4.5 Clause 12: Benefits and establishment of schemes.
(I) Associations representing the four categories of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle called for the removal of the term ‘BASIC’ in Clause 12 (a) (I) arguing that it allows the Minister or any such responsible authority, to offer a pension benefit that may not be sufficient to cater for the financial welfare of veterans. Instead, they opted for a clause which clearly states that Veterans of the Liberation Struggle are entitled to a pension benefit equivalent to a serving Brigadier General’s salary.
(ii) It was also proposed that in the event of the death of a war veteran, the pension payable to the surviving spouse or dependents should not be reviewed downwards to the extent that it leaves the deceased’s family in abject poverty. This is in light of the added responsibilities that would be endured by the surviving spouse.
B) MEDICAL AND DENTAL CARE
(I) Cognisant of this provision, presenters on the subject highlighted that nearly all liberation war veterans were either physically, emotionally or mentally incapacitated as a result of the after-effects of the protracted war of liberation. In that respect, it was proposed that a comprehensive medical aid scheme, offered by a reputable medical aid company, be awarded. The scheme should allow beneficiaries to access healthcare at both Government
and private institutions countrywide, as well as outside Zimbabwe, where and when the situation requires so.
(ii) Several speakers on the subject also lamented the poor state of health institutions in the country and strongly proposed the incorporation of a clause on the construction of memorial hospitals and clinics for Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.
(c) EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE
(I) Veterans of the Liberation Struggle bemoaned the challenges faced by their children and dependents with regards to accessing educational funding. While the Bill restricts educational assistance to government institutions, both ZILIWACO and ZNLWVA associations argued that the benefit should be extended to cover private institutions in and outside the country.
(ii) Still, on the provision of educational assistance, ZNLWVA in Masvingo proposed the inclusion of a clause where a 20% quota of the Presidential and other national scholarship schemes is reserved for children and dependents of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle. In addition, the benefit should be availed to all learners, young and old, as long as they are official beneficiaries, regardless of their age.
(D) FUNERAL ASSISTANCE
(I) In Clause12 (2), associations called for the incorporation of a sub-clause on the provision of funeral services by a Parlour of reputable standing such as Doves and Nyaradzo Funeral Service providers.
(ii) In addition, they proposed to be given funeral assistance and benefits which are equivalent to those of the other Veterans in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
(iii) They suggested that hero status should not be distinctly categorized. Instead, they strongly expressed the view that all freedom fighters should be accorded national hero status for the purposes of uniform funeral assistance, honour and other post-funeral benefits.
(I) Veterans of the Liberation Struggle queried the powers of the Minister responsible for War Veterans Affairs and were quick to point out the ambiguity expressed in Clause 12 (3) on payment of gratuities. They called for a crystal-clear clause on the benefit entitled to war veterans in terms of the actual once-off gratuity payable to beneficiaries.
(ii) With respect to that, associations proposed the deletion of the word ‘MAY’ together with the phrase, ‘…within the resources available…’ to be replaced by ‘SHALL’ wherever they appear in the Bill. It was argued that the inclusion and use of ‘MAY’ leaves a lot to interpretation and is prejudicial to Veterans of the Liberation Struggle. They argued that the clause must compel the Minister to honour the provision, instead of giving him or her the discretion to act otherwise.
(iii) To that end, it was proposed that Clause 12 (3), when amended, should read, “The Minister SHALL prescribe a gratuity payable once only….”.
(iv) Additionally, the Bill should state a figure in respect of the gratuity for each category of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, as is the case with the War Veterans Act (1997) which gave effect to the payment of a $50 000,00 to all vetted War Veterans.
(v) In view of the above fact, War Collaborators and Non-Combatant Cadres proposed that their monetary benefits should also be paid retrospectively (backdated to 1997, when liberation warfighters received their gratuity and pension benefits).
(vi) Furthermore, it was proposed that there must be a clause stating that all deceased Veterans of the Liberation Struggle should benefit posthumously, through their surviving spouses, dependents and or relatives.
(vii) 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’.
