The Sunday Mail
The War Veterans of the Liberation Struggle (Rights and Benefits) Bill is ready, and consultations to increase war veterans’ monthly pensions are underway.
The Bill – which seeks to provide a legal basis for vetting war collaborators, nationalists and non-combatant cadres so that they can receive compensation from Government – is likely to be be tabled in the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Currently, the War Veterans Act and the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act provide the framework for administering war veterans’ affairs.
The new Bill seeks to recognise war collaborators, non-combatant cadres and nationalists who may not have been at the war front but made immense contributions to Zimbabwe’s Independence.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, principal director for war veterans in the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Major-General (Retired) Richard Ruwodo said: “We drafted the new Bill and presented it to the Cabinet Legal Committee last September, and the Bill went before Cabinet for considerations which are now waiting for the approval of the Vice-Presidents.”
Government has been vetting war veterans, ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees for the past 21 years.
The Constitution prescribes the provision of pensions and access to basic healthcare to veterans of the Second Chimurenga.
The War Veterans Act also stipulates that a board should superintend over administration of war veterans’ issues.
The term of the last board, which was led by Cde Dumiso Dabengwa, ended last year.
The board that will be put in place after the enactment of the new law will cover previously excluded groups such as collaborators, non-combatant cadres and nationalists.
“Since the process of harmonising the Constitution and the two Acts started, we are waiting for the Bill to sail through so (that) we can include representatives from the other three groups.
“The Minister (of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs) will make recommendations to the President on who should be part of the new board to be formed post passing of the Bill,” said Rtd Maj-Gen Ruwodo.
In addition, Government is working on on upward review of war veterans’ pensions.
“In terms of how what percentage increase we are talking about, it hasn’t been finalised yet. But we have been given a task to come up with some figures which we will present,” Rtd Maj-Gen Ruwodo said.
War veterans currently get a little above $200 in monthly pay-outs, and the figure was last adjusted in 2014.
At a meeting with war veterans in Harare on May 11, 2018, President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave an assurance that pensions and other living conditions would be improved.