Carl Niehaus Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
Carl Niehaus Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

MKMVA raises concern about events of St George’s Hotel

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Oct 16, 2021

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Joburg – The MKMVA has expressed concern about the events that played itself out last Thursday at the St George’s Hotel and Conference Centre.

A total of 56 suspects including seven women were arrested for kidnapping.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise and her deputy Thabang Makwetla alongside Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were held hostage before the specialised unit of the police intervened.

It emerged that talks between the Presidential Task Team and the ex-combatants broke down and the parties could not reach an agreement.

Carl Niehaus, national spokesperson of MKMVA, said it was their understanding that a meeting was arranged between the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) and Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as chairperson of the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans, to address the concerns of military veterans.

This followed LSWV members occupying Luthuli House in the course of the past week in order to highlight the plight and concerns of military veterans, especially those of the former liberation movements.

Niehaus said some members of MKMVA were part of the LSWV, although MKMVA was not formally involved as an organisation.

“The concerns that lead to these protest actions relate to the manner in which our government failed to address the needs and concerns of military veterans.

“Recently the Presidential Task Team, under the chairperson, Mabuza, engaged with military veterans in an unfortunate manner that exacerbated the divisions among military veterans.

“The insistence on undermining and disbanding our legitimate structures with specific reference to MKMVA, and also the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) is most unfortunate and unacceptable.

“As a consequence military veterans are feeling despondent and leaderless.

“This created a dangerous vacuum.

“While legitimate structures are undermined through attempted disbanding, splinter groupings are entertained by the Presidential Task Team in a cynical attempt of divide and rule, and to play military veterans off against each other,” Niehaus said.

He said the manner in which this was done, and the promises that were not kept, deepen the sense of disregard, frustration and neglect from military veterans.

“MKMVA warned in several statements about the dangers of these developments.

“Our genuinely held concerns are now confirmed by what happened.

“Our government is reaping the bitter fruits of what they have sowed.

“It is of critical importance that the MK unitary conference must be held immediately after the local government elections on November 1.

“We need a representative structure with the legitimacy of MKMVA to represent all MK veterans.

“It is understandable that the LSWV members were unhappy and frustrated when Mabuza did not honour the agreed on meeting, and other members of the national executive were sent to substitute him.

“It was reasonable of them to have refused to engage with these substitutes, because Mabuza is the directly designated person with the duty to address the concerns of military veterans,” Niehaus said.

He said instead of having responded with excessive force, government should have shown appreciation for the deep frustrations of military veterans, and acknowledged its own failure to have addressed these concerns over a totally unacceptable long period it time.

“MKMVA calls on the government to immediately release all the military veterans that have been arrested, and instead of being overly defensive and aggressive, to respectfully engage with all military veterans.

“Our government will do well to address the concerns of military veterans as a matter of urgency.

“Such a process must start by showing genuine contrition that the government failed for far too long to take adequate care of military veterans, recognise and respect our legitimate structures, and take our genuine concerns seriously,” he said.

Political Bureau

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