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Defence minister Muchinguri explains the war veterans bill

by Stephen Jakes
24 Mar 2020 at 08:56hrs | Views
THE Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri has said the drafting of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill is in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa's legislative agenda to align all outstanding laws to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

She told parliament that to satisfy this requirement, her Ministry initiated the alignment process by carrying out stakeholder consultations.

"Outcomes from the consultative workshops were then used to develop principles which led to the drafting of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill. The Bill was then approved at Cabinet level, gazetted and is now at the Second Reading Stage," she said.

"The purpose of the Bill is to align the existing legislation to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and repeal the War Veterans Act (Chapter 11:15), the Ex-Political Prisoners Detainees and Restrictees Act (Chapter 17:10) and also provides for one consolidated Act called the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act which provides for all categories of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle that are provided for in Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as "those who fought, those who assisted and those who were imprisoned, detained or restricted".

She said the Bill clearly distinguishes the four categories by defining "Veterans of the Liberation Struggle" as; a liberation war fighter, an ex-political prisoner, detainee or restrictee, or a person who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation, that is to say a war collaborator or a non-combatant cadre.

"Each category has its own definition provided for in the Bill clearly showing that the categories are not the same. Therefore, without derogation from Section 86 of the Constitution and 21 of the Interpretation Act (Chapter 1:01), Statutory Instruments will be provided to cater for different benefits to be granted or paid to different categories of veterans of the liberation struggle," she said.

"The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act (2013) clearly provides the basis upon which the Bill was drafted. It explicitly recognises the liberation struggle as an important part of the history of the country which should always remind us and influence the way the country is governed."

Muchinguri said the Preamble exalts and extols the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles.

She said Section 3 of the Constitution provides for the recognition and respect for the liberation struggle as well as recognition of the rights of veterans of the liberation struggle as some of the enduring founding values and principles of good governance of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

"Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe also obligates the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level to accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle. The same Section also obligates the State to take reasonable measures, including legislative measures for the welfare and economic empowerment of veterans of the liberation struggle. Section 84 prescribes as fundamental, entrenched and inalienable rights, the entitlement of veterans of the liberation struggle to due recognition for their contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe and to suitable welfare such as pensions and access to basic health care through an Act of Parliament," she said.

"The Bill was, therefore drafted, to show an explicit link between itself and the Constitution, thus complying with the supreme law. It is not the intention of the Bill to take away any benefit that a war veteran or detainee is currently getting; rather, it seeks to add other categories that participated in the liberation struggle which were recognised in the current Constitution."

She said the provisions of the War Veterans Act and the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act were incorporated in the Bill.

"The main difference evident in the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill is the inclusion of four categories that form the veterans of the liberation struggle as defined in the Constitution. The Bill, therefore, provides a legal framework for the recognition of veterans of the liberation struggle and it will unlock the specific benefits that relate to them through statutory instruments," she said.

Source - Byo24News