition of the war collaborator in the Bill, I think the war veterans know very well who war collaborators were. The definition leaves out some people. For example, I was a war collaborator at the age of 14. Some people of my age group are mentally disturbed to this day. There was an incident where a sellout was supposed to be executed, that war collaborator was given a bayonet to do the killing. To date that person is still mentally disturbed. So war collaborators are well known but the problem is the sellouts who rushed to be vetted and recognised. So, I feel that definition will leave out some people and some deserving war collaborators will not be incorporated. I remember one Comrade Tongombeya who participated in the war and to date that comrade is mentally disturbed. So, Hon. Minister that definition should include people who were on the ground. The problem is that sometimes when we want a Bill drafted, we ask people who never participated in the war of liberation simply because of their education but it clearly shows that the person did not experience the war but they are mere academics. I am sure the Minister understood that.
The other thing that I would like to point out is the health welfare of those people who participated in the liberation struggle from 1980 to date, some of the comrades are neglected. Some of them are suffering mentally because of their experiences during the liberation struggle. From 1980 to date there was no deliberate efforts to look at the psychological impact of the war on our veterans. Those who know say there is something called post traumatic stress disorder. It can destroy. If you see some behaviour by war veterans people end up saying that is what the war veterans do but you are not aware that it is trauma from experiences from the war which has not been added in the Bill. So when we say to support medical bills that is too general. We are not targeting what happened on the ground because the Bill drafters do not understand what transpired in the war. This Bill is conspicuous by the absence of that deliberate effort to address the trauma which is still being experienced as I speak right now. So it is like we have not done anything. I implore the Minister to review the word medical. We are acting like people who do not know what happened yet we know. Let us state that those who are still suffering from their experiences during the war should be assisted. They are even failing to look after their families because of the trauma they experienced and because we are not knowledgeable we say they are suffering from killing people during the war, what an insult. So if we do not address this I think….
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order. Order, you should stick to one language. If you decide to debate in English debate in English and if you decide to debate in Shona by all means debate in Shona. If you mix the two languages it is a problem for the people who are transcribing what you are saying.
*HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President, it happens when you become emotional. It is because I am talking from experience that I become emotional. I think I have made my point to the Minister that this Bill is empty if it remains written medical. It does not help us in any way because we will have failed to identify and address the problem and we become like people who are not knowledgeable.
With those few words I would like to thank the Minister for having for the first time a Bill considering everything that transpired in the war and unifying everyone who fought for our Independence. We used to have pieces of legislation which brought disunity amongst people. Some would say it was not just firing the gun that brought independence. Everyone took part in the struggle. But this Bill now recognises everyone as war veterans and proper identification of who is who will be done and I think we should thank the Minister for that. We have come to a point where everyone who was involved in our independence will be appreciated and given recognition. I think our Constitution in its preamble tells us to respect all those who took part in liberating us. I want to thank you once again Hon. Minister.
*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to say a few words towards this War Veterans Bill brought by the Minister. Let me start by thanking the Minister for the Bill. Just for me, Violet, to stand up in this House is because of the war veterans who selflessly went to liberate this country, otherwise I would not be here. This is not an issue where we can debate whether we differ or not. We may differ on other issues but not on this one. Most of the points were mentioned by other Hon. Members and all I would like to say is give the war veterans what they deserve. We do not want to beg but as Senate, we would like to say they must be given what they deserve. There are some people who came in this Senate as good people yet they are very bad people and they are corrupt. They own houses from border to border whilst a war veteran does not have a single house. Mr. President Sir, give them stands to build houses in urban areas, as well as rural areas. If possible, give them houses.
I would like to also go on to say, there are some people who fraudulently acquired recognition as war veterans but if we refer to the chiefs, all the chiefs know the war veterans who went to liberate this country. All the chiefs who are here know the number of people who went out to war. So, this issue of vetting should not be how fluent you are in English but the chiefs should be involved. People who hijacked this process were sitting pretty in the urban areas and did not even go to war; they were able to narrate very well the history of a certain area. There are some people who hijacked the process. There are some people who were maimed and some of them can no longer hear and yet they were not recognised as war veterans.
