Indian company interested in building war memorial hospitals in Zimbabwe


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One of the largest Indian civil contracting companies in interested in building proposed war memorial hospitals in Zimbabwe which will have a section catering specifically for issues that affect the country’s liberation fighters.

War Veterans Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa told Parliament last week that President Robert Mugabe was avidly following this matter up during his visit to India last week.

Mutsvangwa said the cabinet had already approved the war veterans memorial hospitals.

“I am happy to say, just yesterday, His Excellency, the President, was with our Indian partners in New Dehli,” Mutsvangwa said in response to a question by Musikavanhu Member of Parliament Prosper Mutseyami who wanted to know what the government was doing about war veterans some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of what they went through during the liberation struggle.

“We are very grateful that one of the largest Indian companies if not the largest civil contracting company is keen to be associated with war memorial hospitals for the war veterans,” Mutsvangwa said. “His Excellency is avidly following this matter and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is also coming on board. Once we have those hospitals, which will be open to everyone, we may also have a section dedicated to the issues which have been raised by Hon. Mutseyami.”

The minister said several embassies, some of which were inimical to working with war veterans before were also coming on board.

“I keep canvassing the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to do what he can. Beyond that, we are now working with some of the embassies of those countries which were inimical to working with the war veterans, they are coming on board. Some of these countries have a lot of experience because they have been involved in many wars since the First World War.

“We are hoping that we can tap into their expertise to deal with the disorders which are being referred to. The response which we are getting, even from the western embassies, is good. I hope that in due course, the European Union may for the first time consider including the issues of the war veterans in its indicative programmes.”

Mutsvangwa said while this was coming 35 years too late, it was better late than never.

 

Q & A:

 

*HON. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to ask a question. I am directing my question to the Minister of War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, Hon. Mutsvangwa. May you please explain to this House so that we know of the Government policy regarding war veterans because of the way which they are living after participating in such a war? Some of them suffered post traumatic stress and they need to be attended to. With time, that illness is getting to unacceptable levels….

HON. ZINDI: On a point of order Hon. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

*HON. ZINDI: My point of order is the fact that the Hon. Member is saying the war veterans are mentally retarded – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am addressing the Chair. The Hon. Member said the war veterans are mentally retarded because of participating in the war of liberation. I am one of the war veterans and I know that I am mentally fit, I am not retarded. May the Hon. Member withdraw that statement.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Order! Let the Hon. Minister deal with the question accordingly. Can you complete your question Hon. Mutseyami.

*HON. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. For the reason that the war veterans were at the war front, sometimes they saw unpleasant things and some became mentally disturbed. I would like to ask the Hon. Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaboration, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, what the Ministry is doing – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I will speak in English.

Hon. Speaker, my question to the Hon. Minister is basically to do with the war veterans. We have seen war veterans in and outside the city, in the peri-urban and the rural areas who have a challenge of being traumatised as a result of what they went through during the liberation struggle. What is Government policy with regard to specific rehabilitation of the war veterans – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – in the rural areas, bearing in mind that coming to town is a challenge? If we can have counseling centres and post-traumatic stress centres – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF WELFARE SERVICES FOR WAR VETERANS, WAR COLLABORATION, FORMER POLITICAL DETAINEES AND RESTRICTEES (HON. C. MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to recognise Hon. Mutseyami’s question and acknowledge his clear concern about the war veterans, in particular, the issues that arise from taking part in conflict situations. For instance, the victimization that arises out of the peculiar circumstances of violent conflict like the one which the country underwent, particularly from the 1960s until victory in 1979.

It is common knowledge that war is a terrible thing because it causes loss of life and damages the body. In our instance, for those survivors, some of them were victims of experimental biological warfare by the Rhodesian Army where people were victims of napalm. I escaped cyanide poisoning whilst about 8 members of my colleagues perished after wearing jeans which were laced with cyanide. On sweating, these comrades all died. I missed that group because I was elsewhere, I could have worn those jeans.

Chemical warfare was rife on the part of the Rhodesians because they wanted to make up for their inferior numbers to those of the liberation war fighters who were in bigger numbers. However, beyond that, there were issues to do with napalm bombing from the Rhodesian army in an encounter with the Rhodesian Air force. There was also biological warfare on the part of the Rhodesians. There are the infamous cases of the South Africans like ‘Dr. Death’, who were part of the Rhodesian network of chemical warfare.

Obviously, all these things do affect the body, even in the aftermath of the war. There is also the mere trauma of being involved in combat and surviving where you witness the death of so many people dying. Therefore, it is true that we do have these cases. With the way our independence was won, the efforts at post independence, consolidation of our national sovereignty, a lot of these issues were not adequately addressed from the onset. We were an experimental demobilization state and things which have been done for other countries in post-conflict were not done in Zimbabwe. So there is an issue arising from what the Hon. Member has said.

I am happy to say that we now have a Ministry which is addressing these issues. The President has seen it fit to have a dedicated Ministry because he is very alive to these issues which arose from these circumstances. The issues which arise are the expense and the expectations of what the Ministry can deliver, vis-à-vis, the resources which are available. Everybody knows that our economy has not been doing well. We have been a victim of sanctions and many other ailments by our traditional economic cooperating partners.

However, the good thing is that we are now having an engagement and hopefully the fortunes of this economy will start to improve. It is then that we will begin to have adequate resources. Meanwhile, I keep canvassing the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to do what he can. Beyond that, we are now working with some of the embassies of those countries which were inimical to working with the war veterans, they are coming on board. Some of these countries have a lot of experience because they have been involved in many wars since the First World War.

We are hoping that we can tap into their expertise to deal with the disorders which are being referred to. The response which we are getting, even from the western embassies, is good. I hope that in due course, the European Union may for the first time consider including the issues of the war veterans in its indicative programmes. These issues of welfare and post war trauma nature can be addressed. I am also working on war veterans memorial hospitals, the Cabinet has approved it. I am happy to say, just yesterday, His Excellency, the President, was with our Indian partners in New Dehli.

We are very grateful that one of the largest Indian companies if not the largest civil contracting company is keen to be associated with war memorial hospitals for the war veterans. His Excellency is avidly following this matter and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is also coming on board. Once we have those hospitals, which will be open to everyone, we may also have a section dedicated to the issues which have been raised by Hon. Mutseyami.

On that note, I would like to say, we are very live to what you have raised. I am confident to say that it is better late than never. These issues have not been properly addressed, 35 years into independence but now we are rising to the occasion. I hope that in the fullness of time and the shortest possible time, we should be having something satisfactory coming to the House to the satisfaction of Hon. Mutseyami and other Hon. Members. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Wadyajena having stood up to ask a supplementary question.

THE HON. SPEAKER: How does the supplementary arise? I thought the Hon. Minister’s response is very comprehensive. The Hon. Minister’s response was very comprehensive.

(57 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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