(f) Clear categorization of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle members
(I) Pursuant to the aforesaid benefits, associations, particularly the ZNLWVA, demanded clear classification of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle on the basis of their contribution and sacrifice to the Liberation Struggle. This should inevitably apply on the allocation of benefits. In other words, clause 12 should explicitly state the benefits and schemes for each distinct category.
(ii) In view of the foregoing proposal, members of ZNLWVA and ZEPPDRA emphasised the importation of all clauses on benefits, from the current War Veterans Act [Chapter 11:15] and ZEPPDRA Act [Chapter 17:10] into the proposed Bill. This includes importing all supporting statutory instruments.
4.5.2 Additional benefits requested by Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.
(A) TAX AND DUTY EXEMPTION
(I) It was proposed that the Bill should have a clause that exempts Veterans of the Liberation Struggle from paying land tax, vehicle import duty and tollgate fees.
(B) QUOTA SYSTEM IN PARLIAMENT AND ALL GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES
(I) 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. According to proponents of this idea, representation in Parliament and other state institutions by Veterans of the Liberation Struggle themselves will ensure that their welfare concerns are fully addressed while at the same time safeguarding revolutionary values and interests.
(C) AUTOMATIC PROMOTION OF SERVING VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE IN STATE INSTITUTIONS
(I) A proposal was made to include a clause on the 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.
(d) Diplomatic Passports
(I)All associations across the ten provinces concurred on the need to grant diplomatic passports to the leadership of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle. They proposed the insertion of a clause in the Bill.
(F)BRAVERY MEDALS AND NEW IDENTITY CARDS
(I) War Veterans called for the Bill to have a clause wherein the liberation fighters will be recognized and honoured through awarding of Bravery medals as is the case with Chiefs. They argued that the clause would complement Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013), which elaborately calls for the State, its institutions and agencies at all levels 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.
4.6 CLAUSE 13 -16: VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE FUND
(a) (I) A call was made to include a clause on the decentralization of the administration of the Fund so that it becomes easily accessible to beneficiaries. While acknowledging the influence and role of the Board hereto, the public called for the trimming of the powers of the Chief Executive Director with respect to the administration of the Fund.
(ii) In respect of individual economic empowerment projects, War Veterans in particular, called for a clause on special concessions or grants in mining. This, according to them, will help the government to control and monitor its mineral resources by curbing pilferage and black marketeering.
(B)COMPENSATION OF WAR VICTIMS AND VETERANS OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES
(I) Pursuant to and recognising the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Fund, the public in Macheke observed that the Bill was not explicit on the compensation of war victims and veterans who are disabled. It was, therefore, proposed that there be a clause on the compensation of war victims and veterans living with disability through an established War Victims Fund, as provided for in the War Veterans Act (1997).
(c) Exhumation, reburial and maintenance of Shrines of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Associations highlighted that 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.
(I) 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 a foreign land or from within our borders.
(ii) There were concerns that the maintenance of National Shrines was being neglected, especially at provincial and district level. They proposed that existing Acts on the maintenance of National Shrines be transferred to the ministry responsible for the welfare of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, that is, the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs.
4.7 CLAUSE 19: ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING OF THE FUND
Some members of the public advised that the said clause should also mention that Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, at the grassroots level, shall be furnished with financial statements and Audit Reports regularly. Additionally, an external auditor should also be engaged to complement the efforts of the internal auditor.
4.8 Clause 21: Resettlement benefits for Veterans of the Liberation Struggle
(I) There were calls to incorporate a clause which commits the government to protect their land rights. Concern was raised where some Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, widows and orphans of deceased Veterans, were being evicted from their resettlement areas. Associations, therefore, suggested that there should be a clause which stipulates that War Veterans whose pieces of land might be confiscated by the State for national developmental programs, be relocated first before the government takes over their land.
(ii) War Veterans asserted that the Bill should clearly state that every War Veteran is entitled to at least 50 hectares of farmland.
(iii) Moreso, they argued that the 20% quota stipulated in the Bill should not be restricted to farmland allocation alone. Instead, it should apply on all government projects such as housing schemes in urban areas and growth points.