WAR veterans have demanded that government creates their own ministry separate from the war collaborators and ex-political detainees, indicating that there should be a difference between freedom fighters and those who were assisting them during the war.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/ NIZBERT MOYO
The mujibhas and chimbwindos (war collaborators) on Friday, however, told Parliament that the liberation war would not have been won without them and demanded equal treatment and compensation, saying that their plight had been ignored for too long.
Outspoken ex-officio member of the war veterans association, Andrew Ndlovu, told NewsDay on Friday on the sidelines of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle 2019 Bill hearings in Bulawayo that the war collaborators and ex-political detainees do not have military training, hence they could not be called freedom fighters.
“We are military persons, while those are civilians who are (late former President Robert) Mugabe’s creation to combine us so that he could gain political mileage,” Ndlovu said.
“Some of these people (war collaborators) were too young during the liberation struggle and were herding cattle.
They were not exposed to the risk that we were subjected to. We fought a guerrilla warfare against the National Treaty Organisations (NATO). This was a tough assignment and we did this just for the love of our country, not for money.
“We want that guerilla warfare structure to be maintained with its commanders and be treated as a special constituency.”
He said political detainees were in the country advocating for freedom, but were never in the forefront during the liberation struggle.
Dry Katsande, a representative from the Mujibha Chimbwindo Association during public hearings at Stoddard Hall in Mbare, Harare, said they were never given a chance to attain education, but the war veterans that did attain education were now mocking them and labelling them illiterate.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs chairperson Levi Mayihlome said the Bill would, among other issues, eliminate any form of discrimination to military exposure, recommend four categories of liberation war fighters under Zanla and Zipra, non-combatant cadres, war collaborators, and ex-political prisoners and detainees.
“We demand that the Bill should stipulate equal treatment to mujibhas and chimbwindos because without us, the liberation war fighters would not have survived and we played a very important role to support them by carrying food, ammunition, clothes, spying and supplying information to them,” Katsande said.
“During the war, wherever there were bombings of the liberation war fighter, we mujibhas and chimbwindos were also bombed and we suffered in the same manner as the liberation war fighters.”
He demanded paid education for their children, farms, as well as positions to head companies.
“All war veterans must be exempted from paying tollgate fees and other taxes. The term ‘war collaborators’ is also vague and we want it changed in the Bill to ‘liberation war collaborators,” Katsande said.
But war veterans felt that when it comes to compensation, the Bill must state seniority of the different war veteran’s groupings.
Hoyini Bhila, the Harare province chairperson of the War Veterans Association, criticised lack of mentioning of seniority of war veterans in the Bill.
“Seniority must be based on one’s contributions during the liberation struggle and their sacrifices. It is our view that the degree of sacrifice by those who held arms and fought in the liberation war supersedes that of other groups,” he said.
Bhila also said there must be a 20% quota reserved for war veterans in all institutions, including seats in Parliament.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Cadres Association said the Bill recognises veterans who fought in Mozambique and Zambia and ignores those who fought from Botswana.
Different war veterans criticised lack of implementation of Statutory Instrument 194/205, which stipulated that all categories that participated in the war must be compensated.