SA pays tribute to Russia's anti-apartheid role

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pretoria - Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele paid tribute to Russia's military veterans for their contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

The ministers, who accompanied President Jacob Zuma on his state visit to Russia, met with executive members of the Russian Military Veterans League on Wednesday.

Apart from expressing gratitude to the veterans for the role they played in the apartheid struggle, the ministers also discussed possible partnerships with the League aimed at helping South African liberation struggle veterans enter the main economic sector.

"Our relationship with Russia and the veterans is very emotional. South Africa owes a great deal to the people of Russia for their freedom and I am happy that today we are working together to take that relationship to a higher level," Sisulu said.

The minister added that she had been among those who had spent a lot of time in Russia and thanked the veterans for welcoming South Africans as part of their families during the apartheid struggle.

Sisulu was convinced that military veterans in South Africa, who were still in the early stages of entering the economic sector, could learn a lot from their Russian counterparts.

"Officials from the newly established Department of Military Veterans will also benefit from learning how veterans can be supported and organised in order to play a role in the economy," she said.

The Vice President of the Russian Federal Veterans League, Vyacheslav Shiryaev, explained to the ministers the League's economic and social programme for the veterans.

He said that through proactive engagement with industries such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and military technology, a large percentage of veterans were employed and part of the mainstream economy.

Sisulu and Cwele also invited the Russian veterans to pay South Africa a visit later this year to share experiences with military veterans and government officials here.