The Gauteng Provincial government has stepped up its strategy to deal with Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans (MKMVA) by hosting a series of frank and honest conversations between the MKMVA and government.
Addressing the gathering in Vereeniging, MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) believes the sector engagement will help address the plight of the MKMVA as most live below the poverty line, which is a shame especially since most of them helped to free South Africa.
“Economic opportunities were being opened by GPG’s growth strategy, the Transformation, Modernisation and Reindustrialisation (TMR). All South Africans must be able to contribute to and benefit from the economy. Government must however ensure that military veterans who fought for this country are not trapped in poverty. It is sad that many of those who fought for this country are living below the poverty line,” said Nkosi Malobane.
The province has 7 000 military veterans, verified by the National Department of Military Veterans thereby making it an important sector of society.
The MEC told the MKMVA that she was sent by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to monitor the delivery of services to former combatants by departments and municipalities.
“I am here to ensure that all their complaints are addressed. I am here to open up a dialogue which will find permanent solutions and resolve challenges that the veterans go through daily such as the lack of employment opportunities, reintegration, psycho social services, lack of housing, and their rights are not recognised because some of them are not on the database.
Commander Machel, a former MK operative, said he never expected to be renting a one-bedroom outbuilding in squalid conditions after spending 13 years in exile.
“I’ve been waiting for the house since around 2011 as I don’t qualify for a bond. My observation is that the money for the houses is there, but individuals want a piece of the pie. I had hoped that when we attained democracy, people’s lives - including mine - would have been better.
“To think that I have spent all those years for this pains me very much because it’s not as if the government is not introducing programmes. It is individuals who delay these programmes because they want a share,” said Machel.
He lives with his wife in a backroom in Sebokeng, while his two children and three grandchildren live in another part of the township.