BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war have claimed that ordinary citizens are paying bribes to register as freedom fighters in order to benefit from monthly pension stipends at the expense of real liberation war heroes.
The issue came out on Tuesday in the National Assembly following a petition by the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) Veterans to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence on the amendments to the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act.
The petitioners claimed that the Act was not precise in its definition of beneficiaries.
Bubi MP Sonny Key Mguni (Zanu PF) said the vetting process had loopholes which needed to be plugged since the vetting committee had officers who had no liberation war credentials.
“The war veterans, who are supposed to benefit from the programme, are made to fail and those people that offer bribes to the vetting officers are the ones that get shortlisted, the genuine ones are turned back,” Mguni said.
“On these grounds, their wish was that the vetting officers should come from all the provinces. That is what the war veterans are appealing for. I also noted that there is a board which was commissioned by the chairman on his report. This board was overlooked.”
The war veterans also demanded that government should have a clear system on who deserved to be buried at the country’s national shrine, Heroes’ Acre, to avoid inconsistencies.
“There is another problem that we have seen in this country. There are people that went to war that deserve to have been buried at district or provincial heroes’ acres,” Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC Alliance) said.
“I know, for instance in Harare,, some people that we knew went to war were actually buried haphazardly as they were denied places even at district or provincial level, but guess what, (dancehall musician) Soul Jah Love was buried at the Provincial Heroes Acre.”
He said the decision to confer hero status must not be done by a select group of people. The ruling Zanu PF party currently decides who must be conferred a hero status.
Other issues that the petitioners raised are that an automated system should be used to capture information on war veterans.
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