By Justin Mahlahla
Senate sat yesterday with the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Honourable Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Resettlement, Honourable Marian Chombo fielding questions from the gallery.
Responding to a question on the ongoing registration and criteria for war collaborators, commonly referred to as “vana chimbwido or mujibha”, for possible compensation and gratuities, Comrade Muchinguri-Kashiri said the registration exercise will end on 17 July 2021.
She said the War Veterans Act also stipulates who exactly qualifies for compensation or gratuity, with the assistance of traditional and community leaders.
Those who feel they are unjustifiably left out of the defined classes can approach the appeals committee for redress. Otherwise, if we accept everyone then every Zimbabwean will claim a benefit, she explained, adding, We will also consider what other countries have done in such circumstances.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri appealed to Senators to be patient as the registration process takes shape and promised to revert to the Upper House should the need arise.
You defined and approved the processes, we shall come back to you whenever we need your assistance and guidance.
The minister also responded to a question in relation to how communities can engage the services of the army in reconstruction programmes, especially in areas where infrastructure was destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
Our army is not only reserved for war, but we also work with the communities because we are a people’s army.
If you need the assistance of the army you can write to us or to provincial ministers because they chair the JOC meetings, said Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Her counterpart, Honourable Marian Chombo, shed light on central government’s displeasure with poor service delivery by some local authorities.
She added; We want you to know that the army has no budget or funds. We do not have funds for construction projects. Devolution funds are available for such. We have all the expertise, bricklayers, etc.
Service delivery by councils is at its worst. We are equally concerned as central government. We sat down with local authorities and discussed what is causing the poor service delivery in areas of garbage collection, water and sanitation.
She said some of the challenges faced by urban local authorities were a result of rural to urban migration, which saw cities and towns being overwhelmed by a growing population.
With the changes in our monetary system, councils failed to service and buy water pipes and purification chemicals. Servicing of machinery was not being done as equipment was just being used until it broke down. Devolution funds meant for buying machinery were used for other purposes.
She also urged citizens to pay for services to enable municipalities deliver on their mandate.
As consumers, we are also not paying for services. Most local authorities are collecting as little as 13 per cent of their targeted revenue.
Cde Chombo said central government’s supervision mechanism has however been enhanced to ensure basic service delivery is improved.
You should notice a difference in the near future. Change is coming especially to larger municipalities such as Harare and Bulawayo, she pledged.
Senate President General (Rtd) Mike Nyambuya commended the two for attending Senate sessions at a time most ministers were conspicuous by their absence, with only two having tendered their formal excuses.