ZIMBABWEAN parliament has handed down a shocking ruling that the family of one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated liberation war heroes, Josiah Magama Tongogara is not entitled to get anything from the war veterans’ fund.
The ruling also implies to war veterans who died before 1997, the argument being that they were not physically present to prove they fought for the liberation of this country.
This was announced in parliament yesterday by the director of War Veterans’ Affairs in the Ministry of Defence, Retired Major General Richard Ruwodo.
Tongagara is the most respected freedom fighter alongside Dumiso Dabengwa and the late Lokout Masuku, yet those remaining behind have totally betrayed his heroism.
Ruwodo, who appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs chaired by Glen View South MP Paul Madzore, said the War Veterans Act automatically disqualifies anybody that did not physically present themselves for vetting in 1997 from benefiting.
What this means is that dependants of heroes such as Tongogara did not get the $50 000 compensation lump sum disbursed in 1997, and do not get the monthly $160 pension as well as other benefits like education, medical and other assistance that the State provides to war veterans and families of those who died after 1997.
Ruwodo said the “serious discrepancy” originated from the manner the War Veterans Act was crafted.
MPs expressed shock at the revelation and asked Ruwodo if it was real that Tongogara’s dependants did not benefit from the fund.
Ruwodo confirmed their fears saying: “Our Act has discrepancies in that it does not recognise war veterans who died prior to 1997 before vetting took place and it means national heroes like Tongogara are not catered for.
“The heroes who died prior to 1997 are catered for through the Department of Social Welfare.”
However, after the announcement, Ruwodo said he was unhappy with the status quo and was bitter that Tongogara, whom he said was his commander during the war, had been treated like this by the laws of this country.
Additional Reporting by Newsday.