“Headless” department not managing military veterans’ affairs

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The military veterans’ component of Minister Thandi Modise’s Cabinet portfolio is under fire, this time for not ensuring at least an acting director-general is in position while the incumbent is suspended.

“The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) has had no Director-General nor Acting Director-General for more than a month,” a Democratic Alliance (DA) statement has its shadow deputy minister of defence and military veterans Maliyakhe Shelembe saying as a prelude to “demanding” Modise appoint an acting director-general “forthwith”.

He points out the DMV manages benefits for military veterans and their families as well as managing databases used to distribute the benefits. “The department failed to finalise the national database for military veterans since 2011, despite the Presidential Task Team intervention led by former Deputy President David Mabuza,” the statement has Shelembe saying.

Irene Mpolweni, DMV Director-General, was suspended earlier this year with it becoming public knowledge via a Parliamentary Communication Service statement on 8 March. Modise, the statement reads, has yet to appoint a replacement with the department and its budget of more than R70 million left “headless”.

“The absence of a Director-General or Acting Director-General in this department will continue to impact negatively on service delivery of benefits including pension, housing, access to health, burial support, education, facilitation of employment placements, subsidisation of public transport as well as compensation for military veterans who sustained disabling injuries from participation in military activities.

“Eligible deserving military veterans and their dependents are suffering the consequences of a failing government. From 2011 to now, the minister has had food on her table every day, while some military veterans are starving. The ANCs failure to implement the Military Veterans Act of 2011 is one of the main contributors to this crisis.

“A key issue this department currently experiences is a challenge where several military veterans were allocated houses without being vetted and not appearing on the military veterans’ national database, assisted by corrupt DMV officials while deserving military veterans are ignored.

“Military veterans are not receiving their pensions due to the DMV’s failure to finalise the pension policy since 2011. Military veterans still struggle to access health facilities due to the failure of the department to provide transport as provided for in the Act. The call centre is dysfunctional despite intervention by the Presidential Task Team.

“The total disregard for the lives and livelihood of military veterans in South Africa under the ANC government is inexcusable,” Shelembe said, adding his party will “demand” the new pension policy is “immediately finalised”.