Veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle, have called on government to ensure their children are given jobs despite lack of qualifications, claiming their offsprings have been denied a lot of chances.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA/ SIMBARASHE SITHOLE
Chiredzi War vets presented a host of demands to the Parliamentary Portifolio Committee on Defence and War Veterans led by Chiredzi South legislator Kalisto Gwanetsa at a hearing conducted at Chitsanga Hall in Tshovani Township last week to look into their welfare.
The war veterans told the committee that they want proportional representation and mining claims where experts are employed, but with all proceeds channelled to them.
“As war veterans we want our children to benefit also. They have been denied a lot chances. So we demand that even if they do not have any qualifications they should be employed to any position. In fact, no one should ask for any certificates from them. They should just employ them,” Savious Baloyi said.
“As part of our compensation we also want mining claims where experts are employed and we get all the proceeds because we are uneducated.”
Another war veteran, Jerry Masiya said they should have proportional representation in Parliament to increase their chances of presenting their grievances through some of their own. “Although I am not saying it is bad to have women in Parliament through proportional representation, I feel as war veterans we should also be granted that quota. We should also be exempted from paying duty whenever we import vehicles and other goods,” he said.
Other war veterans, Hlengani Hasani and Wellington Mutonho claimed that corruption by government officials in Harare had contributed largely to the suffering of most freedom fighters.
“We cannot access our pension here because the banks have no money, but people in the streets have a lot of cash which they are exchanging for forex. If any officer arrests them he receives a call from Harare within minutes to release them. This has led to deteriorating living standards of the war veterans because the money we are supposed to get from banks is in the streets,” Hasani said.
They were, however, told to stick to the business of the committee.
Speaking at another hearing conducted in Bindura on Thursday, Mashonaland Central war veterans leader Sam Parirenyatwa said former guerilla war fighters should not have laid down arms before the issue of their welfare had been resolved.
“We are concerned by Parliament’s failure to put mechanisms to enforce or implement sound laws to address the welfare of war veterans. We are praying that this time around it will be different as of now, war veterans are regretting surrendering their weapons at ceasefire before their fate in the new nation was clear,” Parirenyatwa said.
“We believe that this was one of the major causes of our loss of status, recognition and exclusion from the economic arena and it has a bearing on national security, it is our expectations that this long overdue exercise will lead to the alleviation of our destitute status in the shortest time possible.”
Parirenyatwa also said their children should benefit from recruitment and training in the security and public sector as part of affirmative action.
“They (children) should be beneficiaries of economic empowerment programmes like land and other projects,” he said.
Parirenyatwa added that they are pushing for the restoration of the original value of their $2 000 pension payout. The committee is conducting an inquiry into the quality of life and welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle throughout the country after another war veteran Blessing Kundlande, petitioned Parliament to look into their pension benefits and general welfare.