WAR veterans on Friday blasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government for failing to effectively bust sanctions as the Rhodesian government did during the 1970s when it was slapped with economic sanctions for human rights abuses on blacks.
The former fighters said this while contributing their views to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, 2019 Bill during a public hearing which was held at a basketball court near Stodart Hall in Mbare.
A representative from the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Harare Province told MPs that the current government must find ways to bust sanctions.
“When Smith was under sanctions, he crafted what was called a Serviceman Charter to bust them, but today government is suffering because they have failed to put in place a policy or a Serviceman Charter to bust these sanctions,” the war veteran said.
In their position paper on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, 2019 Bill, the ZNLWVA also said government had betrayed them.
“In order not to portray clear and open betrayal of war veterans, the government was supposed to introduce a War Veteran Bond that should be maintained in all arms of government in case of any possible political leadership change so that the revolutionary values can never be changed by any political leaders who may take over leadership,” they said.
War veterans said countries such as Russia, the United States of America, and China had their own Veterans Bond.
“In Russia, the Russian Army is headed by its military veterans at annual commemorations, parades and declared national events. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, war veterans are recognised with high regard at all national events. The USA War Veterans Bond was crafted to empower America’s foreign policies and the bond is under the custodianship of the Pentagon, which is manned by the military,” they said, adding that Zimbabwe’s war veterans were treated as if they were of no value.
They warned Parliament against fast-tracking the Bill, saying that undeserving individuals like war collaborators and non-combatant cadres were trying to push for the fast-tracking of the Bill so that they benefit in the same way as war veterans that were fighters during the war of liberation.
Sani Masiyazviriya of the Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Ex-Detainees and Restrictees Association blasted Parliament and government for disrespect of war veterans by civil servants.
He was angered by an incident that happened when the war veterans turned up to give their views on the Bill at Stodart Hall. They found that the chairs in the hall had been removed and the public hearing was changed to the basketball pitch opposite the hall.
“We are currently being humiliated at government level by officials and civil servants. We want the Bill to stipulate that those civil servants that disrespect war veterans when they seek assistance at their offices must be arrested and charged with a fine or imprisonment,” Masiyazviriya said.
If passed, the Bill, will among other issues, compensate non-combatant cadres, war collaborators, and ex political prisoners and detainees for their contribution in the liberation war.
— The Standard