Put our welfare on the agenda, MK veterans urge government

2010-12-13 00:00

VETERANS of the armed wing of the ANC, uMkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) appealed to the KwaZulu-Natal government to ensure that government departments offer programmes for the movement’s former combatants.

This appeal was made by KZN ­MKMVA chairperson Themba Mavundla during a ceremony at KwaMashu’s Princess Magogo Stadium outside Durban yesterday to mark the 49th anniversary of the founding of the movement.

Mavundla said that since the establishment of the ANC government, the welfare of former liberation movement combatants has not been a priority while the government focuses on service delivery.

“Our members are living under difficult circumstances while others are dying in poverty. This is the reason behind our call for our provincial government to prioritise the welfare of military veterans.

“The housing department started a housing project about two years ago, but that initiative has now stalled and we have appealed to them to start it again as housing is fundamental for the wellbeing of human beings.

“We are proposing that all government departments, including SASSA [the South African Social Securities Agency], play a role in rescuing military veterans from a life of poverty,” Mavundla said.

In a keynote address before Mavundla’s appeal, KZN Premier Zweli encouraged the MKMVA’s former combatants to establish a database detailing skills acquired by military veterans so that the government can accommodate them in its programmes.

“Despite difficulties they are facing, they must not lose hope and must desist from abusing drugs and getting involved in crime.

“We acknowledge that, since the integration process, a lot of them were not accommodated in the process while others left and others were demobilised.

“They are going through a lot of problems, including lack of housing and unemployment.

“Work is in progress to ensure their integration into society.

“Some, because of the nature of their combatant background, are struggling to cope with social life …” Mkhize said.

Mavundla said the database has been completed and the veterans are awaiting government action.

Mkhize said a “heritage unit” has been established in the Office of the Premier to facilitate the return of the remains of MK soldiers who died in neighbouring countries during the struggle against apartheid.

He said the return of the remains of ANC leaders Moses Mabhida and Johnny Mfanafuthi Makhathini is part of this broad programme.

The unit is currently involved in facilitating the return of fallen combatants who died during the South African Defence Force’s Amathola raid in Mozambique in the early 1980s.

While the KZN MKMVA celebrated its 49th anniversary yesterday, a national programme will commemorate the MK’s establishment on December 16, 1961, on Thursday.

The Tanzanian High Commissioner to South Africa, Radhia Msuya, also addressed yesterday’s event.

 

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