Military veterans complain they have been sidelined

President Cyril Ramaphosa in dialogue with women across the country on pertinent issues that affect women and their role and contribution to the economy, 29 October 2019, in Johannesburg. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The group wants to march to get Ramaphosa’s attention in their fight to access military pensions.

A group of liberation movements’ former combatants’ failed attempts to secure a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise their plight has soured relations with the country’s highest office.

The Tshwane metro refused to grant the group permission, in a letter on November 15, to march to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum.

According to Concerned Military Veterans (CMV) spokesperson Mangaliso Petse, the group comprised former members of Umkhonto weSizwe, the Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army and Azanian National Liberation Army who want to stage a march in the hope of being “heard by the president”.

Poverty-stricken and claiming to be “on the fringes and marginalised” by the post-democracy ANC-led government, Petse said yesterday that although they had sent letters to Ramaphosa, no government official had assisted them to access military pensions, housing, vocational training or support for the exhumation of fellow cadres who had died in exile.

“Despite having made sacrifices by contributing to the liberation of this country, we now often have to go begging to the Gift of the Givers and to Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) for food parcels.

“We are not being treated in the manner a government should treat its military veterans,” said Petse.

Among other demands, the former military veterans want:

  • A procedurally fair integration of all qualifying military veterans into the SA National Defence Force and other state departments.
  • Accelerated implementation of service delivery in terms of the Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011 with all the listed 11 benefits, including database verifications and listing of all qualifying military veterans’ beneficiaries without fear, favour and or prejudice.
  • Linking military veterans to business opportunities to access their designated 7.5% stake from the 30% to alleviate poverty and eradicate the dependency syndrome.
  • An overhaul of the department of defence and military veterans’ affairs senior management staff and the institution of an independent and impartial board of inquiry to determine their fitness to hold public office. They also called for a thorough investigation into alleged rampant mismanagement, abuse of authority, unaccountability, fraud and corruption.
  • Access to medical treatment facilities situated near all members.
  • The review of presidential pardon applications for all qualifying military veterans. The CMV would consult with civil society to get legal advice on how to challenge the refusal of their request to march.

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