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'We are determined to do as much as we can to empower military veterans' – Ramaphosa tells Parliament

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'We are determined to do as much as we can to empower military veterans' – Ramaphosa tells Parliament

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

26th November 2021

By: News24Wire

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is in support of opening the door to a whole new dimension for the nation's war veterans, where it would be rewarded with "government procurement" skills, and entrepreneurship programmes.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa answered questions in the National Assembly and assured that he would resolve matters that affected military veterans.

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This comes in the wake of the October drama when some military veterans decided to hold two government ministers and a deputy hostage during a meeting in Pretoria.

Ramaphosa told MPs that the government needed to ensure that military veterans could enjoy the fruits of the freedoms that they helped to bring about.

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African National Congress MP Thabo Mmutle asked Ramaphosa whether the government would consider setting aside of its procurement plan to empower military veterans.

"We are determined to do as much as we can to empower our military veterans. We are obviously so keen that where the military veterans have the capability to take up procurement opportunities, they should be brought in and be able to participate in that."

Ramaphosa said, "The important part is that they need to be empowered either through skills and entrepreneurship. They should have a sense that they are part of the economy. Where there are procurement opportunities, they should participate."

The war vets are accused of holding Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele; Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Thandi Modise and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, hostage. The incident happened during a chaotic meeting at the St George's Hotel in Pretoria on 14 October. Two bodyguards were allegedly also held hostage by the group.

In total, 53 war vets were charged in connection with the hostage incident.

The group of veterans, who met with the government, was demanding millions in reparations for their role in the anti-apartheid struggle.

Ramaphosa said there had been progress in reviewing the Military Veterans Act.

"The Department of Military Veterans will be restructured after the Act is amended. Costing is underway for the pension policy. It will require a common approach to all departments. We need to ensure. We ought to give them consideration as well as the respect as much as we possibly can," he said.

Provincial offices had been capacitated to assist military veterans.

"A moratorium on applications for education support has been lifted, and the Department of Military Veterans is now receiving and processing new applications," Ramaphosa said, adding that military veterans faced "many complex" challenges.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the events of October showed the danger of having quasi-military bodies.

In response, Ramaphosa said the identities of military veterans were being verified.

"Not everyone who claims to be a military veteran is one," he added.

The State was considering adding terrorism-related charges to the 53 military veterans accused of taking the ministers hostage.

The group included MKMVA members and former members of the Pan Africanist Congress' Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) and Azapo's Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla).

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