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Deputy president Mabuza meets with military veterans in Durban, says they will get pensions

Deputy president Mabuza meets with military veterans in Durban, says they will get pensions

Durban – The KZN uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) has welcomed the announcement of a pension for liberation military veterans, but warned it may not be enough to tackle the deplorable conditions faced by Struggle soldiers.

Deputy President David Mabuza told veterans in Durban yesterday that the pension of R4 962 a month would be rolled out by December 1 and a budget had been granted by the National Treasury to the Department of Military Veterans for the next three years.

Military veterans have complained that since 1994, their demands for better living conditions, employment, housing and medical aid had largely been ignored.

Two years ago, the Liberation Struggle War Veterans staged a march to the Union Buildings and asked President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government to assist former liberation Struggle combatants to be compensated for their role and their sacrifices.

The group consisted of members of 11 military veterans’ associations, including the MKMVA, Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association and Azanian National Liberation Army Military Veterans Association

A month later, aggrieved members of MKMVA blockaded main routes into Durban to protest against what they believed was the government’s betrayal over their welfare since democracy.

They had called on Ramaphosa to establish a commission of inquiry to look at the welfare of liberation soldiers from all liberation parties.

The spokesperson of the disgruntled MKMVA group that had marched in Durban, Lwazi Mzobe, yesterday told Mabuza that veterans were restless as they felt they had genuine issues they had been raising since 1994 and these had been ignored.

“We don’t want government to keep making promises. We are seated in this house today because of issues that war veterans have raised. If we had not raised these issues, you would not be here today. The Presidential Task Team and the Department of Military Veterans have failed to unite us.”

Mzobe said veterans had experienced 26 years of suffering.

Mabuza told the more than 500 veterans that the country was enjoying the fruits of democracy, achieved through their stepping forward to fight the draconian apartheid regime.

“This is an opportunity for us to put in place measures to restore the dignity of our heroes and heroines, who sacrificed everything to ensure that all of us can enjoy the freedom that we have today.

“In the process, many of you lost opportunities to go to school and to seek gainful employment, and as a result, were left lagging behind in every aspect of life. You didn’t have an opportunity to start families.

“You were not paid a salary and as a result, didn’t have an opportunity to join medical aid schemes and to build-up pension reserves,” Mabuza said.

He said there was significant progress in addressing some military veterans’ challenges, including the approval of the Military Veterans’ Pension Policy and the department has made provision to ensure pensions are paid.

This will see R37 million available for the 2022/23 financial year, R102m the following year, R109m in 2024/25 and R115m in 2025/26.

He said other issues of progress included the provision of housing to veterans’ dependants via an amendment to the Military Veterans Act, improving the floor plan of purpose-built houses, and the execution of remedial work in a number of housing projects.

Earlier, eThekwini Municipality councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said it was the veterans’ selfless and revolutionary commitment that brought the freedom South Africans have today.

“The municipality is committed to address the plight of those at the forefront of the Struggle for freedom. We know despite those efforts there are gaps in what we are doing.”

Madlala said the municipality was planning a military veterans village mixed-use development near Inanda Dam and that a task team was focusing on different parts of the project.

“Most of the meetings to form MK between Madiba and Inkosi Albert Luthuli took place in this province and this led to Mandela being captured in Howick. There is no doubt the spirit of Mandela and Luthuli are with us today. Yet many veterans have died as paupers and some live today in poor health and general well-being,” he said.

Last month, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, speaking in Durban, said it was a travesty that after 28 years of democracy, the plight of war veterans was not being addressed.


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