President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF must not humiliate our liberation war veterans.
There’s no denying the benefits that came to Zimbabwe from the outstanding service provided by the so-called-freedom-fighters, (war veterans) to many in today’s language.
Zimbabwe’s war Veterans are brave and heroic. These sons and daughters of the soil put their lives on the line to defend the lives of their fellow citizens and to free the country from colonial rule. They fought for the freedoms we often take for granted. Indeed, their sacrifices are the very foundations that uphold the principles and laws that govern us and make our nation unique.
These veterans should never be abused or humiliated. It is a shame to see the way in which the 40 who were arrested endured such shameful treatment. Without a doubt it is wrong, such behaviour must be challenged.
Ironically, on the day that 40 war veterans were taken to court after being unconstitutionally detained.
President Mnangagwa was addressing his party’s Central Committee in Harare, marking the start of an annual conference to be held in Bindura over the weekend.
“Upholding constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection and preservation of our rich cultural heritage is sacrosanct,” Mnangagwa told the party faithful.
“This is the true meaning of independence, freedom and democracy.”
As Mnangagwa spoke, dozens of veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war who protested against paltry pensions trudged into court in a human chain, two days after they were arrested in central Harare and prevented from presenting a petition to Mnangagwa.
Lawyers for the 40, taken to court by bus, said they had been detained for more than 48 hours, and had not been informed of the charges when they were rounded up at around 10AM on Tuesday.
Their legal team from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights asked magistrate Barbra Mateko to toss out the charges of participating in an illegal demonstration with intent to promote public violence, citing a violation of their rights. Mateko said she would make a ruling on Friday.
Most people may be quick to downplay the veterans and disrespect or dismiss their contributions to society, but make no mistake, these humble individuals are far from ordinary. They took on a job that most people would never dream of accepting and they should be compensated accordingly there should be Zimbabwean veteran’s aid, health services, and other benefits befitting their service and valor.
Interestingly President Mnangagwa claimed that the Zanu PF lead government was “well on course to realising the promises we made,” blaming Zimbabwe’s regression on “saboteurs of economic development” whom he vowed to “deal with without fear or favour.”
What is our obligation as a nation? Do we have a moral, ethical, and/or legal responsibility to offer our war veterans aid following their sacrifices and service to our nation? Although the course of action seems clear, there is still debate about how far the nation should go when it comes to caring for war veterans. Like most things in a capitalistic society, the debate often centers on funding.
These people deserve more than our thanks. They deserve ongoing care and consideration. Many people still talk of the 50 thousand dollar gratuity that was extended to them years ago. Unfortunately, many assume that was more than enough. Well, in truth it was not. We owe much more to these war veterans. They do not deserve the disrespect and the humiliation that they are being subjected to right now.
In my view, the government needs to be a bit more honest about what it is delivering and just what it says it’s delivering, because the two are definitely not the same.
The arrest of the war veterans came just a day after Zanu PF organised nationwide protests against sanctions imposed by western countries, on some said Zimbabwean elites. Curiously, prosecutors say on a charge sheet for the war veterans that “the country is still under national lockdown level 2 and all demonstrations are suspended.”
The war veterans are senior citizens. They are our mothers, our fathers, our uncles, aunties. They are our grandmothers and grandfathers. All they want is a decent life. They sacrificed their youth to fight for this nation we call Zimbabwe, and we must respect that.
We could learn a thing or two from the British and other developed countries, with regards, honouring our war veterans.
In England, for example they have enshrined in law the military covenant, which states that soldiers could be called upon to make the “ultimate sacrifice” but in return they and their families will be “sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service”.
The moral obligation to treat veterans should not stop when service ends. The covenant states, that veterans should receive priority healthcare from the National Health Service when they are being treated for a condition dating from their time in the armed forces.
The ministry of health in Zimbabwe, could if it was functional do more for our war veterans.
I stand with the war veterans.