Ex-political prisoners demand $6m

TWO ex-political prisoners under the Former Political Prisoners and Detainees in Pre-Independent Zimbabwe Pressure Group Trust (Trust) have dragged the government to court demanding $6 million compensation for every member registered with the grouping.

In a High Court application, the Trust, its board chair Sanikidzai Suncall Musiyazviriyo and Charles Peter Chitewo cited Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube as defendants.

In his affidavit, Musiyazviriyo claimed that Muchinguri-Kashiri and Ncube had failed to uphold the promise made by the government in 2005 in which it swore to pay every ex-political prisoner a $6 million gratuity.

“Through Statutory Instrument 194/2005 … government notified that the minister of Public Service … had, with the approval of the minister of Finance and in terms of then Section 7 of the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act, made the regulations in its Section 3 in that: every ex-political prisoner, detainee and restrictee shall be paid a gratuity of $6 million, payable once only after the 1st of January 2006.

“However, the respondents jointly and severally … unilaterally and without any consultation nor explanation to registered ex-political prisoners … have chosen not to pay applicants the mandatory $6 million gratuity,” Musiyazviriyo said.

He said that the Trust had made many attempts to communicate with Muchinguri-Kashiri and Ncube regarding the payment, but nothing had been done to fulfil the promise.

“Second and third applicants (Musiyazviriyo and Chitewo) and some of the qualifying ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees … engaged the defendants demanding payment of their entitled $6 million gratuity. We went to the extent of indicating to respondents that applicants too deserved similar respect as … afforded former Rhodesian security forces, our erstwhile enemies.

“However both respondents have appeared and acted unmoved, if not actually seemingly unconcerned, with respect to payment of the $6 million gratuity entitlement,” he said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri and Ncube are still to respond to the court application.

In 1997, the government awarded $50 000 compensation to each war veteran of the country’s liberation struggle. The huge payouts resulted in the collapse of the local currency against major currencies, marking the beginning of economic deterioration in the country.