ZPRA veterans criticise govt for violating constitution

Members of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) Veterans Association have criticised the government for purposefully abusing and violating the country’s constitution for its own selfish interests, by failing to implement electoral reforms as the country heads into elections.

Addressing journalists at the Bulawayo Media Centre, ZPRA cadre Joakim Trust Moyo said the constitution served as a manual of systematic operations, where constitutionalism meant governing responsibly and adhering to the constitution.

“There is no constitutionalism in Zimbabwe because many times there are some disputed acts and aspects of the law that do not take cognizance of what is enshrined in the Constitution. There are some shortcuts made here and there. Look at the Electoral Amendment Bill, it did not make it through and we have an Electoral Act that is not rooted in the Constitution,” he said.

“That is a failure of constitutionalism.”

Moyo noted that government officials were skirting the law, grandstanding and entitling themselves to what is wrong. He cited one of the issues that violated the constitution was how the land was not given equitably in Zimbabwe.

“Do a survey of resettled people and how they came to own that land, and you will be shocked. The land is no longer a right but now a sort of privilege for the monied.”

Moyo said the constitution stated that land belongs to Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, regardless of their political orientation and wealth, but is now “parcelled out for money.” He added that State officials knew exactly what the Constitution said but they misinterpreted it for their own private gain.

The former freedom fighter said when the new constitution was crafted, the intention was to even up the ground so that everybody follows the Constitution.

“Now, you will find somebody who has nothing to do with Chimanimani, heading Chimanimani. Get me right, we are not saying people are not free to settle anywhere. But when you take leadership in a place, you have to be grounded on the value systems, requirements and needs of what the people in that locality want.”

Another abuse of the constitution Moyo cited was the ownership of veterans by political parties, which was a “demotion of the highest order.”

“War veterans should be national heritage. They should not belong to any party. If by chance, one as an individual chooses to wear some political gabardine, it’s their choice but don’t call yourself war veterans. You cannot speak on behalf of all veterans.”

Moyo urged the government to interpret the Constitution correctly and reward war veterans well.

“Some war veterans live in abject poverty. Those people who really suffered the brunt for bringing about Zimbabwe are living in abject poverty. Comrade Moffat Hadebe, who shot the first bullet for the liberation war, lives in abject poverty in Magwegwe North,” he lamented, noting there were some government officials who benefitted from lying about the liberation struggle.

“There are people up there who say, ‘salifela ilizwe leli.’ There is no constitutionalism there and justification whatsoever. People feel they are entitled to govern because they went to war. But a clear, clean, introspective look will reveal some of those people are suspect. They are not clean and they need to be cleaned up.”

The ZPRA member said veterans must uphold constitutionalism if they are a national heritage and suggested that bonafide veterans should be given a quota in the government to guide officials.

“People are suffering and veterans have to complete what they started. They have to bequeath a legacy to children on constitutionalism and adherence to the principles of the liberation war,” Moyo summed.

ZPRA Veterans Association Spokesperson Buster Magwizi concurred the government had failed to implement electoral and media reforms and was to blame for the chaos surrounding the elections.

“The electoral field is not level, opposition parties are struggling to campaign freely and on ZBC, you only hear the president’s voice, what about our voices?” Magwizi asked.

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