Mabuza tells veterans their “plight” is a high government priority

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Deputy President David Mabuza, wearing his Presidential task team on military veterans’ hat, identified four obstacles hindering delivery of services for old soldiers.

One, he told Western Cape veterans this week, is management of the national veterans’ database at the Department of Military Veterans (DMV).

The database and its shortcomings came under the spotlight during a recent Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) meeting where “slow progress” in updating and ensuring it is correct was noted as a concern. The committee, under the joint chairmanship of Cyril Xaba and Elleck Nchabeleng, urged DMV Director General Irene Mpolweni to “accelerate its upgrading”.

Other obstacles Mabuza named were the “negative impact” of COVID-19, the current “constrained” South African fiscal environment and that – unspecified – high impact projects – are awaiting approval.

Notwithstanding, the Deputy President said there was “significant progress” in addressing some military veterans’ challenges, nationally as well as in Western Cape.

This includes provision of housing to veterans’ dependents via an amendment to the Military Veterans Act, improving the floor plan of purposes-built houses and the execution of “remedial work” in a number of housing projects.

Following approval of the military veterans’ pension policy, the DMV has made provision to ensure pensions are paid. This will see R37 million available for the 2022/23 financial year, R102 million the following year, R109 million in 2024/25 and R115 million in 2025/26.

The DMV, Mabuza said, is working on regulations “to operationalise implementation of the pension benefit provisions” because it is aware of a deficit that needs to be “urgently” filled.

He also told Western Cape old soldiers the Presidential task team on military veterans “takes its mission and the continuing challenges faced by military veterans seriously” and is committed to ensuring the “plight of military veterans is accorded the highest priority in every government programme across all levels of government”.

The Western Cape was the seventh province to be called on by the Presidentially appointed task team and followed similar meetings in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West, where three took place.