Azanla war vets ‘sidelined in allocation of houses’

As government channels more funds towards programmes to benefit liberation war veterans in what is seen as an attempt to avert a fallout with them, a squabble over resources has erupted among the former soldiers.

In Pietermaritzburg, war veterans aligned to Azapo’s Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla) have accused the ANC’s Mkhonto weSizwe (MK) ex-combatants of hijacking housing and employment programmes meant to benefit all war veterans in the region.

“When we started engaging the government we were part of a committee of joint forces that included members from Mkhonto, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and us as Azanla,” said Babo Mndaweni, the leader of the group.

However, as government began to roll out programmes to benefit the war veterans, Azanla and other formations found themselves sidelined.

“Decision-making powers were given to a single individual — the implementing agent who happens to be an MK person. For example, here in Glenwood [near Eastwood] where government is currently building 19 houses for war vets, Azanla was only allocated two, with the rest going to MK members,” he said.

War veterans in the Moses Mabhida region have in recent months been putting pressure on government to provide them with houses and jobs.

It has since emerged that the Msunduzi Municipality, whose offices were recently invaded by MK veterans demanding jobs and tenders, has so far made available more than 300 sites for the war vets housing programme.

However, Mndaweni is concerned the programme was already marred by corruption. “For example here in Glenwood, building, which started as far back as October last year, has come to a standstill, with not a single house completed. In some sites, there is only a slab, with no explanation given for the lack of progress. This is despite the fact that government is said to have already released over R4 million for the project,” he said.

In Copesville, 20 houses are currently being built, while close to 400 will be built in Edendale.

“Our main concern is that there is no transparency at all when it comes to things such as the appointment of contractors and the allocation of houses to beneficiaries. Each time we attempt to raise concerns with either the municipality or the Human Settlement Department, we are referred to MK people for answers. This is despite the fact that we are also war veterans registered at the military department.”

While Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha confirmed they had made 395 sites available for the war veterans housing programme, she said the council was not the custodian of the programme. “It’s not the municipality’s project,” she said.

MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) Moses Mabhida regional secretary Menzi Mkhize insisted that Azanla members were part of the committee monitoring war vets government programmes in the region.

“Even when we meet government department officials they are always present. The reason we are being allocated more houses than other formations is because we are the majority. As for the implementing agent, he was appointed by government. We had no say in his appointment,” he said.