Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has met with military veterans in Eastern Cape to report back on challenges unique to them as far as pensions and medical aid, among others, are concerned.
She led off her face-to-face with veterans in Mdantsane on Friday by saying: “The establishment of a turnaround team to help the department (of Military Veterans) perform its tasks more efficiently and with much-needed urgency has unlocked many bottlenecks that were an impediment to its mandate to deliver services to military veterans across the country”.
These include a special pension dispensation for struggle veterans, military pensions, medical aid benefits, access to education bursaries, housing and the integrity of the military veterans’ database.
Earlier this month hundreds of military veterans led by the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) marched to the Department of Military Veterans” Pretoria offices to protest benefits not being delivered to them and their dependents.
The veterans comprising former African National Congress‚ Pan Africanist Congress and Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) veterans, alongside former SA Defence Force (SADF) and non-statutory forces‚ first gathered at Pretoria station on Wednesday before heading to the department head office in Hatfield.
Manase Sifahle, commander of the Johannesburg region of the MK Military Veterans Association, said there were inconsistencies in the allocation of housing and problems with the payment of bursaries and medical benefits to veterans, Times Live reported.
“We cannot allow a situation where those who fought for this freedom are still homeless, are sleeping in shacks. We cannot allow a situation where military veterans are no longer treated by doctors or hospitals simply because this department can no longer pay bills,” Sifahle said.
He gave Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 14 days to sort out their grievances, which revolve around waiting years for promised military pensions and housing and medical benefits.
In a memorandum addressed to the department, the veterans demanded free access to public transport, immediate payment of military pensions and payment of medical bills within 30 days of the memorandum.
“We are already rolling out houses across the provinces however we acknowledge the pace must be upped and we believe that with the turnaround, we are going to up the pace faster,” the Department of Military Veterans’ Mbulelo Mmusi was quoted by SABC as saying.