Military veterans are struggling to access benefits from the Department of Military Veterans, and defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been urged to take action to remedy the situation.
The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) is presently managed by retired general Derrick Mgwebi who is acting director general in the wake of Max Ozinksy. He was appointed as the top official, also in an acting capacity, in the DMV late in 2016 and was replaced by the retired three-star general in mid-2018.
Maliyakhe Shelembe, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow deputy minister of defence and military veterans, is concerned about the appeal board established to review appeals about rejected assistance benefits.
“The delays are because the military veterans appeal board was not allocated any budget to perform its duties.
“The failure of the DMV to provide the appeals board with adequate resources prevented satisfactory process of appeals lodged by military veterans. Some benefits are housing, compensation, education support, facilitating employment, medical support and social relief.
“As at June 2020, of the 463 complaints received by the appeals board since inception in June 2015, 160 have been completed and 303 are pending due to the board’s unfunded mandate. This means these applicants and their families are possibly going without food, are homeless and don’t have access to healthcare facilities because the DMV failed to recognise the importance of the appeals board,” he said in a statement.
Shelembe maintains Mapisa-Nqakula did not take the appeals board “seriously”.
“She must answer as to why the board was not given funding for five years and why there was no apparent follow-up on whether appeals board members were conducting their duties,” he said, adding there was currently no board.
“The Minister appointed the appeals board members on 15 June 2015 with their term of office expiring on 30 June this year.”
He will take the DMV appeals board issue further by way of a letter to the Minister.
In another example of what can be termed “not doing what it’s supposed to”, a current notice on the DMV website states “2021 education application forms were posted in error and are therefore invalid”. This, one veteran said, was another sign the DMV “isn’t working”.