A parliamentary committee has expressed “grave concern” over the lack of housing provided by the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) following a visit to the northern provinces.
The Select Committee on Security and Justice this week visited, among others, AFB Hoedspruit and a military veterans housing site project.
“The department’s inability to provide adequate services and the support it has been established to offer to military veterans cannot be tolerated – and as legislators we need responses from the executive authority in this regard,” said committee chair, Kgoshi Setlamorago Thobejane.
The committee as a whole expressed “discontent” with the DMV after learning it “only managed to build a disappointing 41 houses against a target of three thousand it intended for build in the 2015/16 financial year” according to a statement issued by Parliament.
“The committee also learnt with shock the revelation that because of this failure to build houses for military veterans, the department had to return about R150 million of its R163 million housing allocation to National Treasury.”
Thobejane said: “Such underspending in the face of abject poverty is unacceptable and answers on how to prevent this from recurring must be provided by the executive authority”.
In June last year the DMV issued a statement saying it had an agreement with the Department of Human Settlements to “deliver a fifty square metre house to military veterans who are not employed or those who do not earn enough to afford to buy a house”.
The DMV has, it said then transferred R78 million for these houses and R164 million had been set aside for the 2015/16 financial year to “cater for the houses”.
In April this year hundreds of military veterans led by the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) marched to the Department of Military Veterans to protest benefits not being delivered to them and their dependents, including housing, bursaries and medical benefits.
The Department of Military Veterans planned to greatly roll out benefits to military veterans over the next couple of years, with a focus on health care, housing and skills development. The Department has been allocate R597.6 million in the 2016/17 budget period, R634.7 million for 2017/18 and R673.4 million for 2018/19, according to the latest government budget document.
In 2012/13 there were just 200 “deserving military veterans with access to health care services” but this had grown to 13 923 in 2015/16, with plans to increase to 16 000 in 2018/19.
There were only two “deserving military veterans with military housing” in 2013/14, but in the next three budget terms the Department plans to build 1 000 houses a year for military veterans, at a cost of R436.7 million.