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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 32
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
June 21, 2012

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20 MPS Take HIV Test

Twenty Members of Parliament took HIV Tests this week, in a move that will help put the issue of testing on the fore. This comes at a time when some members of the august house were making statements viewed as reversing the gains realised in the fight against the disease. We say to those who took the tests: Well done!

Village Observer

We all called him Jemu. This was an obvious corruption of James. We always said about him: Anga ari mukomuredhika uyu. He was a freedom fighter. Walwa impi yenkhululeko. Until 1997, he was an ordinary villager. We were together in all our struggles for survival in the village especially after 1990. With the implementation of ESAP. Worse in 1992, with that drought which up to now is a fertile ground for research on how a country can be food secure.

However, Jemu's life changed in 1997, after he received his huge payout like anyone else, who had fought for the country. We held no grudge. At least we thought it was worth it. He had all scars to show for the war. Physical and emotional scars. Which to some extent explained his temper. After the $50 000 had fizzled out, Jemu “came back” to the village. Literally that is. He joined us every time we went for a beer drink. No one held any grudge that when his things were well, he literally abandoned the village for the city and all its woes.

Then Jemu passed away in 2007. No one knows how his family fairs. I am told that he had lots of them. Compare Jemu's story to that of a liberation hero, declared a hero. His/her children can seamlessly walk in corridors of power, cutting dealing, getting favours because the father/mother was in the bush with those now powerful. Jemu's children have nothing to show, their father, brave enough to heed a call for duty left them not much. He was cheated of his youth by fate, for a greater cause than personal development of course.

The children may not trade this for a better present. This brings me to the issue of the welfare of war veterans as discussed in Parliament this week. The debate, I agreed with my antagonist Matigari, took an easy path. The familiar path we have always been subjected the media, followed the same path to say: Even Josiah Magama Tongogara's children were not entitled to compensation. This is a very simplistic way of unravelling the issue.

This is what has been happening since 1997 when the war veterans got the hefty packages. We have since then been framing the issue as demand for compensation, nothing else. This is something deeper.

A small story will drive my point home. A retired colonel, who is also a drinking partner, said he was given a huge suitcase in 1979 when he was in a country in the Middle East. It was for onward transmission to Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru). Curiosity got the better of him and he opened the suitcase. “What if it were a parcel bomb?” It was better for him to be blown than Comrade Rex. The suitcase was full of crispy US$. He did not take even a single dollar, forwarded the suitcase to Comrade Rex. “It was money for the cause,” said the retired colonel. His next question was: “Do you think if that opportunity knocks again, I will hand over the notes?”

This summarises the lost cause mentality we are in. Calls for compensation are a result of the economic malaise and the rampant corruption by politicians. This was the case in 1997 and it is the case now. Correct the economy and we will have few of the calls for compensation. When we talk of compensation, it will make more sense if it is framed within the dilemma of Jemu, who never got the chance to walk in the corridors of power. Until the issue is framed thus and addressed through a holistic approach, the alienation of the cause will continue and there is going to be patronising of the freedom fighters. The client patronage established in 1997 and reversed within the same year will continue.

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