Pre-independence political detainees and prisoners have dragged the government to court demanding gratuities of Z$6 million, arguing discussions that started in 2005 have led them nowhere.
Sanikidzai Suncall Musiyazviriyo and Charles Peter Chitewo, representatives of a pressure group called the Political Prisoners and Detainees in Pre-Independent Zimbabwe, filed the case at the High Court.
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They cited defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and finance minister Mthuli Ncube as first and second respondents, respectively. Reads their application:
_This is an application first for a declaratory order that the applicant and all lawfully registered ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees are entitled to be paid a gratuity of Z$6 million, payable once only, in terms of Section 27 (4) of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act, Chapter 17:12._
_Secondly, a consequential compelling order that the two ministers jointly and severally the one complying for the other to be absolved pay applicants and all qualifying ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees their Z$6 million gratuity in terms of Statutory Instrument (SI)194/2005 by the day of the month succeeding the month of grant of such order._
Through SI 194 of 2005, the government of the late president Robert Mugabe pledged to give liberation prisoners and detainees Z$6 million one-off gratuities payable after January 2006.
Musiyazviriyo argued that while all the applicants had “a constitutional right” to benefit as promised by the government in 2006, the government had chosen not to pay applicants the mandatory $6 million gratuities. He added:
_Both respondents have appeared and acted unmoved, if not actually seemingly non-concerned with respect to payment of the $6 million gratuity entitlement._
The matter is yet to be heard.
In 1997 the government had made unbudgeted payments of Z$50 000 to war veterans per head and the move is viewed as one of the factors that led to the economic downturn in Zimbabwe.