The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) is not having a good 2014. It has been troubled by allegations of improper financial behaviour, senior officials have been suspended, its annual report is late, it has been named as the worst performing government department and claims are now being made veterans are not receiving the benefits due to them.
DA shadow deputy defence and military veterans minister, Shahid Esau, will take up the sorry situation that is Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe’s, responsibility with the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans in an effort to ensure registered and deserving veterans receive benefits as prescribed in the Military Veterans Act.
He has seen a copy of the delayed annual report and will immediately be taking up four issues with Committee chairman, Stanley Motimele. These are R24 million in irregular expenditure; an underspend of R185 million, at a time when many veterans don’t receive the benefits they deserve; the fact that the national military veterans database has only 57 000 names on it and that, in terms of the definition of a veteran by legislation, there could be up to 850 000 South Africans who qualify.
Elaborating Esau said currently there are 57 000 of the “139 000 known military veterans on the DMV benefits database”.
“This means thousands of eligible veterans are not receiving their benefits. Further, only 16 000 of the 57 000 have been verified as veterans. This constitutes just 28% and when the definition of a military veteran, as set out in the Military Veterans Act of 2011, is taken into account there could be up to 850 000 veterans in South Africa,” he said.
Problems at the DMV first came to light in May this year when director general Tsepe Motumi and the deputy director general: corporate services Lifeni Make, were suspended as part of an internal forensic investigation. The director general was later cleared of wrongdoing and allowed to return to work but Esau said, “the deputy director general remains suspended as part of the forensic investigation”.
Motumi was instructed to implement the findings of the forensic report “with immediate effect” by Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said in July. The investigation was in connection with procurement and provisioning systems in place at the DMV.
At the beginning of October Mapisa-Nqakula told Parliament the DMV annual report would be late because its chief financial officer was placed on special leave in August pending disciplinary action.
Further adding to the DMV’s woes was the announcement this week by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation that it was the “lowest performing department in the Public Service”.
This dubious appellation was attributed to its management practices where weaknesses in 15 of the 31 prescribed measurement standards were not met. The Committee specifically identified non-payment of suppliers with a 30 days period as well as a lack of professional ethics as being matters for concern.
“The DMV is in a shambles and not able to provide care to thousands of military veterans who are in desperate need,” Esau said.