Venue: Birchwood Conference Center
Members of Parliament,
The DG for Military Veterans, Mr Tsepe Motumi and our DDGs
The President of SANMVA and the newly elected National Executive,
Distinguished Leaders of SANMVA’s affiliated Members Associations here present,
The broad management of the DMV and officials from the Ministry. Senior Military Veterans in attendance at this conference.
Our invited guests from different stakeholder,
Military Veterans, delegates to this conference. Members of the Media,
Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,
I rise with a profound sense of appreciation of the achievement attained by all of us, the broad community of Military Veterans in South Africa in all its formations; the leadership of SANMVA; the new Department of Military Veterans and the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans as we come to the end of the business of launching a reconstituted umbrella body of our Military Veterans in line with the popular Military Veterans Act of 2011, (Act no 18, of 2011).
At the outset I must pay tribute on behalf of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, who is away in Senegal on state duties, to the founding leadership of SANMVA which became the trailblazers of the unity we today celebrate with the launch of this reconstituted umbrella body. This signifies a new historic milestone in constituting South Africa’s Military Veterans community into an organised, united and respected segment of democratic South Africa’s non-racial society.
We have come a long way in the endeavour to restore honour to those who have answered the call to serve, and those who did not come back home during the difficult days of our country’s history. From the days of the Ministerial Task Team established after the 2009 elections to advise the Minister on the needs of Military Veterans and how to address them, to the piloting of the new legislation and the cleaning and verification of the data base of beneficiaries, the SANMVA leadership on duty, in particular the former President Cde Kebby Maphotsoe and his two Deputy Presidents, Gen Fihla and Col Giles performed a sterling job in doggedly fighting and advocating for Military Veterans needs in a manner worthy for our appreciation today.
Their partisan and uncompromising stance on every issue, even as it was not quite clear where they were drawing their mandate from, was characteristic of soldiers when fighting behind enemy lines with their supply lines cut-off. Objective and subjective weaknesses notwithstanding, SANMVA played a crucial and significant role in shaping the architecture of our present and future support to Military Veterans in South Africa.
To the newly elected Executive of SANMVA, again on behalf of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, I wish to congratulate you for availing yourselves to take this work forward and for the confidence your colleagues have in you. The Ministry and the Department of Military Veterans are happy and excited to continue their mission assisted and collaborating with an even bigger and stronger team which the new umbrella body represent.
As you take positions today, you know that time is of essence. We have a myriad of challenges but with your organisational and leadership talents, we will overcome. When at times the incline gets too steep to bear, remember that the baton you took is still that of trail-blazers. Be aware that your mission as leadership is indeed a enormous. You are going to lay the foundation which this establishment must stand on forever after. Be conscious that in what you do, your omissions and commissions, you will at the same time be building a culture of this new body.
I trust that the fact that this umbrella body will be resourced by the state, and also participate in fund raising will not lull the awareness amongst us that at the end of the day the reason, and the only reason for its existence is because it must be to Military Veterans what Trade Unions are to workers, such that if all its revenue streams were to dry up, Military Veterans will keep it running out of their own dues in order to preserve this service. Things being equal, the same principle I believe, applies the same way to the Affiliate Member Associations of our member body. Many Veterans are detached from main stream activities in many ways. We need to work hard, all of us, to reach them, service them and give them hope. Therein lies the glory of mission of our Military Veterans Associations in conjunction with the Department of Military Veterans.
DG Motumi, our newly elected National Executive of SANMVA, distinguished leaders of our member associations and the management of the DMV, allow me on your own behalf to commend all delegates to this conference for the discipline and decorum with which they have conducted the proceedings of this conference. It was