South African military veterans associations can learn from former combatants in Angola as well as measures taken by government there to support that constituency, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla said near Luanda, in Angola at the weekend.
He was speaking after a visit of a 2500 hectare farm owned by former soldiers in the Caxito municipality, some 45km east of the Angolan capital of Luanda. The ministerial task team on military veterans, headed by Makwetla, has just concluded the last leg of its international benchmark study by paying a week long visit to the Angolan ministry of former combatants and military veterans. The task team previously undertook similar visits to the United States of America and Algeria, Makwetla’s office says in a statement.
The visit followed soon after a highly successful visit by the South African President, Jacob Zuma, who met his Angolan counterpart, President Jose Dos Santos, as part of efforts to strengthen working relations between the two states.
Angolan liberation forces waged a protracted armed struggle from 1961 until its independence in 1975. The country became engulfed in a civil war post its independence till the attainment of peace in 1992. “The country has a population of more than 75 000 military veterans who mainly rely on the state for social and economic support. Out of this, 68 900 combatants who participated in the war against colonial Portuguese settlers from 1961 to 1975 are currently enlisted and receiving life long pensions,” Makwetla’s office adds.
The delegation arrived in Luanda last on Tuesday and was received by the Deputy Minister of former combatants and veterans, Dr. Clemente Conjuca and the Acting Ambassador of South Africa, Siza Ncwana. In its schedule, the delegation met the Angolan Minister of Defence Mr. Candido Pereira dos Santos, veterans associations from MPLA, FLA and UNITA and other senior government officials. The visit was concluded on Saturday.
Following President Jacob Zuma reconfiguration of the defence ministry to include and military veterans, Defence and Military Veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu appointed a task team to develop a draft policy framework and guidelines on how the new administration can support former soldiers, particularly members of South Africa’s liberation forces.
The task team submitted its final draft to Minister Sisulu in December last year and Cabinet is expected to deliberate and take a final decision on the recommended policy for Military Veterans this year. A new Department of Military Veterans was proclaimed in December and Tsepe Motumi was appointed Director General last month.
The task team’s report argues for the states’ support for military veterans, including training and education opportunities, recognition and honour, exhumation, compensation, health care and housing.