Answering questions in the National Assembly (NA), President Cyril Ramaphosa said military veterans and their children should “enjoy the fruits of freedom they helped bring about”.
The South African leader, also Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces, was replying to ANC parliamentarian Thabo Mmutle, who sits on both the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).
Ramaphosa told Mmutle that concerns raised by military veterans are receiving attention from, among others, the presidential task team on military veterans. It is headed by Deputy President David Mabuza and has, as far as is known, had one “interaction” with military veterans, in Limpopo. The aim of the June engagement was stated “as assessing progress achieved by government in addressing the challenges faced by military veterans”. In addition to meeting veterans’ organisations, Mabuza’s task team met “inter-governmental stakeholders”.
Government is, according to Ramaphosa, reviewing the Military Veterans Act; restructuring the Department of Military Veterans (DMV); “capacitating” provincial military veterans’ offices; consulting on and funding for a “pension policy” with a target date of 1 April 2022; and continuing verification of military veterans who “are non-statutory force members”.
Additionally, the DMV is “repositioning its skills development and empowerment programme to ensure military veterans participate in all government programmes that can create jobs and business and entrepreneurship opportunities”.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been entered into with Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. This will see the department and its agencies assist with “repatriation of remains, erection of monuments in host countries and memorialisation of fallen heroes”.
Ramaphosa acknowledged the challenges faced by old soldiers “are many, they are complex and will require a common approach from all parts of government”.
Progress and developments outlined by Ramaphosa follow veterans’ complaints to his office last year and presentation of grievance memorandum by “a group called the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV)” after marching on the Union Buildings in November last year.