STATEMENT BY MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS

Department of Military Veterans refutes Kwa-Zulu Natal allegations published in the Sowetan on 16 November 2010

Date of release 16 November 2010

The Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans condemns the regrettable statement against assistance offered to destitute military veterans, issued by MKMVA in Kwa-Zulu Natal purportedly on behalf of MKMVA members in general.

We deem the remarks criticizing the distribution of food hampers campaign to destitute military veterans as unfortunate, misleading and grossly irresponsible.

The tone of the statement only seeks to perpetuate the hardships and sufferings of veterans who cannot help themselves and who value the difference that this modest gesture, sponsored by MTN, seeks to make for them and their dependants who received this assistance with appreciation and relief.

The level of enthusiasm and overwhelming response from affected veterans throughout the country has been humbling and encouraging; this includes last week’s function which we regard as being successful judging by the number of veterans who submitted their names for receiving the hampers.

It is also worth-noting that this initiative and appeal for this gesture emanated from within MK ranks and subsequently the department of military veterans engaged MTN to act as a sponsor and conscientious corporate citizen in the endeavour to be relevant to the many needs in our communities, in partnership with government.

The campaign is targeting a specific and limited group within the broader veterans’ constituency, namely, those who have no means to fend for themselves and condemned to wretched lives because of the hardships they face daily. The level of enthusiasm and the demand generated by this campaign in all provinces goes against the posturing espoused in the media statement. It is idle-talk and pranking by those with full stomachs to say “half a loaf” is worse than no bread at all.

The allegation that the food items are recycled is also devoid of truth and far fetched because all items are non-perishable and constitute dry rations procured by MTN from MAKRO wholesalers.

In essence, the nobility of the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and our democracy derives from the fact that they did not do it for themselves, and no one has the right to distort this virtue, as the KZN MKMVA individuals seek to do, to the embarrassment of all those who fought to free our country.

We therefore view the remarks and the tone of the media statement as bordering on ignorance and lack of interest with regard to the on-going developments and steps that the department of Military Veterans has taken in order to profile the challenges and possible solutions to deal with the plight of veterans.

In his address to the veterans in KZN last week, the Deputy Minister of Defence and military veterans, Thabang Makwetla, mentioned that government is on the verge of rolling out a comprehensive set of long term benefits and support to the veterans’ constituency pending an allocation by national treasury.

He highlighted that the 2010 Military Veterans bill, adopted by cabinet and to be processed by parliament, is heralding a new era demonstrating government’s commitment to address the plight of veterans.

The Department once again calls on all corporate enterprises with the means to assist government to meet the many needs of Military Veterans to come forward and be counted.

Ends.