Ex-combatants threaten to take Ramaphosa to court

Military veterans who have been waiting for government compensation have threatened to take civil action against President Cyril Ramaphosa

A legal letter drafted by Phosa Loot Attorneys on behalf of the ex-combatants also seeks to interdict payments scheduled for April, on the argument that they will not benefit their clients and merely represent a unilateral and unfavourable attempt at resolving the dispute.

“Our clients who continue to suffer have become immensely frustrated in awaiting a mutually beneficial and agreed solution with the government since 1994. It is in this light that our clients argue that the freedom they physically fought for benefits people other than themselves and as such the withholding of our benefits is unjust and unfair,” the letter says.

Phosa Loot Attorneys are representing members of the ruling ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and the Azanian National Liberation Army. 

The government has long been at odds with ex-combatants who have expressed frustration over their treatment, resulting in protests at the ANC headquarters and the Union Buildings, which house Ramaphosa’s offices.

Ramaphosa established a presidential task team headed by his deputy, David Mabuza, after military veterans complained that the department of defence and military veterans had failed to meet the government’s commitments. 

Responding to questions in parliament, Ramaphosa said that the department was repositioning its skills development and empowerment programme to ensure that military veterans participated in all government programmes that could create jobs as well as business and entrepreneurship opportunities. He added that the department is forming partnerships with sector education and training authorities and other state organs to assist with skills development programmes, Timeslive reported.

Lawyers at Phosa Loot Attorneys, however, say that their clients have written to the president on several occasions after forming a special committee – the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV), consisting of high-ranking members – to ensure a swift resolution.

In February, members of the LSWV marched to the Union Buildings armed with a memorandum of demands, but said the office of the president failed to acknowledge receipt.

The letter also states that the ex-combatants wrote to Ramaphosa calling for the  presidential task team to work on the balance of mechanisation to conclude payments. 

“Otherwise whatever will be settled on the 1st of April will be flawed in that it will not have included the necessary inputs and insights of the veterans it claims to help,” it says.

“At present the president is unilaterally making an undertaking of a timeline for the resolution in payment of reparations and benefits to veterans. To date our firm has not received any replies or correspondence from the president detailing the plan of action and manner of roll-out.

“The rapidly approaching deadline at which unknown and undetermined payouts will supposedly be made by instruction of the president to veterans has created a situation where our clients cannot accept the president’s proposal,” the letter adds.

Veterans have in the past called for at least R4-million in compensation for each member, as well as pensions, education funds, employment and housing. 
Last year, military veterans belonging to the LSWV held Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla, as well as Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele hostage when the group met in Pretoria to discuss their grievances.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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