Zimbabwe Congo Soldier Widow Demands US$26 000 From Army

A soldier lies dead in the DRC last year when fighting erupted again. Zimbabwe had since left and the United Nations had moved in peace keepers. But there are still some Zimbabwean skeletons in the DRC, those of soldiers who died there and were never recovered. Their widows have been denied the allowances due to those soldiers by the directive of the top brass of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. The Fingaz interviewed the woman who is making noise on behalf of others.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 27 November 2009

Any army widow whose husband went missing in action in the Democratic Republic of Congo during Zimbabwe's intervention in that country is demanding U$26 000 from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and has taken them to court.

It is basically a test case, designed to establish precedent, because the woman is not alone. There are many others who could not pitch in and launch a class action. This particular case will determine whether not they all get their dues.

Stunningly, the case, although originally put on the Supreme Court register, has now been struck off and it appears there is no explanation for this. Lawyers are working on reinstating the matter on the register.

Fransisca Marima says she has now approached the Supreme Court in Zimbabwe because the Army refuses to pay up. The money is allowances due to the soldier from the time of deployment in April 2009 to June 2004, when he was officially declared dead as per Zimbabwe's Missing Persons Act.

It is not clear why the army will not pay, because this refusal goes against even their own regulations.

The widow's lawyer, Raphael Tsivama, says in his head of arguments before the Supreme Court points out that the refusal by the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe to pay the widows the outstanding allowances of their dead husbands was a contravention of Statutory Instrument 172/1989 of the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe Regulations.

The Instrument expressly prohibits withholding payment for any reason except desertion, imprisonment and other crimes.

The blanket decision to ban payments for widows of soldiers who went missing during Zimbabwe's adventure in the DRC was apparently taken by the "Command Element" in the armed forces.

This means that it has essentially now become policy.

Hence the need for either a test case or a class action type of court application.

Zimbabwe basically saved Laurent Kabila's hide in the Democratic Republic of Congo when it sent 11 000 soldiers into that country as it was under siege from rebels. The Zimbabwe army proved itself on the battlefield and managed to stem the losses inflicted by the rebels, who also had backing from other countries in the region, including Uganda.

But that war was the genesis of Zimbabwe's decline, compounded by a litany of disastrous policies at home, which eventually led to the highest inflation in the world, 90% unemployment and every other ill you have read about Zimbabwe.

The war, at its height, cost Zimbabwe US$1 million a day and donors started refusing to fund the Zimbabwe government if it could afford to spend that much on a war far away, with no benefits apparent to Zimbabwe.

It is to be hoped that the families that lost fathers and brothers will get their dues soon.


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