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War vets leader pushes for reburials

by Staff reporter
18 Feb 2024 at 04:13hrs | Views
A war veterans' leader Sam Parerenyatwa has petitioned Parliament to exercise its powers to cause the repatriation and reburial of the remains of thousands of Zimbabweans  buried mostly in mass, shallow and in some cases unmarked graves in Zambia and Mozambique.

National Assembly speaker Jacob Mudenda last week Wednesday told legislators that the petition has been referred to the portfolio committee on defence, home affairs, and war veterans affairs for consideration.

"I also have to inform the House that on Wednesday, 8th January 2024, Parliament received a petition from Sam Parirenyatwa beseeching Parliament to exercise its legislative and oversight roles in ensuring the repatriation and reburial of the gallant sons and daughters who perished during the war of liberation and buried in Mozambique and Zambia, as well as ensuring government improves the state of district and provincial heroes acres," Mudenda said.

Parerenyatwa is an executive member of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) as well as chairperson of the association's Mashonaland Central provincial leadership.

He told  The Standard that he was motivated to petition Parliament after realising that 44 years after independence, most of the country's fallen heroes were still lying in foreign lands.

He said when the ZNLWVA leadership visited some of the mass graves in Zambia and Mozambique in 2021 and 2022, they discovered that they were in a state of neglect.

Most of the fallen cadres were buried at Mkushi, Freedom Camp, Nyadzonia, Tembwe and Chimoio in Zambia and Mozambique, respectively

"When we buried these fallen cadres in foreign lands during the war, the undertaking was that we would repatriate their remains back home soon after independence but this has not happened, and the spirits of these heroes are coming back to haunt us the living ones," Parirenyatwa said.

" Considering that Zimbabwe was born out of the blood and sweat of gallant sons and daughters of this country, it will be a travesty of the ideals of the war of liberation should the nation continue to ignore and neglect the departed heroes of our independence.

"The main reason why we are approaching Parliament is because currently, we have no enabling legislation to provide budgetary support for this exercise.

"The War Veterans Act is silent on this issue, so we are banking on legislators to come up with the requisite legislative changes to pave the way for this noble cause," said Parerenyatwa.

He said Section 23 of the constitution on the veterans of the liberation struggle, and Section 84 on the rights of the veterans of the liberation struggle are both silent on the fate of those who died during the war.

He also expressed concern that at the moment, families of departed fighters are footing the repatriation and reburial costs once they discover the site where their relative is buried.

 In some cases, war veterans leaders chip in with their meagre pensions to meet the reburial costs.

Source - the standard