In Chegutu where I come from, there is a certain war veteran called Mr. Rusike. There was a time when war veterans were given $50 000 gratuities. The sister of that man was married to a certain Mr. Musariri. She took the money and bought her brother a house. She persuade her maid to be married to that man. The young lady got married to the man and gave birth to a baby boy. All of a sudden, the post war traumas came up and the man started harassing his wife. I would like to thank the Minister for coming up with this Bill because some people are sitting pretty who may not be deserving, whilst the war veterans are suffering. Some have vast tracts of land white war veterans do not have anything. Mr. President Sir, may you hand over the vetting process to the chiefs because they know the people who went to join the liberation struggle. The chiefs know all the people who came back and those who died during the liberation struggle. Thank you Mr. President.
+HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity you have given me to add my voice to this Bill. I may repeat what has been aired already, but the reason is everyone was waiting for this Bill. This means that the wait has been long and God has given us this opportunity to deliberate on it. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister of Defence and War Veterans for bringing this Bill to this august Senate. War veterans were asking us questions now and again as to when this Bill is going to be passed. We accept it as the august Senate saying war veterans are people who are facing a number of difficulties at this moment and time.
We are grateful that this Bill is going to make it a point that war veterans will be looked after. However, I would want to reiterate on the aspect of vetting. When the vetting exercise was carried out, a number of war veterans did not take part as some of them were out of the country and others did not take the exercise seriously. Right now, they are back into the country and they are all aged and you can see that they are wallowing in poverty. Therefore, Mr. President Sir, when this vetting exercise is carried out, we request that people with appropriate expertise are brought into the panel of those carrying out the exercise. Most of these people are now mentally sick. They are part of us; they are going through difficulties because what they encountered during the liberation struggle as highlighted by the previous speaker continue to haunt them. If the vetting exercise is not carried out by people who have appropriate expertise about the war and its repercussions, some war veterans may not get the appropriate help because some of them have lost their minds due to war experiences.
We are grateful for this Bill. Some of the war veterans are dying Mr. President. The Minister should know that war veterans continue to die. If I remember, last week there were about ten war veterans who passed on in Tsholotsho and most of them are dying and get to be buried without the appropriate honour conferred to them. Therefore, it is important for us to know that nowadays they are dying in numbers. The remaining few should be well looked after. War veterans in the communities are facing more challenges such that they are now being given names that describe their poverty yet they are the people who fought for the independence of the country. Even with detainees, we request that there is critical analysis in their vetting exercise. Right now, we have people claiming to be detainees, yet they are 20 years old. How old were they when they were arrested. Therefore, this Bill is going to rectify all these anomalies.
The passing of this Bill will make the late war veterans smile if they were to see us. They would express their happiness with what is included in the Bill. War veterans are people that are being looked down upon by the communities that we come from yet they are people who brought independence that we enjoy today. Thank you so much, we are grateful for this Bill as it is going to make people in the rural area understand war veterans concerns. In the rural areas, female war veterans are wallowing in poverty and some of them died without being given the honour that they deserve. I hope this Bill is going to bring about appropriate statistics of female war veterans in the rural areas so that they get appropriate help that they deserve.
A number of them did not get farms and it is critical for them to get farms even if they are old now, their children will continue to make proper use of those farms. This will bring about peace to our children as they will have something to inherit from their parents instead of continuing to suffer yet their parents are the ones who liberated this country. This Bill clearly shows that there is a mother figure who is the Minister of Defence and War Veterans who fought for this country who encountered all the challenges that the rest of the war veterans encountered. Thank you again for the fact that in this august Senate, there are a number of people that suffered for this country including the Hon. Madam President of the Senate. This makes us happy and comfortable knowing that we have people who will remember some of us. We are grateful for this Bill and it is my wish that it is accepted and passed because it will bring happiness to those that are remaining. In the rural areas, war veterans are really suffering. I do not have much to say; I just wanted to contributed as I could not just sit. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Thank you Mr. President. I feel very honoured because of the support I am on from this Bill. This Bill comes after all what the Zimbabweans witnessed in 2013 that they were outstanding issues that needed to be addressed in terms of giving honour to the war veterans and that happened in 2013. Nothing was done according to the welfare of war veterans and ex-detainees. We had the 1998 Act that covered all what has been talked here. We have introduced this Bill so that we will correct all the mistakes that have been alluded to in this Senate.
