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Military vets to intensify fight with government after Ramaphosa, Mabuza 'snub'

10 November 2021 - 16:51
Some of the war veterans in court after their arrest. File photo.
Some of the war veterans in court after their arrest. File photo.
Image: Jacques Nelles/Pool Feed/The Citizen

Liberation struggle war veterans are accusing the government of negotiating in bad faith and have warned that their plight is a ticking time bomb.  

Deputy president David Mabuza allegedly snubbed two of their scheduled meetings, which sought to discuss and find common ground on reparations. The group later demanded a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa but to no avail.   

“The reason we wanted to meet Ramaphosa is because he committed to addressing the plight of liberation struggle war veterans across the country. He told us that if we are not getting any joy, we should return to him,” said Mduduzi Holomisa on Wednesday.   

The group said Ramaphosa, instead of delegating Mabuza, sent two cabinet ministers, defence and military veterans minister Thandi Modise and minister in the presidency  Mondli Gungubele, who were “clueless about our issues”. 

The said meeting bore no fruit, was delayed by hours and the venues changed with no explanations, according to the veterans. The group believed it was a “trap”. Reports later surfaced that the group held the ministers hostage, demanding to see the president. 

Addressing members of the media in Johannesburg on Wednesday, they denied this.

“The liberation struggle war veterans put clear to the government delegation that without the presence of the president and his deputy, we would not continue with the meeting and would wait for them to attend,” said Holomisa.

“We noticed very late that this was a trap and that the deputy president was not coming. This trap, led by minister Gungubele, led to the arrest of more than 50 of our comrades and about 17 sustained injuries. Some of these injuries happened in detention. This victimisation should have consequences and we are consulting legal representatives.”   

The group comprises former soldiers from the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), the Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla) and the Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla). They are now threatening to mobilise and intensify action against the government until their demands are met. 

“The liberation struggle war veterans are not going to keep quiet about this and we will fight and ensure the redress of these wrongs is expedited. All our members will ensure that maximum efforts are made in ensuring that our dignity is reclaimed.

“We are going to mobilise the dependents of the fallen veterans, civic movements, progressive NGOs locally and other like-minded organisations outside South Africa. We shall not be moved.”

Another member of the group, Lwazi Mzobe, echoed similar sentiments, adding that the lack of government commitment felt as though they had committed a heinous crime while protecting the country during the apartheid era. 

“This is painful, it is as if we are being punished for having fought apartheid. It is more painful because we are engaging with people who are not honest. Right now, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb.” 

Among other demands, the veterans want lump sum payments, jobs at state-owned entities, free houses and medical aid that accommodates their dependents. 

“We are poor, we live in shacks, under bridges, in very inhumane conditions,” added Mzobe.