ZIMBABWE’S war veterans have demanded high government office posts and want legislators in both the National Assembly and Senate to sing the national anthem before the beginning of each parliamentary sitting.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Defence and Home Affairs chairperson Levi Mayihlome made the revelations on Tuesday when he presented a report on the Veterans of the Liberations Struggle Bill which is currently at second reading stage in the National Assembly.
The Bill, gazetted in September 2019, 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.
Parliament sessions usually begin with a prayer which is read by the Speaker of the National Assembly and Senate president.
“War veterans are concerned that the national anthem is not sung at the beginning of each parliamentary sitting in both the National Assembly and Senate,” Mayihlome said.
Those employed in government also want immediate promotion to lofty posts in government where they are employed to boost their retirement and pension benefits.
The ex-combatants are also demanding a 20% quota share in Parliament, State institutions and in the recruitment of their children in the army, police and other State institutions.
The report on public hearings held in January also shows that ex-combatants demanded diplomatic passports, comprehensive medical cover “by a reputable medical aid company”, exemption in paying land tax, vehicle import duty and tollgate fees, among other benefits.
“A proposal was made to include a clause on automatic promotion of veterans of the liberation struggle currently working in government institutions. They suggested that serving members due for retirement should be promoted one step up in order to boost their retirement packages and pension benefits, as is the case with retiring military personnel,” Mayihlome told parliamentarians on Tuesday.
The Bill also provides for all categories of veterans of the liberation struggle who are provided for in section 23 of the Constitution as “those who fought, those who assisted and those who were imprisoned, detained or restricted”.
“The veterans of the liberation struggle called for the Bill to have a clause which clearly states that there should be a 20% quota for war veterans in Parliament and all government institutions, as is the case with women and youth … will ensure that their welfare concerns are fully addressed, while at the same time safeguarding revolutionary values and interests,” Mayihlome added.
“Another proposal made in honour of veterans benefitting posthumously was that 20% of their children, including those of living veterans, should be offered jobs by the Public Service Commission. To this end, a call was made to incorporate a clause to read, ‘Employment of children of veterans of the liberation struggle in the public service, that is, the Zimbabwe National Army, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Prisons Services and other government institutions’.”
The ex-combatants are also demanding that a 20% quota of the presidential and other national scholarship schemes be reserved for their children and dependants of veterans of the liberation struggle. War veterans also said “…the Bill should incorporate a clause to address issues of exhumation of those who perished during the liberation struggle.
“They claimed that the State should take maximum responsibility on identifying the deceased and spearheading the exhumation process, thereby rendering them decent reburial at the Heroes’ Acre or their respective home shrines,” Mayihlome said.
“The same clause should seek to address gaps on adherence and reverence to cultural practices such as traditional cleansing in order to appease and put to rest the spirits of fallen heroes and heroines whose remains lie neglected either in foreign lands or from within our borders.
“War veterans called for the Bill to have a clause wherein the liberation fighters will be recognised and honoured through awarding of bravery medals as is the case with chiefs … to accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle. In addition, new identity cards should be processed and given to each veteran of the liberation struggle.”
In 2011, exhumations of fallen ex-combatants allegedly belonging to Zanla were initially carried out by members of the Fallen Heroes Trust, a group linked to the ruling Zanu PF party, before government officials took over.
Zanla was the military wing of Zanu during the liberation struggle. The High Court stopped the exhumations following a court challenge by Zipra guerrilla war fighters.