That the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) doesn’t enjoy a high success ranking is evidenced by the appointment of a Presidential task team (PTT) to turn around the problems experienced by old soldiers in, among others, the provision of healthcare.
This came to the fore this week during a meeting of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV), the lone oversight body tasked with the well-being of veterans.
Committee co-chair Cyril Xaba pointed out the PCDMV was concerned about delays in provision of essential support to military veterans “especially in the context of the history of challenges facing the DMV”.
These include “cleaning up” and verification of the veterans database, essential for proper disbursement of benefits ranging from pensions through to education and business assistance. The challenge areas are part of the work set out for the PTT, headed by Deputy President David Mabuza, in eight work streams. They cover the provision of socio-economic support, redesigning the DMV as well as “heritage and memorialisation”.
Speaking after the PCDMV meeting, Xaba welcomed “some green shoots” from the work streams, noting concern about provision of healthcare delayed by “policy uncertainty”.
Provision of healthcare is a primary and constitutional imperative according to Xaba. “Waiting for this long for policy review and a possible amendment to legislation is unacceptable. Notwithstanding the committee welcomes the appointment of a permanent director-general (Irene Mpolweni) at the department which will hopefully add impetus to realise strategic objectives.”
The PCDMV approved efforts to institutionalise the relationship between the DMV and other government departments and agencies.
“To this end, the PCDMV welcomes the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Gauteng and Eastern Cape provincial governments as well as some State-owed entities (SOEs).
“The military veterans’ database remains an area of concern and urgency is needed to ensure its finalisation. Finalisation of the database is critical in enabling effective planning and budgeting.”
Xaba’s committee welcomed Mpolweni’s assurance of consequence management against officials responsible for negative audit findings and that the process must be concluded by year-end.
As far as audit findings are concerned 73 audit findings were identified by the Auditor-General, with 25 recurring. “The committee is hopeful the appointment of a director general and a planned recruitment drive will ensure effective management and drive the DMV to achieve its mandate,” Xaba said.