DMV not in a good place – oversight committee

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One of Parliament’s two committees charged with oversight of defence and military veterans is “extremely concerned” by “slow progress” in updating the national military veterans’ database.

Following a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) meeting this week, it issued a statement noting the “challenge” the database appears to be facing and urged Department of Military Veterans (DMV) director general Irene Mpolweni to “accelerate” its upgrading.

“Three years on we are still talking about database cleansing and verification,” the statement quotes PCDMV co-chair Cyril Xaba saying, with him adding: “It is critical the database is finalised as it is the centre of all DMV activities”. Ominously, he cautioned the DMV’s “lack of appetite” to finalise the database could see the next Parliamentary administration faced with the same issue.

The DMV was  taken to task by the PCDMV for not making “sufficient progress” in filling vacancies. A recommendation for Mpolweni’s DMV to provide a comprehensive plan “with timeframes” on dealing with vacancies as well as “challenges related to its audit and internal audit committees” is also made in the statement. At present, the DMV has 23 vacant posts.

The DMV presented progress on educational support to military veterans and their dependents. “The committee heard the DMV struggled with monitoring payment of tuition of students in public institutions due to administrative deficiencies. It has since updated all outstanding student debts,” the PCDMV statement said.

A recent oversight visit to Gauteng saw PCDMV parliamentarians call on the DMV offices in Pretoria’s Hatfield. They raised an issue which, according to them, is repeatedly brought to their attention as public representatives, but not given attention. “Disrespectful treatment” by DMV personnel is unacceptable, the committee noted, adding service delivery needs to improve as well as “the treatment of military veterans”.

Separately, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais, told defenceWeb “most, if not all, the challenges facing the DMV are the consequences of poor and unacceptable staff performance”. He also referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing “with much fanfare” Deputy President David Mabuza would “personally be responsible” for military veterans’ concerns. This saw a Presidential task team, headed by Mabuza, set up with a number of work streams all to improve the lot of South Africa’s old soldiers. The Deputy President embarked on a round of provincial visits to meet veterans’ organisations which today (Thursday, 10 November) sees him in the Western Cape, specifically Cape Town, following seven other engagements. Three were in North West (Potchefstroom and Mafikeng) and the others in Gauteng (Johannesburg), Limpopo (Polokwane) and Free State (Manguaung).

On the plus side of the ledger a National Treasury letter dated 1 November, confirming R37 million is available for veterans pensions in 2022/23; R102 million the following year; R109 million in 2024/25; and R115 million in 2025/26 was received by the DMV. The military veterans pension policy was approved in April this year.