Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Medal parades for veterans cost R46 million

altThree medal parades last year for MK veterans, where 540 old soldiers were honoured for their service, cost the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) R46 million.

This indicates the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) spent an average of R85 000 on each military veteran who received a medal from President Jacob Zuma, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), said Shahid Esau, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party deputy shadow defence and military veterans minister.

The parades were held on August 2 at AFB Bloemspruit, October 27 at AFB Waterkloof and December 6, also at AFB Waterkloof.

Esau said while no funds were allocated to the DMV for “real benefits” such as healthcare, housing and burial support, the department “had somehow” managed to allocate R46 million to the parades, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC.

“While it is important to honour military veterans this is not the best way to allocate a limited budget especially when so many veterans are in desperate need.”

Esau maintains the money spent on the parades and medals could have provided at least 380 houses for veterans. To date the DMV has handed two houses to World War ll veterans in North West.

“The DMV must get its priorities straight and begin providing real benefits to needy military veterans and their dependents,” he said adding the parade-spend was “a complete abuse of public funds”.

“It should never have been used to effectively subsidise MK’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The funding that is available for military veterans must be spent on veterans who are most in need of assistance.”

The DMV said earlier this month it has an allocation of R300 million to spend on benefits for veterans in the current financial year. Apart from healthcare, housing and burial insurance, these include military pensions, free and/or subsidised access to public transport, education support, assistance with jobs, counselling, entrepreneurial support as well as veterans’ memorials.

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