MORE than 200 ex-Zipra cadres discharged from the Zimbabwe National Army in 1982 at the height of Gukurahundi over alleged tribal victimisation have sued Defence, Security and War Veterans minister Constantino Chiwenga and the Defence Forces Services Commission (DFSC) over unfair termination of their employment.
BY SILAS NKALA
Duke Moyo and 249 others filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court demanding pensions, benefits and gratuities from August 1982 to date.
“An order declaring plaintiffs’ sacking or firing in 1982 by the defendants as unlawful, unconstitutional and outside the Defence Act. An order that all plaintiffs be given proper letters of discharge and certificates of discharge in terms of the Defence Act. The first defendant [Chiwenga] shall ensure compliance with this order within 30 days of its granting and an order that the second defendant pays costs of suit on an attorney-client scale if the order sought is opposed.”
In declaration of the claim, the ex-Zipra cadres said they were the armed wing of PF Zapu, which fought the liberation war until 1980 alongside Zanu’s Zanla.
“Following demobilisation in 1980, the plaintiffs, together with Zanla members, were integrated and attested into the ZNA under the Defence Act. The plaintiffs were contracted to serve as soldiers . . . stationed at 45 Infantry Battalion in Gutu . . .,” the declaration read.
“On or about August 1982, plaintiffs without notice or a hearing in terms of the law . . . were accused of being dissidents and also defying lawful instructions . . . by their commanders and they were summarily dismissed from the ZDF in violation of their rights.”
They said part of their outstanding benefits were paid though their lawyers Sansole and Senda.
On March 7 this year through Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office, the minister and the DFSC filed a defendant’s plea at the Bulawayo High Court.
“There are three points in limine which the honourable court must dispose of warranting the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claim without considering the merits . . . the cause of action arose in August 1982 . . . The claim must have been instituted within three years and ought to be dismissed on this ground,” the defendants’ plea read.
“Secondly, the plaintiffs were fully paid in terms of the contracts they signed on attestation into ZNA in 1980. According to that contract, the plaintiffs were engaged for a period of seven years, which entitled them to a refund of pension contributions and not a pension. The refunds due to the plaintiffs were paid in 1997 through their former legal practitioners Sansole and Senda . . .”
The defendants also submitted that the number of claimants was inconsistent.
“The face of the summons lists 39 plaintiffs while declaration talks of 70 and also 250 members. This raises the issue of who the plaintiffs are and where they are today. The summons is, therefore, defective and the claim must be dismissed for want of compliance with the rules,” the defendants’ plea
However, applicants said it was impossible for them to have filed the claim at that time as they were targets of Gukurahundi and could have been killed or arrested.