Most of the things that you have mentioned are there in the Bill. I want to thank you Hon. Senators for your contributions. I understand that people are emotional but I want to say to the Hon. Senate that this Bill is in favour of war veterans, ex detainees that their welfare be looked into. We are also looking into the dependents of these people. I would like however to say when we speak of children, we are talking of children below the age of 18 because over 18 years of age, they are no longer children as per our Constitution. We also want to include the muchibhas and those who went to Mozambique for training but were not trained using rea; gunsbut they were trained using sticks and doing everything, those people also sacrificed during the liberation struggle and must be recognised. We did not change anything for the worse but we are changing for the better.
There must be a fund from this Senate that looks into the welfare of the war veterans like medical bills. Now they are being treated in both public and private hospitals. They used to be treated in public hospitals only but now they can be attended to at private hospital. This Bill also looks at those who are mentally unfit, Section 18; Application of the Fund is saying that grants must be extended to physical, mental and social rehabilitation because there are people who are suffering. here is also a fund called the War Victims Compensation Act that addresses all the people who were injured in the liberation struggle. You consult medical doctors to ascertain the level of injuries. I know the pros and cons of all these. We have seen the problems that come up with that because sometimes people bribe doctors to get high percentage of injuries that they claim. So this is meant to address all those who were injured in the liberation struggle, be it war collaborators or war veterans. So we have accommodated all those issues.
Looking at what the Hon. Senators said about this Bill, Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira strongly supported this Bill and I thank him for that. He further raised his concern that we had delayed in addressing the anomalies pertaining to issues of the war veterans and the war collaborators. Be that as it may, I would want you to know that on the land issue, in the other Bill that deals with war veterans, a specific quota was set aside for war veterans, that is 20%.
You were a governor and I was also a governor - the practice was that the quota for the war veterans will be set aside before distribution to any other people. I would want to state that the war veterans are many as they number up to 40 000. As a result, some of these war veterans were allocated land and others were not and the same applies to war collaborators. We are yet to look at the actual statistics that show what land has been allocated to this particular sector to show that Government has assisted them in this regard.
It is envisaged that at the conclusion of the land audit any of the land that will be identified will be allocated to the war veterans and war collaborators and these are going to receive first priority. In truth, these are issues that we sincerely believe should be resolved.
We have fast tracked this Bill because we appreciate the gravity of this matter. Once you pass this Bill, we will come up with a Statutory Instrument. I am going to pre-empt what we have already put in place that is contained in this Bill, that is 20% of the land will be set aside for war veterans. This is now at an advanced stage but I am not going to give the intricacy details at this stage because it is not part and parcel of the Bill. The same applies with the Agriculture Ministry; they are at an advanced stage in setting aside implements and livestock for use by war veterans.
Deeds and not words is the operative word in dealing with these issues. There is also the issue of hunting concessions and a lot of other issues that need to be considered for the benefit of war veterans. Each Ministry is going to look for a quota from its funding which will be set aside for the war veterans so that when this fund is put together it will run into millions of dollars. It is a way to try and improve the lives of war veterans because if we were to look at their budget it will run into several trillions of dollars, which is a serious challenge on the fiscus.
The President is also looking for ways to address that issues. All this is not contained in the Bill but the Bill talks of a board that is going to be put in place and that board requires the involvement of war veterans and war collaborators. I am surprised that people are now lobbying for board members. These things need to be properly arranged and we need to ensure that we do not bring thieves onto the board. There is a system that will be put in place and this is going to be outlined. The Bill simply states that there should be a board and lays down its functions. The Minister is a trustee who works with the board. The vetting will include chiefs and the commanders who operated in various areas during the liberations struggle. Please read your Bill, it clearly spells out all these issues. It also gives the penalties that are going to be meted out to thieves. The thieves will not get away with it because of the stringent law that was passed..
