ANC uMkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) have decried that they are being left out from the cookie jar.
The veterans having full knowledge of the widespread corruption in government and a drastic change in the lifestyle of former comrades – once in the same trenches with them – was at the core of a standoff yesterday between uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and the KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership, according to political analyst Lukhona Mnguni.
Mnguni questioned the military veterans’ insistence on preferential treatment, while the Institute for Security Studies has warned that the ANC-led government needs to intervene urgently.
Mguni was commenting on the Durban incident that saw a group of military veterans – impatient with what they said was a slow pace on issues they had raised months back with KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli – singing and staging a protest outside the party offices.
“This represents an indictment of how those in government have conducted themselves,” said Mnguni. “The military veterans can see those in the state living a good lifestyle while many who contributed to the struggle for a liberated South Africa are poor and struggling. Just like their comrades, they also want to be part of the eating.”
Mnguni said there was nothing sinister in the military veterans having organised themselves into an association because that was similar to “former university students forming an alumnus group or a social group”, adding that “this is not a paramilitary group because uMkhonto weSizwe was disbanded years ago and the military association is not a constitutional structure of the ANC. Where there is a problem is when the veterans are used as proxies in fighting factional battles within the party.
“The other problem is how this military structure displays a sense of entitlement, demanding privileges which are above those of ordinary South African citizens in such areas as preferential procurement and jobs.”
While KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu downplayed reports that the group had stormed the ANC offices, MK veterans in KwaZulu-Natal have a history of invading government buildings to demand jobs and tenders.
Simelane-Zulu said: “Comrades from the MKMVA at eThekwini region had challenges and months back met the provincial secretary to discuss their issues.
“They wanted an opportunity to meet the provincial secretary who was not present at the time. They ended up singing outside the offices until the secretary and regional secretary Bheki Ntuli arrived to engage them on issues.”
The spokesperson could not disclose what issues the military veterans had with the ANC provincial leadership.
In July last year, the group took over the uMgungundlovu District Municipality building in Pietermaritzburg, threatening to unleash violence if they were not given jobs and tenders.
In August, they took control of Richmond and Umvoti municipalities, demanding jobs, tenders and houses, before shutting down the Msunduzi Municipality.
The latest face-off comes as ANC national leadership is criss-crossing the province, campaigning ahead of the January 8 Statement and election manifesto launch.