According to Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the latest annual report (2019/20) of the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) comes at “a historic moment” marking not only 10 years of the department’s existence but also the first time it has “a separate vote of its own from the Department of Defence (DoD)”.
Mapisa-Nqakula is Minister of Defence in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet and her portfolio includes military veterans, as evidenced by her full title – Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. An organogram in the DMV report, tabled at a Portfolio Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) meeting in Parliament last week, shows her at the top with deputy minister, Thabang Makwetla, immediately below and entrusted with veterans’ affairs.
The Ministerial foreword has it that since it was established on 1 April 2010 the DMV “has been slowly but surely maturing with the times”.
“It has by and large been focusing on facilitation and co-ordination to strengthen inter-governmental relations to ensure easy and faster access of military veterans and their dependents to benefits stipulated in the Military Veterans Act of 2011.
“The DMV is steadily maturing with the times in the execution of its mandate. Other government departments are increasingly moving towards policies and programme commitments of prioritising services to military veterans and their dependents as a designated group. Through this collective action, the DMV continues to ensure that in the short term military veterans and their dependents have access to 11 benefits as outlined in the Act in a seamless manner and in accordance with available resources. The vision being to ultimately empower the military veterans’ community empowered to be self-reliant (sic).
“During the year under review, significant albeit modest advances have been made in delivering these benefits and services to many military veterans. This relates to provision of health and wellness services, education support, housing, empowerment and skills development, memorialisation and burial support as well as building the capacity and capability of the DMV to deliver in its mandate. The DMV has had to contend with the changing macro socio-economic environment of an economic growth rate of less than two percent which was further exacerbated by the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in serious budgets cuts with far-reaching socio-economic implications and the provision of the benefits and services to the military veterans’ community (sic),” is the Ministerial observation on how the DMV works.
Mapisa-Nqakula makes mention of the military veterans database calling it “elusive”.
“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. The database will be the anchor for accessing all military veterans’ benefits. This national database will also serve as a knowledge hub for South African history and serve as part of honouring those who participated in creating the free, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa (sic),” is the Ministerial pronouncement on the database, currently under scrutiny by Department of Home Affairs (DHA) specialists working alongside DMV personnel.
This move was earlier this month welcomed by the JSCD which noted it will hold the DMV to account on its three-month commitment to complete the work.
“Cleaning the database is critical in the context of shrinking resources even before they are diverted to servicing an extended unverified database,” is the JSCD opinion on what the Minister said was “long overdue”.