A group of military veterans who marched and terrorised foreign traders in Durban have demanded that the government pay them a one-off gratuity to the tune of R250,000 each for their role in the struggle against apartheid.
The demand was made during a meeting with Deputy President David Mabuza in Pretoria on Wednesday.
The grouping, which comprises former soldiers from the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla), also demanded jobs at state-owned entities, free houses and medical aid that accommodates their dependants.
Lwazi Mzobe, a spokesperson for the group, said thousands of former soldiers stand to benefit from the payment should the government accede to their demands.
He did not want to confirm the R250,000 figure.
Celebgossip has learnt that the soldiers have decided that is how much they each deserve for fighting for freedom.
The group’s memorandum reads: “We demand the once-off gratuity payment for all liberation war veterans from MKMVA, Apla, Azanla, accordingly they were supposed to get [a] once-off payment, gratuity payment and other benefits that were to enable them to integrate properly with the society, unfortunately that never happened. As a result our fellow combatants across all formations are subjected to bad conditions, the gratuity payment can restore our dignity and give a base from which we can start or normalise our lives.”
Mzobe said they had felt “ignored” for the past 26 years and therefore approached President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The president delegated this work to DD Mabuza, he is the one who met with us. We have no houses, our medical aid doesn’t cover our families, we have no income. The president said he knows our pain,” said Mzobe.
Mabuza’s office confirmed that the deputy president is heading a team that is looking into the grievances but did not comment further.
“The high-level team appointed by the president to engage with military veterans associations is still in the process of engagements and once its work is complete, it will report to the president,” said Mabuza’s spokesperson, Matshepo Seedat.
This week MKMVA members teamed up with truck drivers in Durban to make their grievances known, including targeting foreigner-owned shops and stalls and demanding their immediate closure.
The veterans also want decent housing, land allocation, a special pension that has no age restriction, economic and social integration and jobs in the public service as well as in “state-owned enterprises like Eskom, Prasa, SA Airways, Transnet. We also demand business and empowerment opportunities in line with the Military Veterans Act”.
They also want Ramaphosa to pardon all deserving liberation struggle veterans.
The formation is asking the government to institute a special commission of inquiry that will investigate the conditions of all former soldiers.
“Azanla fighters were not integrated — it is sad and deplorable that our government is still not willing to do the honourable thing and recognise them as our fellow struggle veterans,” said Mzobe.
Mzobe said the group has waited more than two decades and has run out of patience. They are, he said, not willing to compromise.
“We demand what belongs to us. Liberation struggle veterans were and are still prepared to sacrifice their lives for the greater good,” he said.