I am no lawyer but….

I have just been sent a copy of Zimbabwe’s new constitution which is due to go before a referendum sometime next month. I have not read more than a small part of it, but one element caught my eye, that which relates to ‘War Veterans’ and the ‘Liberation Struggle’. It seems that anybody who fought in the Liberation Struggle must be honoured and protected and receive some sort of pension. (The fact that it was the awarding of vast ad-hoc pensions in 1999 which precipitated the collapse of the local currency and brought about the country’s economic ruin, seems to have been overlooked.) What my quick perusal has not uncovered, though it may be there, is that there does not seem to be any distinction with regards to the opposing factions of the war. I fought in the Liberation Struggle, albeit on the losing side, and am therefore a War Veteran. Is there any reason why I should not be awarded the same benefits that those against whom I fought? Would a constitutional lawyer be able to make a case?

It does seem to me to be very ill-thought out document. I note that women must be afforded equal rights and that all government commissions etc. must comprise at least 50% women. Thus technically, there can be more women than men on a commission, though not the other way round. Not exactly equal. Of course, I don’t suppose any of that really matters. The purpose of this, as with so many African constitutions, is to determine the powers of the President and the number of terms he can serve and the protection from prosecution he can expect.

Here is a site from which the Constitution can be downloaded.

http://www.copac.org.zw/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&id=10&Itemid=157

14 thoughts on “I am no lawyer but….”

  1. You should send in your application, Sipu. There is similar legislation in place in Cyprus for the EOKA Mob. Though not for the communists who also had ‘fighters’ in the field and who the EOKA mob spent more time fighting than they actually did against the British. It would also seem to be the case that there are a lot more ex- EOKA men than there were actual EOKA fighters…

    In the village where my daughter lives, there is a large and well appointed care facility for EOKA pensioners.

    It is interesting that there is no similar pension provision, or care facilities, for the soldiers who resisted so valiantly the Turkish invasion of ’74.

  2. Hi Bravo, thanks for your comment. I think I may wait a few years before submitting my application. I am not sure that it would be prudent to do so just yet. I am in the process of trying to resurrect my residence status which has expired on account of my not having lived there for too long a period. I am having to jump through several expensive and intricate hoops in order to achieve my goal.

    I was told by several consultants that I would have to re-enter as an investor. This would involve buying/forming a company and bringing a significant amount of cash into the country. The big drawback here though is that my company would have to be ‘Indigenised’. This means that I require a black partner who would own 51% of the company. I am fortunate to the extent that I went to one of the few multiracial schools durng the Rhodesian era and so have friends who I can trust in this regard, (at least I hope I can trust), though what contribution he would make remains a moot point. As you can imagine the system does lend itself to abuse. I was recently told that I have received approval for my Indigenisation plan from the Minister himself, the Honorable Saviour Kasukuwere, so on that front, it seems I am good to go. However, it now appears that I may be able to get back as a returning resident after all. This would be a much better option as I would not have to commit to spending vast amounts of money on ill-conceived business schemes and risk having them embezzled or simply confiscated.

    Another interesting aspect of the Constitution is the right to citizenship. It now extends to parents. My mother was born in the country. Her father had been a mining engineer who had gone there after the Boer War and returned after WWI. I am sure that anybody reading this is wondering why anyone would want to visit Zimbabwe, let alone live there and become a citizen, but compared to anywhere else I have lived, it is still the most beautiful and, perhaps ironically, one of the most free. I have learned that democracy, universal suffrage and free speech do not equate to freedom.

  3. I am sure that anybody reading this is wondering why anyone would want to visit Zimbabwe, let alone live there and become a citizen, but compared to anywhere else I have lived, it is still the most beautiful and, perhaps ironically, one of the most free. I have learned that democracy, universal suffrage and free speech do not equate to freedom.

    I am certainly one of those who wonder why you would want to return to live in Zimbabwe – and then I remembered that my favourite Aunt, born in the UK, lived in South Africa for many years and died in America, once said – she could never get Africa out of her soul.

    Despite my horror at what I perceive England has become – I will never be able to remove England from my soul. I wish you luck with your endeavour to return and live in your soul-country.

    I, too, have learnt that the accepted ‘definition’ of democracy, universal suffrage, and gender equality are quite meaningless and do not equate to ‘freedom’.

  4. Boadicea :

    Despite my horror at what I perceive England has become – I will never be able to remove England from my soul..

    Amen to that, but I could never go back.

    OZ

  5. I like your expression “soul-country”, Boadicea. In my case it’s Scotland but with children and grandchildren all in England, I won’t be returning to live there.

  6. No, Sipu, what you say makes perfect sense. I cannot claim to have been to Zimbabwe
    but from what I know through reputable accounts the country, despite the horrors and traumas,
    has retained a great deal of civility. I also understand your willingness to take on the risk of going
    back. My own situation is vastly simpler and less complicated, but I’ve decided to forgo job offers
    in Australia and accept a large reduction in what I can expect to be paid in the pathetic joke south of Canada by repatriating to Germany. Germany is not that bad a country to live in and life is well-organised
    as well as moderately priced. I miss it, especially Trier. The Icelandic language has a good term for it:
    “heima”. Some translate it as “home”, but the English word has lost 99pc of its meaning through misuse.

  7. Thanks for the comments. I am pretty sure that most people have an indelible link to the surroundings in which they grew up. It does not matter where it was, but if the childhood was a remotely happy, they will have a longing to return.

  8. Interesting how these third world countries choose to deny citizenship to people born and bred there (when they are white) and yet still expect to collect citizenship and handouts as immigrants in the UK!
    The boy had a friend who was born in the Emirates, spent most of his life there, still is living and working there, speaks arabic just like a native, must be 40 or so now and has consistently been refused citizenship time and time again.

    I do understand your principle of returning home, I would return to Wales tomorrow were I by myself. I do have to admit to passing through England as quickly as possible and very nearly burst into tears when I see the Croeso y Cymru sign over the bridge.

  9. Hello Sipu:
    Regarding your application for “veterans benefits” I can only echo my mother’s advice about doing anything even slightly risky “Don’t do it son, you will only draw attention to yourself.” Her worst nightmare was “getting your name in the paper” it did not seem to matter weather it was as a result of an arrest for homicide or the receipt of a knighthood.

  10. Hi LW, I think your mother was a wise woman.
    Thanks Soutie, I did not know that SADF members were included. I wonder how many know about it. I am still sceptical that the ZIm constitutions intends to include Rhodesian Army veterans, but following LW’s advice, I think I will get somebody else to be the guinea pig.

  11. My mum’s advice was the complete opposite of LW’s mother! But, I’m inclined to agree with you, Sipu, that in the present circumstances in Zimbabwe it is probably safer to let other people ‘be the guinea pigs’,

    I’m not too sure that identifying with a specific country is entirely due to happy childhood experiences. Like Christina, I ‘very nearly burst into tears’ when I land at Heathrow. I don’t think that either Bearsy or my eldest daughter feel the same as I do.

  12. I have just been told that the EU paid Eu 19 million for the authors to write the constitution. Not sure that I would describe it as money well spent.

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