ZIPRA veterans dismiss struggle law

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

FORMER Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) fighters have petitioned parliament to amend the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act which they argue was not reflective of their contributions.

They expressed their disapproval of the law during public hearings conducted by parliament’s Defence, Security and War Veterans committee.

Government last month gazetted the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, which provides for the establishment of a board that will address ex-combatants’ rights, welfare and benefits, among other issues.

Former ZIPRA combatants are however not happy with the Act which they say fell short of their expectations.

“We are aggrieved by the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act as gazetted which has left out our non-combatant cadres who were stationed at other Transit camps other than Zambia and Mozambique.

“We are concerned that all these camps and non-combatant cadres who were in different countries on different missions have been eliminated or omitted by the Act.

The combatants said the current drafting of the law left “our non-combatant cadres at risk of being left out of government programmes”.

The petition was also copied to the President of the Senate Mable Chinomona and the chairperson of the parliamentary committee.

The ex-fighters said ZIPRA had transit camps in Botswana which was the reservoir and major crossing point to other countries notably camps at Selible Pikwe, Francistown and Dukwe was used by some ZIPRA cadres to cross into Zimbabwe during the ceasefire period.

The ex-ZIPRA combatants are also not happy with the minister appointing the chairperson of the war veterans board.

“The veterans are against the appointment of the chairperson of the board by the minister.

“We suggest that both the Vice Chair and the Chairperson should be elected at the first sitting by a simple majority.

“The veterans also suggest that the chairperson and vice chairperson cannot be ZANLA or ZIPRA only.

“We also propose that the chairmanship must alternate between ZANLA and ZIPRA at the expiry of the board’s tenure,” further reads the petition.

The ZIPRA veterans also want the board to be given power to determine both provincial and national heroes and heroines.

“The ZIPRA veterans are of the view that the board must be given power second to the President any person who they feel qualifies to be declared a national or provincial hero. The board must be tasked with defining a criteria used to declare a veteran a national or provincial hero,” further reads the petition