Monday, September 26, 2022

Veterinarians released for Zimbabwe’s liberation war following protests against low pensions

A court in Zimbabwe on Friday ordered the release of about 40 veterans of the 1970s national war of independence, four days after they tried to petition President Emmerson Mnangagwa for their low monthly pension.

Their lawyers accuse the government of infringing on citizens’ right to demonstrate, especially those who opposed President Mnangagwa’s rule.

War veterans chatted in front of the courtroom on Friday after Magistrate Barbra Mateco ordered them to be released on $ 40 bail. They were arrested Monday while trying to go to Mnangagwa’s office to ask for a review of their monthly pension of less than $ 100.

Paidamyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers speaks with the VOA before the Harare Magistrates’ Court on October 29, 2021 after he successfully secured bail for war veterans. (Columbus Mawhunga / VOA)

Paidamyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe’s Advocates for Human Rights spoke with Voice of America after securing bail for war veterans.

“It is not a crime to demonstrate in Zimbabwe, it is not a crime to file petitions. This is actually provided for by the constitution, “Saurombe said. And our clients followed the provisions of the Constitution, so it would be absurd to say that they committed a crime.”

The veterans are expected to stand trial next month. The offense of “breaking the peace” they face is subject to the possibility of a fine if they are found guilty.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses senior members of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party on October 29, 2021 in Bindur, about 80 km north of Harare (Columbus Mawhunga / Voice of the United States).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses senior members of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party on October 29, 2021 in Bindur, about 80 km north of Harare (Columbus Mawhunga / Voice of the United States).

Addressing senior members of the ruling ZANU-PF party on Friday in Bindur, about 80 kilometers north of Harare, President Mnangagwa said war veterans had violated protocol.

“Various initiatives have been implemented to improve the dignity, well-being and economic empowerment of veterans of the liberation struggle and hero addiction,” Mnangagwa said. “But I urge war veterans to use procedures within the party, not outside the party. Their rich ideological foundation should stimulate the principle of patriotism in the hearts and minds of employees and inspire them in their efforts to ensure that ZANU-PF remains the elected party that truly serves the people. ”

In court, one of the war veterans, who identified himself as Cde Tendai, said he was glad his colleagues were released on bail, as some of them suffer from chronic illnesses.

“We were concerned about their health,” Tendai said. “We feared that some of them might die, because most war veterans are stressed by many things. We were surprised by their arrests. We have not used violence, we respect the rule of law and our government. The only problem was that we want to petition because we get very little money given how difficult life is. ”

Zimbabwe’s war of liberation from the rule of Ian Smith, led by the white minority, lasted 16 years, from 1964 to 1980. The government still pays monthly pensions to some 30,000 war veterans.

Nation World News Desk
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