Military veterans task team reports to Parliament


South African military veterans have “benefitted” by way of government providing just over two thousand houses for old soldiers in five years, a Presidential task team reported to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) this week.

The task team is headed by Deputy President David Mabuza and is part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to a veterans’ march on the Union Buildings in November 2020.

Housing has long been priority for particularly old soldiers from the former non-statutory forces (NSF) including MK and Apla. Other concerns regularly raised by veterans include healthcare, education and assistance with commercial ventures.

The veterans’ issues are, according to a presentation, being dealt with by eight work streams in the task team. They concentrate on redesigning the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) to meet its legislative mandate; socio-economic support; verifying the military veterans’ database; pensions and other benefits; heritage and memorialisation as well as land and agriculture. This work stream still has to be appointed and once operational will work with two national departments. The presentation has them as “Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries” and “Rural Development and Land Reform”.

Housing, as per the 80 square metre model, has seen 2091 veterans now able to say they have roofs over their heads.

By far the majority – 804 or 37% – are in Gauteng with Eastern Cape as distant second on 338 (16%). Worst off are KwaZulu-Natal veterans with 23 houses built in five years.

The task team housing work stream identified invasions of new and under construction houses as a problem area recommending identification of owners before building starts as one mitigation method.

Further housing is planned with some provinces experiencing delays in procurement processes due to COVID-19. Houses are under construction in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape.

The report states military veterans have been receiving COVID-19 unemployment top-up grants (R850) for the last 12 months. To date 1 058 military veterans have received the benefit and R8.9 million  paid to military veterans since inception of the top-up benefit.

On healthcare, 18 867 military veterans are approved for access to healthcare since the inception of the benefit and R510 million wasd paid for healthcare services between 2014 and 2020.

To date, over 6 300 military veterans accessed counselling services since 2013, some through group and individual therapy interventions.

A proposed military veterans’ pension is R6 615 a month. Preliminary analysis shows a maximum of R66 million a month should all 9 827 approved veterans qualify for the pension, the presentation stated. The DMV will request budget for this from National Treasury, with a decision expected around April next year.