The High Court has agreed to hear arguments challenging police ban of a demonstration by war veterans against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for failing to honour other monetary promises dating back to 1998, and ex-liberation war fighters said they were optimistic it would be overturned.
War veterans, who in the late 90s demanded and got a $50 000 gratuity each, triggering a serious economic recession — lodged a High Court application against police officer commanding Harare Central District, seeking to be granted permission to go ahead with the protest.
In the urgent chamber application, the applicants are the War Veterans Welfare Group, Amos Sigauke, Shoorai Nyamagodo, Digmore Ndiya, Daphne Kanoti, Fredrick Ngombe, Reuben Zulu, Joseph Chinguwa, Hazvinei Machingura, Willard Zviripi and Ignatius Mutsinze.
According to Sigauke’s affidavit, they have been consulting with the police since October this year, over their intended move to conduct a peaceful demonstration, but were only told on Tuesday that they can no longer go ahead with their protest which was planned for Wednesday.
“In June 2018, we sent a three-person delegation comprising Sigauke, Kanoti and Nyamagodo to engage the State president Mnangagwa as a follow up to his unfulfilled undertakings regarding our welfare concerns. The president again undertook to address our concerns with deserved urgency.
“Sensing no action from the president, applicants in September 2018 sent another strong delegation to engage the minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who, however, said she was still new on the post and was to contact us under two weeks for consultations,” Sigauke said, adding that Muchinguri-Kashiri never came back to them as promised.
According to Sigauke, as war veterans, they are owed monthly pension arrears spanning from January 1998 in terms of Statutory Instruments 280 and 281 of 1997 which granted them a monthly pension of $2 000.
He however, said government has only been paying them $234 only per month.
He further said the government had failed to honour them with medical aid, funeral and resettlement benefits, while ignoring “sickening corruption” in government and society at large.
“Recalling that we succeeded in November 1997 to draw the State’s attention to our plight through peacefully exercising our fundamental right to demonstrate and petition and now in accordance with Section 59 of the Constitution, we have been engaging police, in particular through respondent and his other relevant security agents.
“The respondent has been aware of the planned peaceful march since October 2018 when we notified the police in writing and after which we held many consultative meetings with him and his team,” the court heard.
Sigauke said they have a right to demonstrate and petition in terms of the law and should be allowed to do so.