MK veterans: R5m not enough for anniversary

2011-12-10 17:21

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a tussle has ensued about government funding for the event.

The department of military veterans has pledged about R5 million to pay for accommodation and transport for platoons from each province. The big event is on Friday.

But the MK Military Veterans’ Association said the amount was not enough.

Ayanda Dlodlo, the secretary-general of the association, said today that the department was afraid to give out lots of money because it would be criticised by opposition parties like the DA.

“The department is only paying for the platoons, but it is not providing any funding.

The department would have every legal leg to stand on to fund the event,” she said.Dlodlo said the Constitution’s preamble said injustices of the past and those who had “suffered for justice” should be recognised.She also said this was permitted by law.

Dlodlo had to go cap in hand to businesses to get sponsorship for the event, and she said she was very relieved that Vodacom had agreed to sponsor the venue costs.The event is set to take place at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

She said the association wanted to cater for people across the racial divide and took this into consideration when they invited bands for the event.These are set to be confirmed on Monday.

Dlodlo said opposition parties like the DA had also been invited, but so far nobody from the DA said they would be attending.“

The DA has used the names of those who formerly belonged to the MK, like Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani and OR Tambo (who was a commander-in-chief) for their elections campaign, but they don’t want to recognise their history,” she said.

Deputy director-general for veterans’ empowerment and stakeholder relations, Nonkonzo Molai, confirmed that the department was supporting the event.Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu even mentioned it in her budget speech in Parliament earlier this year, Molai said.

“We are funding the transport, accommodation and meals of some of the participants.

We will be funding what is within our means,” said the minister.She said the funding was for about 700 participants, but this figure could change.

Molai added that this matter had been discussed with the association and the South African National Military Veterans Association, the umbrella body of military veterans.

DA spokesperson on defence, David Maynier, said the association was entitled to celebrate the anniversary, but not at taxpayers’ expense.“There is a constitutional imperative that the defence department be non-partisan and not favour any political party or armed formation associated with a political party,” he said.

Maynier said he would submit parliamentary questions on the matter, adding that he had received an invite to the event, but would not be attending.

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