Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda says government has formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee under cabinet office to come up with a criteria and methodology of how to classify freedom fighters.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the ministry’s Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe, Banda said this when he addressed Freedom Fighters Association (FFA) patron Sikota Wina and Database Committee chairperson Yotam Chikamba at his office in Lusaka.

Kalembwe stated that Banda said his ministry would partner with the Freedom Fighters’ Association to actualise an authentic database for all freedom fighters in the country.

He added that his ministry through the National Heritage Commission and National Museums Board would play a critical role in the process.

“Government is aware that there are a lot of ‘jolly-riders’ who would want to ride on the back of other people even when they were not there. The Ministry of Tourism and Arts will follow President Edgar Lungu’s guidance to come up with a database and find ways to help men and women who fought for Zambia’s independence. There has been an Inter-Ministerial Committee which has been formed under cabinet office to come up with a definition of a former freedom fighter, the criteria on how to classify them and the methodology of how to go around it,” Kalembwe quoted the minister as saying.

Kalembwe added that the National Heritage Commission and National Museums Board had qualified historians who would help to facilitate the process.

And Chikamba said the committee needed about K20 million in order to conduct the survey countrywide to have a valid database which would enable government to “at least give something to former freedom fighters”.

He said without the heroes, Zambia would not have the peace enjoyed in the past 54 years.

Wina said the organisation had sent messages to all former freedom fighters across the country, urging them to be patient as the database was being established.

“The association has waited for this empowerment for the past 54 years and there was no responsible government that could dish out money without establishing the truth and database. We have since called on members to re-activate their provincial and district executive committee so that when the time comes, they are able to provide information to numerators visiting their areas for information,” said Wina.