Admin delays still impacting military veterans special pension pay-out

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In December “administrative delays” were cited as the reason why military veterans had not received pension pay-outs. Four months later it appears “process and procedure” is still underway with old soldiers left in the lurch.

That, in a nutshell, is what Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) parliamentarian Washington Mafanya was told by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise in an effort to establish the current state of play as regards the long-awaited pension made public in December. He wanted to know when the “special pensions” for veterans would be released.

The ministerial response, in full, reads: “As a result of the process and procedure that must be followed and finished before the final regulation can come into effect, the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) is working tirelessly to ensure that the military veterans pensions benefit can be paid out, but there is no precise date as to when the military veterans’ pension will be paid until all due processes are completed”.

The 11 April response is cold comfort to other public representatives seeking finalisation of the special pension. Bantu Holomisa of the UDM (United Democratic Movement) and Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarians Kobus Marais and Maliyakhe Shelembe, responsible for the defence and military veteran’s portfolio in the shadow cabinet, strongly oppose the new pension arrangement. They maintain, among others, it “favours” former non-statutory force personnel, including MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe) and Apla (Azanian Peoples Liberation Army) and that the new regulations will not stand “a legal challenge” (according to Marais). Shelembe maintains Modise is “undermining and failing to uphold” legislation pertaining specifically to military veterans”.

According to the Military Veterans Act of 2011: “Military veteran means any South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations, statutory and non-statutory forces involved in all sides of South Africa’s liberation’s War from 1960 to 1994, who became members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) after 1994.” In the draft the Minister only mentions the non-statutory forces Umkhonto weSizwe and Apla”. Shelembe wants Modise to explain why the South African Cape Corps and others were omitted from the draft regulations.

Apart from public representatives, veterans themselves have taken to WhatsApp groups to voice unhappiness about the new regulations. Particular mention is made of former SADF (SA Defence Force) conscripts, the Cape Corps and Military Skills Development (MSD) system recruits. Current reports are that well over two thousand veterans have aligned with the groups.

Recent reports have It the DMV “failed to unlock disbursement of funds” for military veterans toward the roll-out of pension benefits. For the current financial year, which ends of 30 April, R37 million is apparently earmarked for veterans’ pension. In the 2023/24 financial year R102 million is allocated, going up to R109 million in 2024/25 and R115 million in 2025/26.