Kebby 'twisted arms' to get R8m for MK 'veterans' conference

18 June 2017 - 00:45 By THABO MOKONE and BABALO NDENZE

Deputy Minister of Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe is said to have strong-armed his director-general into forking out almost R8-million to fund a conference of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association.
The Sunday Times has seen a letter from Maphatsoe to director-general Max Ozinsky "urgently" seeking money for the event.
About R7.8-million of taxpayers' money was allocated to the conference last weekend, when Maphatsoe was elected president of the association.
Ozinsky had objected to funding the event, saying the credentials of more than half of the 1,200 delegates could not be verified.Sources said a verification process conducted by the department revealed that 637 delegates could not be traced in the department's database and were not bona fide military veterans.
Department insiders said other delegates were current members of the South African National Defence Force with no verifiable links to Umkhonto weSizwe.
"In terms of the Military Veterans Act, you can't be classified as a veteran if you're still in service," said a source in Maphatsoe's department.
Insiders argued that it was inappropriate for the deputy minister to directly request his director-general to release funds to a political structure that he led, and doing so amounted to applying undue pressure.
"Such requests are normally done by the SA National Military Veterans' Association, not directly by the MK Military Veterans' Association," said one source.
Another said the money was used to pay for accommodation, food and transport for delegates who attended the four-day conference at the Birchwood and other hotels in the Boksburg area.
The event was snubbed by some prominent military veterans such as former South African National Defence Force chief General Siphiwe Nyanda.
Maphatsoe denied pressuring Ozinsky to fund the conference.
"It is not true ... I don't have executive powers to do that," he said. But he accused Ozinsky of unleashing government spooks to spy on his delegates.
"It was at the Birchwood Conference Centre. There was a meeting there and the DG introduced the State Security Agency people and we asked them what do they want here because it's not a government event, it's an MK Military Veterans' Association event," said Maphatsoe.
The state security officers said they had come to do registration and accreditation.
"We said, 'No, it can't happen. The ANC has already paid R200,000 to people doing accreditation. Why do you bring state security here? A state institution cannot come.'"
Ozinsky said he requested State Security officials to verify the credentials of MKMVA delegates because he wanted to ensure that "money is spent in terms of regulations" and to prevent irregular expenditure.
He said it was standard practice for his department to support the activities of military veterans, but such requests normally came through the South African National Military Veterans' Association.
Ozinsky said he was conducting "due diligence" to verify the credentials of delegates...

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