Veterans’ ceremony ‘not a measure to smooth over relations with ANC’

2012-08-02 15:19

The provincial chairperson of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKVA) in the Free State has denied that the first medal ceremony for veterans took place in Bloemfontein to smooth over relations with the provincial ANC.

Gregory Nthatisi said the event took place in the Free State capital because it is the birthplace of the ANC.

“The MKVA respects and supports the offices of the ANC,” he said.

Nthatisi said if members of the association had problems with individuals then they would fight that battle in the structures of the party.

“If the president is here to unite the ANC in the Free State then we would welcome that because unity in the party is part of his brief,” he said.

Nthatisi was tipped by one of the factions in the Free State ANC – The Regime Change Group – to be deputy chairperson in the province.

This group opposes the leadership of Free State premier Ace Magashule.

President Jacob Zuma awarded military veterans medals to former members of Umkhonto weSizwe in Bloemfontein.

Today’s was the first ceremony in a series planned by the department of military veterans.

Zuma said veterans should “inspire those who serve in the democratic defence force today, knowing they are walking in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani and many soldiers of the struggle for liberation”.

He said South Africans had to remind themselves not to take their freedom for granted because there were people who had died for it.

Denis Goldberg, who was sentenced along with former president Nelson Mandela and others to life imprisonment during the Rivonia treason trial, received a Platinum Class II medal.

The medal is awarded to leaders for strategic leadership, death-defying spirit under perilous conditions and resilience and love for their country in the struggle for liberation.

Two categories of medals were awarded to veterans present at the event or to representatives of their families.

Platinum Class I medals were awarded to the founders of MK, including Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, and Mandela.

Class II medals were given to 12 members of the national high command of MK and those who served life sentences, like Goldberg.

Class III medals were awarded to 40 MK members who were in the first regional command structures of the former military wing.

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