New military veterans’ pension regulations are not constitutional – claim

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United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa maintains Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise should give urgent attention to, among others, “major problems with services” for military veterans.

The former two-star general penned a letter setting out what he perceives to be problem areas for at least some of South Africa’s old soldiers to Modise in the wake of meeting representatives of the Transkei Defence Force Military Veterans Association (TDFMVA).

“There are major problems with services provided for military veterans and their dependents,” he writes adding: “The feeling is the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) needs to up its game where housing, education and health services for veterans are concerned”.

He sides with Democratic Alliance (DA) public representatives Kobus Marais and Maliyakhe Shelembe who see the military veterans’ pension benefits regulation signed off by Modise early in December as marginalising old soldiers and not being “in line” with the Military Veterans Act of 2011.

Shelembe points out the regulations apply only to the so-called non-statutory forces (NSFs) and “completely leaves out” the statutory forces, presumably former SA Defence Force (SADF) personnel.

“The Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution clearly states everyone is equal before the law, has the right to protection and further stipulates discrimination on one or more is unfair,” he said in a statement.

The deputy shadow defence and military veterans minister said it is “disappointing” Minister Modise is “undermining and failing to uphold” legislation pertaining specifically to military veterans. He explains: “Military veterans means any South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations, statutory and non-statutory forces involved in all sides of South Africa’s liberation’s War from 1960 to 1994, who became members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) after 1994. In the draft the Minister only mentions the non-statutory forces Umkhonto weSizwe and Apla (Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army”.  Shelembe also wants Modise to explain why the South African Cape Corps was left out of the draft regulations.

Holomisa in his letter to Modise writes: “The veterans (TDFMVA) believe the African National Congress (ANC) veterans have internal problems of their own.” These, according to him, include “under-age veterans” and “some claiming millions of Rand in compensation”.

“They [again presumably the TDFMVA] believe the ANC must sort out its internal mess and not cloud issues” which should include strictly adhering to the Military Veterans Act.

Marais, the DA shadow defence and military veterans minister, was of the opinion “there is no way these [latest] regulations will stand the test of a judicial process”.

Speaking during a December briefing on the pension pay-outs, which she said was going to be delayed due to “unforeseen administrative processes”, Modise was reported by an official government website as saying “priority would be given to former non-statutory forces’ members as the main target group to access this benefit”. This, according to her, was due to the intervention of the Presidential task team on military veterans, led by Deputy President David Mabuza.