Are military veterans creeping up government’s priority list?


Indications are government, not only in the form of its designated national department, is knuckling down to improve the lot of South Africa’s military veterans.

Heading the indicators is Deputy President David Mabuza being picked by his boss, President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the go-to man for old soldiers. Number two on the action list for military veterans came from Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV). This committee, under the guidance of chair Cyril Xaba, gave the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) three months to get the long-awaited veterans’ database in order, up and running and it will be checking on progress.

Add to these developments the announcement by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that the DMV “now has a separate vote of its own from the Department of Defence (DoD) for the first time since its establishment on 1 April, 2010”. She penned these words in her introductory remarks to the 2019/20 annual report, tabled in Parliament in November.

She also made mention of the veterans’ database writing the DMV “is still working hard with all its stakeholders in fast tracking the long overdue creation of a secured, reliable and credible national military veterans’ database”.

As far as the “own vote” is concerned a reliable source close to Parliament told defenceWeb he did not see the DMV becoming a standalone department.

“The DMV will not have its own minister. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will maintain responsibility,” the source said giving the example of the SA Police Service where IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate) and the Police Secretariat, among others, were entities with an “own vote, but not an own minister”.

“Importantly, the DMV has its own chief financial officer (CFO). This is a requirement for an independent budget vote.”

“The major implication is the DMV is now less dependent on the DoD for its budgetary aspects. It may also shift funds within the vote more easily in line with the Public Finance Management Act guidelines on shifts within a vote.”

In terms of her performance agreement Mapisa-Nqakula is responsible for, as far as military veterans are concerned, the improvement and sustaining “the level of socio-economic status of military veterans’ community through the facilitation and co-ordination instructions aimed at providing a comprehensive delivery system of benefits and services (sic)”.

She, in turn, delegated a number of powers and functions to her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, regarding the military veterans’ component of her portfolio. These include oversight and responsibility for military veterans’ benefits partnerships, establishment of a heroes’ acre and responsibility for the Military Veterans’ Advisory Council and the Military Veterans Appeal Board.