By Bulawayo Correspondent
A 23-year-old Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) recruit who was discharged from service after sustaining a fractured leg while on military training is appealing for financial assistance to undergo an urgent surgical operation (sequestrum).
Fortune Tshuma, who joined the army as a general duty soldier on April 2017 intake 33A -01-17, sustained the complicated fracture on the right femur while doing military training at LLeuellin Military Barracks, now Lookout Masuku Barracks in July 2017.
Following the injury, Tshuma was taken to Mpilo Central Hospital where a specialist performed a surgical operation and inserted a K-nail.
The army paid for all his medical expenses at the time but later became uncooperative after the removal of K-nail in September 2018.
Tshuma narrated his nightmare to NewZimbabwe.com this week at his parents’ home in Bulawayo’s Magwegwe West high-density suburb.
“Due to the complications caused by the foreign body (K-nail), I am not fully healed till now. There is a surgical operation (sequestrum) I have to undergo of which last time I confirmed in November 2019, it costs RTG$ 57 416.
“To my surprise, when I presented this cost to the organisation, the reply was a discharge from the organisation,” he said.
Tshuma, whose infected wound is now continuously oozing puss, accused his former employer of discharging him without presenting his matter before the army medical board as per procedure.
“The army medical board was supposed to determine the degree of my injury and work out my compensation before dismissing me since I was still on medical treatment.
“I am failing to make a living due to this injury. It gives me limitations when I work hard. In essence, I am still a young man and all my life has been ruined by this injury.
“I feel the pain of the operation. More of my survival skills are based on hard labour but due to this injury, I am bound to that.
“Before I was attested, qualified ZNA doctors examined me and approved that I was fit to join the organisation,” said Tshuma while grimacing with pain.
His mother now does every physical task for him.
Fortune Tshuma and his mother
Tshuma said following his discharge, he was also deprived of his medical file and signal of discharge which is contrary to Section 16(1) of the Defence Statutory Instrument Regulations of 2000.
“The Statutory Instrument states that I must be given my termination advice upon discharge or contract termination.
“I cannot acquire any medical treatment since all my medical history is on the medical file,” he said.
His mother, Fadzai Tshuma said her son needs more than US$1 000 to undergo the surgical operation.
“I am a single mother and cannot afford the money which is needed for the operation.
“I have gone to the (army) Recruitment Training Depot several times seeking for assistance, but they have been referring me to Harare.
“My son was injured while at work and the army must take full responsibility. Even when he was injured, I was buying most of his medication because the army said it did not have money for his medical expenses,” said the mother.
Fadzai also accused the army of failing to inform her when her son got injured.
“When Fortune was injured, the army took him secretly to Mpilo hospital without informing me.
“I only learnt about the injury after he phoned me. When I confronted the army bosses at the Training Depot, they demanded to know the person who had told me that my son was in hospital.
“They said my son was government property. If he is indeed government property, why are they now refusing to assist him,” she said.
Tshuma in October last year wrote to the army headquarters in Harare highlighting his plight but his former employer is still has to respond to his correspondence.
When reached for comment, ZNA spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore said the army will only respond after investigating the issue.
“Please be informed that we are working on gathering all the background information from stakeholders and will respond soonest,” said Makotore in response to an e-mail sent to him.
The Zimbabwe Ex-Servicemen Association Trust (ZESA) pledged to assist Tshuma.
“As ex-servicemen, these are the issues which we have been fighting for. It is clear that Tshuma was injured at work and the army has the responsibility to look after him.
“As an association, we will see how we can help our comrade,” said ZESA national chairperson Moses Kumbweya.