Still no finality on veterans’ pensions

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“Instability” at senior management level coupled to what some term “bureaucratic bungling” is denying properly registered South African military veterans are not receiving what is due to them.

Highlighting the ongoing saga of non-payment of veterans’ pension benefits post a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) meeting this week Democratic Alliance (DA), shadow deputy minister of defence and military veterans Maliyakhe Shelembe pointed out the Military Veterans Act made it to the Statute Book in 2011.

“Military veterans,” he said in a statement, “are yet to receive their pension benefits because the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) has not published pension regulations. The regulations were signed by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise on 31 July 2023”.

“On 20 September 2023, Minister Modise said benefits would be backdated to 1 April 2023 and the amended regulations would be published in the Government Gazette.

“Unfortunately for military veterans in dire circumstances, to date, the dysfunctional DMV and the Minister have still not fulfilled these tasks.”

Shelembe notes the DMV has “struggled for 12 years to compose the pension regulations”. This, according to him, left old soldiers “bearing the brunt, with some no longer alive to benefit”. At least part of the problem – to him – is the suspension of DMV Director General Irene Mpolweni in March this year. The DG position is currently filled by previous SA Navy (SAN) chief, Mosiwa Hlongwane. He is not the first retired senior SA National Defence Force (SANDF) officer to be parachuted into the senior DMV post, held by Derrick Mgwebi between 2018 and 2020.

According to his statement, the DMV “made a commitment” to publish the pension regulations by today (Friday, 6 October).