Home » Governance » Response to Amai Jukwa – War Veterans Deserve the Money [opinion]

On March 30, columnist Amai Jukwa wrote a piece titled “War veterans should back off” in which it was opined that liberation war fighters had a “disagreeable sense of financial entitlement” and even worse than mercenaries because, “To be fair, mercenaries are far more reasonable in their expectations, content with a one-off payment.”

The article was in support of an MDC-T legislator who had previously heckled ZANU-PF legislators during debate on a motion on the plight of war veterans.

Cognisant of Amai Jukwa’s right to freedom of expression, which freedom was brought to many Zimbabweans through extreme sacrifice by war veterans, some of whom were maimed during the war of liberation, the attack was unwarranted.

The Rhodesians that viciously fought the war veterans using poisonous chemicals in food and bombed refugees in Mozambique and Zambia are still getting their pensions from the Zimbabwe Government.

It is thus shameful for our respected Muchembere to use the might of the pen to attack war veterans on a motion that was being debated in a democratic and peaceful manner in the august House regardless of the emotions evoked by such discourses.

The use of derogatory words like “nonsense”, “super citizens” and “mercenary attitude” in attacking war veterans seems alien to Amai Jukwa’s otherwise sober contributions, suggesting some induced incentives to engage in such a tirade.

Was it that the good columnist was running out of synonyms by comparing war veterans to mercenaries like Bod Denard or Libyan rebels?

Amai Jukwa and those from her school of thought must be reminded that war veterans are not calling for anything that is outside the purview of the laws of the land that were promulgated by the Parliament of Zimbabwe, in which Parliament the debate was taking place.

The War Veterans Act is an Act of Parliament that stipulates how the war veterans as an organisation of institutional memory should be remembered, recognised and honoured.

The War Veterans Act forms the organisation that has become Zimbabwe’s symbol of institutional memory which reminds Zimbabweans of how the freedom we now enjoy today came about.

Honouring, remembering and respecting war veterans is not unique to Zimbabwe but is an accepted practice in countries such as Mozambique, Angola, China, Russia and America just to mention a few.

A similar highly emotional debate happened in Nevada in the USA where issues to do with honouring war veterans were extremely explosive, resulting in the American war veterans being rewarded handsomely.

Ironically, no American columnist or politicians labelled the American liberation war veterans mercenaries.

In her article, Amai Jukwa, acknowledges that war veterans are complaining over perceived neglect by fellow comrades who are in Government.

Indeed, rightly so.

It must be noted here that the President also acknowledged during his 90th birthday the need to look after war veterans and directed the war veterans to be united so that their welfare could be addressed in a better way.

Amai Jukwa must be reminded that some people in Government today were either fighting on the SmithMuzorewa side or globe-trotting.

Today, they drive posh Government cars and earn huge sums of money while war veterans remain poor and she has the guts to say they must remain poor for nobility.

Does nobility equal poverty or vice versa?

Amai Jukwa notes that the term war veteran “has become a term of abuse, hardly endearing”.

One wonders to who is the term not endearing and for what reasons? If the term war veteran is not endearing to Amai Jukwa for making her what she is today what more of the terms “Madzakutsaku”, “mapuruvheya”, “masukuzuapo” who up to today are still getting pensions at the expense of revolutionary Zimbabweans!

Do they have any symbolism that makes them viewed as democrats?

True, war veterans are by no means angels which cannot be criticised.

However, to equate them to mercenaries is a bit too much.

Amai Jukwa asks in her article: “Are war veterans entitled to special treatment”? My humble answer is no, but they deserve to be treated according to the laws of the land.

What Comrade Mandi was invoking is contained in the Act of Parliament passed by the legislature and signed into law by the State President.

This can be argued in a different way. The debate was about interpreting the Act with a view of improving the recognition and honour of war veterans.

Amai Jukwa makes a wrong assumption that war veterans feel they are owed financial security at the expense of everyone else.

No, far from that: war veterans want Parliament to contextualise what they mean by recognition and honour.

They also have a legal right to be given whatever is provided for them by the law in whatever form.

It should also be noted that war veterans do not believe in taxpayers owing them a comfortable living more than orphans equally in need of State assistance.

War veterans are dutifully, through those in Parliament, lobbying Government to respect the law that was enacted by Parliament.

Those with different views can wait until the Act is amended or repealed.

It cannot only be war veterans that should temper their sense of entitlement by recognising the unsung heroes of the liberation struggle while the MDC formations which Amai Jukwa agreed with on this issue are rocking the economic boat as they continue to dine with the wolves.

Americans are not ashamed of recognising, honouring and keeping well their war veterans equally the Chinese, Russians and Europeans.

It is therefore surprising how some feel respecting their own symbols of institutional liberation memories as is the global practice and norm is wrong.

Panganai Kahuni is a political socio-economic commentator.

Source : The Herald