South Africa, Johannesburg – The high-level panel on military veterans headed by Deputy President David Mabuza said this week that Cabinet ministers were assisting military veterans with a myriad of challenges they have brought to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s attention.
A group called the Liberation Struggle War Veterans earlier this month marched to the Union Buildings to hand over a list of demands to Ramaphosa asking his administration to assist former liberation Struggle combatants to be compensated for their sacrifices. Ramaphosa responded by constituting the panel to look into their demands and to provide answers.
The group consists of members of 11 military veterans’ associations which include members of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (APLAMVA) and Azanian National Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (AZANLAMVA) and their list of demands includes bettering their living conditions, employment, housing and medical care.
They have also demanded from the government the integration of former combatants into the country’s law enforcement agencies such as the SAPS, SANDF, Correctional Services, SA Secret Service, metro police and Border Management Agency.
The veterans demanded proper and tangible economic benefits that would transform their lives and their families while they also demanded decent houses.
Percy Phake, the spokesperson, said the employment in the Department of Military Veterans should prioritise the veterans.
“We demand employment in state-owned enterprises, such as SAA, Prasa, Eskom, and Transnet. We also demand business and empowerment opportunities in line with the Military Veterans Act.”
He added that they wanted the government to take responsibility for the repatriation of the remains of their comrades who died while in exile.
Mabuza said the integration process of soldiers from various liberation armies who were fit for service into the SANDF was time-bound and had been undertaken in terms of legislation that was followed at the time to assist the process of integration before being terminated after its time frame expired.
“It is therefore not possible to reopen this process now because integration is over but now there is a procedure that is open for everyone who wants to join the army.
“The army is now open for everyone who wants to join and you can then join, but the integration process has been closed and cannot be reopened,” Mabuza.
The deputy president said that in terms of economic integration and social integration the panel had consulted other ministers in government in order to be able to respond to those demands as a collective.
“We have spoken to the Minister of Small Business Development (Khumbudzo Ntshavheni) and she has committed to assisting military veterans who are ready to start their own businesses. Those of our military veterans who want to start their own businesses will be put in contact with the department so that they can be assisted,” Mabuza said.
He added that the Transport Ministry had also committed to provide jobs to military veterans by creating conditions in which security was needed so that opportunities could be created for military veterans to be gainfully employed.
“All government departments have been sensitised to prioritise the appointment of qualifying military veterans interfacing with the economic cluster. This is a cluster we are going to work with until all your challenges have been met,” said Mabuza.