Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), will on Saturday bestow medals on military veterans who have distinguished themselves in various capacities prior to 1994 in the quest to see the dawn of democracy in SA.
The event, which will take place at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, will be conducted in the form of a medal parade, which aims to honour members of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), whose 50th anniversary is being celebrated this year.
The event has been timed to coincide with the birthday anniversary of the longest serving President of the ruling party, who also served as the longest commander of MK, Oliver R Tambo. He served as commander for 30 years.
More than 500 former members of MK Luthuli detachment – first generation of members who joined around 1961 and 1962 when MK was established – will receive medals in the category of platinum, gold and bronze for bravery, merit, campaigns and commemorative.
Significant strides have been made by the Department of Military Veterans, which is championed by Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, to reshape and address the plight of military veterans.
The Constitution of Republic of South Africa and new 2011 Military Veterans Act enjoin the Department of Military Veterans to execute, as part of its legislative mandate, to restore the dignity and memorialize the sacrifices of those who sacrificed their lives for the benefit of democracy and freedom in South Africa.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Makwetla and the top echelons of the SANDF are expected to attend the parade.