Defence Portfolio Committee wants ministerial involvement in veterans’ management


South Africa’s military veterans are not in a good place when it comes to administration and management of their affairs with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) resolving to “engage” Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Following a presentation to the committee, a Parliamentary statement has it “the organisational structure approved in 2010, ahead of the founding legislation, vision and mission, has not been reviewed. Of particular concern is it is not aligned to the Department of Military Veteran’s service delivery model”.

The statement, issued on behalf of PCDMV chair Cyril Xaba, wants to involve the Minister on “a lack of strategic leadership as well as systemic and structural challenges in the Department of Military Veterans (DMV)”.

“The DMV identified the need for visible and stable leadership to sustain strategic oversight as an enabler to achieve targets set in its five year strategic plan. The committee sees this endeavour failing if the DMV does not address issues related to organisational structure, vacancies at top management level, as well as policies critical to delivery of services and functioning of the department.

“This is important if the DMV is to successfully bring about change management and enhance the organisational culture it posits in its strategic plan.”

Five years ago, the then Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow deputy defence and military veterans minister Shahid Esau told Parliament the DMV was “losing probably the biggest battle in its history, the one for sound management and accountable leadership”.

Since then the DMV bid farewell to director-general Tsepe Motumi who was replaced by an acting director-general in the form of former Western Cape provincial government member Max Ozinsky. He in turn was replaced in mid-2017 by retired lieutenant general Derrick Mgwebi. At ministerial level former deputy Kebby Maphatsoe was not selected in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. In his position as deputy minister of defence and military veterans Ramaphosa named Thabang Makwetla, who served as deputy to Lindiwe Sisulu, when she was the senior civilian in the defence ministry.

In 2015 the DMV had the dubious distinction of being named the worst performing government department. The “title” was “bestowed” by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee tasked with public service and administration.

The recent Parliamentary statement highlighted the importance of and need for the DMV to establish “a credible database” of military veterans nationally.

Estimates are South Africa is home to about 81 000 military veterans. The majority – 41 446 – are from the former SADF (SA Defence Force). The current national defence force contributes 14 804 with APLA contributing 5 284 and MK 13 473. Two former homeland defence forces, Transkei (1 980) and Bophuthatswana (1 794) each add a thousand plus to the national military veteran population.