War vets demand independent commission

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WAR veterans are demanding an independent commission to oversee their welfare to replace the current Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board.
This emerged at a Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill public consultations held by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs in the city yesterday. The committee is on a national tour where it is gathering views on the bill.
Yesterday, former liberation fighters — who convened at Entumbane Hall for the consultations — said the Bill must provide for a commission, which is more powerful than the proposed board. Section 3 of the Bill provides for the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board, its functions and powers.
The board, to be appointed by the minister will oversee issues relating to rights, benefits and general welfare of veterans of the liberation struggle, among others.
“The Bill must provide for the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Commission similar to other independent commissions that have been set up, not a board. An independent commission has more powers than a board,” said Andrew Ndlovu.
Another contributor, Robert Ncube, echoed the same sentiments, adding that a board will represent the interests of government.
“Independent commissions are not subject to control by the appointing minister because they answer directly to Parliament whereas a board answers to the minister. This is why we are recommending that a commission must oversee our affairs, Ncube said.
Section 235 of the Constitution guarantees independence of commissions by providing that they are not subject to control of anyone, are answerable to Parliament for the efficient performance of their functions amongst other provisions.
Contributors also expressed concern that section 12 of the Bill, which entitles them to basic pension is vague.
While others suggested that the basic pension must be above the poverty datum line or be at par with that of civil servants, some demanded one equivalent to that of a brigadier-general.
“The Bill is not clear on how much the war collaborators will be receiving. We propose that the basic pension be equivalent to the salary of a soldier who holds the position of a brigadier-general,” Christian Mabasa said.
War veterans also highlighted that the current access to basic medical healthcare at government hospitals does not cater for their health needs and proposed that the medical scheme be expanded to allow them to get treatment at private hospitals.

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