More ex-liberation army servicemen have come out to voice their plight regarding their welfare since their return from exile in the early 90s.
Following a widely circulated online story by newsmen on Sunday, where disgruntled members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veteran Association (MKMVA) met in Durban and resolved to stage a hunger strike at the Union Buildings to get an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Azanian National Liberation Army military veterans (Azanla MV) grouping has spoken out as well.
The MKMVA members, who met on Saturday, among other issues, want to know what happened to financial benefits they were supposed to get to help them to resettle upon return from exile.
Azanla MV spokesperson Percy Phake said their 10 000 members are facing hardship and since the call for a commission of inquiry to Ramaphosa touches on their issues as well, they support the call and will join their MKMVA, MK Council and APLA (Azanian People Liberation Army) counterparts
“We support the bold move by our MK (MVA) counterparts because these issues of military veterans being neglected are affecting all of us. We are not getting any benefits which should include healthcare, housing and skills development,” Phake said.
Azanla MV is an association of ex-combatants that were affiliated to Azapo and the Black Conscious Movement. They were mainly trained in Botswana, Libya and China.
Phake said what was worrying to them was that most of their members were dying in poverty without getting their benefits.
“Even those of us who are getting some of the benefits due to military veterans, it’s a struggle because they sometimes get cut without any explanation and they have to run around trying to get them restored,” Phake alleged.
Speaking to Independent Media on Sunday about the plight of military veterans, Carl Niehus, the spokesperson of the MKMVA, also blamed the department for the challenges. He said it was even keeping “incorrect” information about military veterans.
Furthermore, Phake said by Monday some of their members whose kids are supposed to have their school fees paid by the Department of Military Veterans have not been paid.
“Several schools in Gauteng and across the country have written to military veterans to alert them that they have not received any money from the Department of Education. They are even handing over the matters of these schools to their lawyers to force them to pay,” he alleged.
Although the spokesperson of the department, Phumeza Dzuguda, was yet to respond to these allegations, in January this year the department acknowledged that it was having problems with paying school fees for military veterans’ kids.
In the statement, the department said it has noted that there are still outstanding invoices and some payments for both tertiary and basic education.
“These are being processed as a matter of urgency, wherein some officials are visiting schools in all nine provinces to accelerate the process.
’’Support for finalisation of payment of all outstanding fees has been sought from some provincial departments, wherein a request for transfer of school fees to provinces is in progress,” reads part of the statement.