Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
Government is committed to transforming the livelihoods of war veterans through the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill which is before Parliament, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
She was speaking at an interactive meeting with the war veterans provincial leadership at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare yesterday.
“President Mnangagwa is pushing for the Bill to sail through Parliament so that it becomes a law and ensure the challenges facing the veterans of the liberation struggle are addressed.
“The old dispensation failed to address your concerns, hence the new dispensation under the leadership of President Mnangagwa is working tirelessly to improve the livelihoods of the veterans.
“Following the coming in of the new dispensation, I pursued the matter further in Cabinet and it was agreed that my ministry carries out further consultations in response to the recommendations made by Cabinet on November 21, 2016.
“We conducted consultations with representatives from the war veterans, and ex political prisoners, detainees and restrictees in Kwekwe on the 19th of February 2019 and agreed on the need to further lobby for inclusion of war collaborators and non-combatant cadres in the Bill despite the reservations that the former Cabinet had.
“We all agreed that the liberation struggle succeeded as a result of team work, hence the definition of the veterans of the liberation struggle in the Constitution incorporated the war collaborators and non-combatant cadres. Cabinet then approved the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill which was brought before Parliament, gazetted and is now at the second reading stage,”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Bill has incorporated all the provisions of the War Veterans Act and the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act.
“It is not the intention of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill to take away any rights or benefits that war veterans or ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees are getting into the current Act. Rather, the Bill seeks to improve the welfare of all the veterans of the liberation struggle through the inclusion of the other two categories that were not legally recognised,” she said.
The Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill has thus maintained the benefits of the old Acts, that is the pension, medical, funeral, loan and settlement benefits.
Some of the issues raised by war veterans include their welfare, age limit of their children who need support, vetting of members, allocation for agricultural land, among other issues.
The consolidation of the Acts is in compliance with the supreme law which recognises both combat and non-combat cadres.
“The War Veterans Act and the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act are a mirror image of each other and consolidating them would assist in easy administration. The provisions relating to the non-combatant cadres and war collaborators were also going to be similar in relation to their welfare and as such one consolidated Act has been drafted,”
“We can all agree comrades that this process is long overdue. It is therefore important that we collectively support the Bill in order to fast track the vetting of our other comrades who are now growing old and some dying without receiving legal recognition.
“The Bill forms the legal framework for the improved administration of your welfare and benefits. Let us work together and ensure the Bill is enacted. I need your support to do that,” said the Minister.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri added that Government is setting up war veterans offices in all the country’s 10 provinces to ensure their challenges are addressed urgently.
“The Government is also establishing war veterans’ offices across the country at district level to ensure their concerns are addressed. Interviews for officers are being undertaken. We are establishing the offices to decentralise health funds for war veterans and ensure they access it on time,” she said.