Zim starts public hearings on war vets

ZIMBABWE today begins a public hearing on how to provide for rights and benefits of veterans of the liberation struggle and their dependants.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services will hold public hearings on the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill  from Monday to Friday next week. Two teams of committee members will traverse the country’s 10 provinces, fielding testimony from citizens.
The Bill, which also provides for the establishment of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Fund; to provide for the establishment of a Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board, its composition and functions and to repeal the War Veterans Act [Chapter 11:15]; to repeal the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act [Chapter 17:10], has stirred concern that such laws could accelerate economic collapse.
The veterans have been used as political shock troops by the Zanu PF government.
A panel set up to consider possible measures, including legislation, is expected to draw responses from the public.
The veterans led a wave of violent occupations of white farms as part of reforms that began in 2000.
Late former President Robert Mugabe’s critics say the reforms played a big part in ruining the economy. He blamed Western sanctions for the economic damage.

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War veterans in November 1999 forced Mugabe to give them unbudgeted payouts after they marched to his State House offices resulting in the Zimbabwe dollar plunging 71 percent in value on a day that came to be known as “Black Friday.”
According to the Constitution, the State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle.
The veterans include those who fought in the 70s war of liberation; those who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation; and those who were imprisoned, detained or restricted for political reasons during the liberation struggle.
The Constitution says the State must take reasonable measures, including legislative measures, for the welfare and economic empowerment of veterans of the liberation struggle.
They are also entitled to due recognition for their contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe, and to suitable welfare such as pensions and access to basic healthcare.

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