It is correct as rightly pointed out by Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira that there will be an increase in the numbers because there were other people who were left out. There is going to be an office at each district, and these were not in place before. I believe that by August we will be having these offices in place and they will go a long way in assisting those that are within these districts who are unable to come to Harare for vetting. It means that vetting has now been decentralized. Please assist us when we come here pleading for a budget to finance these activities. This will enable the chiefs and the commanders to expedite the vetting exercise. You should know that during the war all children that were under the age of 16 years were not treated as combatants but were instead sent to school, because of the United Nations Conventions that severely criticises the involvement of children in armed conflicts.
Those that were involved in the war, whether ZIPRA or ZANLA were against upon the use of child soldiers. As a result we need to be careful so as not to infringe on the Constitution. If one is unhappy with the way in which vetting has been conducted, they are free to appeal to a board that is going to be set up to specifically deal with appeals emanating from vetting. This is now different from the previous board that was operating in an unscrupulous manner.
A lot of Senators have supported this Bill. Hon. Tongogara has touched on the land issue which I have already addressed. Since 1998, we have been setting aside 20% of all the land that we have allocated to war veterans and war collaborators.
The President has written a letter to all ministries to ensure that the 20% quota for this group of people is set aside for their use. I will now be repeating because most of the issues have already been dealt with. Hon. Sen. Hungwe strongly supported the Bill and that this Bill is a landmark decision that has been made by our Government in correcting the anomalies that pertain to war veterans and that their dependents should be assisted with funding for their education and general welfare. The funds that are being given by Parliament are being used every term for the benefit of the children of the war veterans but you find that there are those war veterans who send their children out of the country for education. We allocate same figures for all the children. I believe at the moment they are being allocated $18 000 but the fees are now high. You find that some of the aged war veterans are still getting married to multiple young wives and having children who are beneficiaries of this fund. If you keep on bearing children, what will be the cut-off time? If their children are above 18, they should be able to take care of themselves. We are saying at my age, my children are now adults, where are we going?
Hon. Sen. Rambanepasi supported the Bill and reiterated that the war veterans made a sacrifice and should be supported. The Hon. Sen. supported his home girl and talked about the poverty of war veterans. What we are saying is; this programme that we are bringing up, should be able to assist war veterans to venture into various projects. Those who may have land should be able to get loans for implements so that the country can progress. People were getting $365 in pension allowances. Can you imagine such an amount - $365 until about two months ago when that figure was revised to $2000. However, we are reviewing that but I cannot tell you that now because we are bringing up a Statutory Instrument. We are looking into that in comparison with those serving in the national army so that if they get increments, the war veterans should also be able to get increments. Some people rush to go to courts as if nothing is happening yet in actual fact, President Mnangagwa’s Government is doing all it can to address this issue.
Hon. Senator also referred to how the women suffered during the liberation struggle and it is true. It is a very good thing that both Members of the National Assembly and the Senate agree that this is a very important Bill. When we leave this House, we should be able to tell our constituents that the Bill is progressing well.
Hon. Sen. Chifamba said that she was a war collaborator; you need to be vetted so that you get what you deserve. However, we should understand that those categories are different and when we come up with Statutory Instruments, we should consider that there are different categories and their percentages also differ. We are also working hand in glove with war collaborators. Hon. Senator Dube said that war veterans are looked down upon but that is about attitude. It means we should talk about the Constitution and people should be educated to respect the war veterans because they are provided for in the Constitution of the country. So, go out and explain to people so that the war veterans may be respected.
Hon. Sen. Moeketsi talked about war veterans being given stands, I referred to that and we are looking at it. You also referred to fraudsters, but I said there will be a penalty for that. The Hon. Senator also talked about people who were outside the country during the vetting process. The vetting process will take place again but it will not remain open. We will announce and all the people who will be involved such as chiefs and those who were present from where they operated from, we should address this once and for all so that people get their benefits.
I would like to thank you very much for your contributions for supporting the Bill so that we address this issue of the four categories of people who participated in the liberation struggle to liberate this country. The people they liberated are sitting pretty whilst they are suffering. I would like to thank you very much for giving an honour to the people who liberated this struggle. I hope that this Bill will be processed quickly so that the people who deserve to get their benefits do so timeously. I now move that the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill [H.B. 15, 2019] be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE BILL [H.B. 15, 2019]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 27 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE BILL [H. B. 15A, 2019]
THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Mr. President Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI), the Senate adjourned at Ten Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.