Ex-ZANLA combatant awarded war-vets compensation dating back to 1997

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By Mary Taruvinga Senior Reporter

A former combatant of the ZANLA guerrilla army, Marshall Rex Sibanda, has won a case in which he demanded to be registered as a war veteran and awarded compensation.

Sibanda, a war veteran and former police officer, will be paid all benefits due to him dating back as far as 1997 after the High Court dismissed a challenge by the Ministry of Defence.

Justice Emilia Muchawa also slapped Defence minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, with costs.

“It is ordered that the applicant be and is hereby confirmed by this honourable court to be a war veteran.

“The respondents shall, within seven days of service of this order upon them, register the applicant on the War Veteran register.

“The respondents shall pay the applicant all the benefits due to him but not limited to monthly pension, school and college fees and tuition on production of invoices, from the date of his registration as a war veteran in 1997 to date,” ruled the judge.

Sibanda had mounted an application seeking to be confirmed as a war veteran.

He also sought to be awarded all pensions and benefits from the date he was vetted and certified and issued with a war veteran’s identity card.

Sibanda told the court that he was vetted in 1997 and issued with a war veterans’ card as proof of his successful vetting but was yet to get his benefits.

He said he crossed into Mozambique to participate in the liberation struggle.

According to a letter dated August 28, 1992 written by a colonel administrator, Sibanda could not make it into the Zimbabwe National Army after he was immobilised in Chitungwiza, where he was a battalion commissar.

However, the respondents, Ministry of Defence and the War Veterans Board, filed their opposing papers, disputing that he went through military training and as such, does not warrant any war veteran benefits.

Muchinguri claimed Sibanda was vetted by a Board of War Veterans together with the ministry and was unsuccessful.

The judge, however, said the submissions lacked merit.

“In my considered opinion, this matter is to be resolved by determining whether or not the applicant meets the definition of a war veteran as provided in the Act.

“That is the starting point…from the facts, it is common cause that the applicant crossed into Mozambique in order to join the liberation struggle in 1976,” said Justice Muchawa.

“The letter from Zanu PF refers to the applicant as a ZANLA ex-combatant who went to Mozambique in 1976… one has to necessarily interrogate the word “ex-combatant…it means any combatant who has been disarmed, demobilised and registered.”

She said the letter from Zanu PF, therefore, implies that Sibanda was an active participant in the ZANLA military wing.