Government has established a Technical Task Team to provide technical support as well as to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of the program of action of the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans.
This was on Friday announced by Deputy President David Mabuza during the Gauteng provincial engagement with military veterans.
This was to synthesise government’s intervention in resolving grievances and improving assistance to the community.
The Deputy President emphasised that the role played by the many military veterans would remain etched in the national memory and consciousness of citizens.
“[Military veterans] sacrificed everything about themselves in order to ensure that South Africa and indeed all our people are rescued from the relentless jaws of apartheid,” said the Deputy President.
It was for this reason, he said, government remained committed to ensuring that military veterans are accorded the care and opportunities to lead a decent life.
“We have called this meeting to seek your guidance, your active support and patience while we endeavour to find sustainable ways to a feasible resolution to the grievances that have been raised,” he said.
Deputy President Mabuza said the Presidency in 2020 became increasingly inundated with a number of complaints from military veterans.
“In essence, these complaints were about the perceived or actual failure of the Department of Military Veterans to dispense adequate services,” he said.
On 10 November, members of the Liberation Struggle War Veterans marched to the Union Buildings where they presented a memorandum of grievances to the President. In response, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a high-level briefing on the plight of the community where he was briefed on the existing support package as well as areas of concern.
Consequently, the President appointed the Presidential Task Team on the affairs of Military Veterans.
Chaired by Deputy President Mabuza, the Task Team also comprised the Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla.
Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who has stepped into the role after the passing away of Minister Jackson Mthembu, is also part of the team.
From the beginning, he said, it was clear that the resolution of many of the grievances raised would require the participation of different line-function Ministries as well as different spheres of government.
“In order to synthesise our effort, we subsequently established a Technical Task Team that we have tasked with the responsibility to render technical support as well as to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of the program-of-action of the Presidential Task Team,” he said.
Complaints raised by military veterans, he said, suggested that there was a need for the development of a comprehensive approach that is geared towards obliging the Department of Military Veterans to develop the requisite institutional capacity.
“[This] will enable it to optimally deliver on its mandate, in a transparent and accountable manner. We have further noted that although different military veterans groupings had complained about different things, in the end, the core of these complaints revolved around matters that are more or less related,” he said.
These include the social relief of distress, educational assistance, the provision of decent housing, job opportunities, as well as land and housing allocation, among others.
The Deputy President said the Presidential Task Team will continue to focus issues such as facilitation of an effective, coordinated and flexible government-wide response and a joint action plan aimed at finding solutions to specific issues of concern to the plight of military veterans.
This, he said, would mainly be through an issue management approach.
“The promotion of inter-linkages that encourages timely and relevant exchange of data and information on specific issues, as well as the fostering of compatibility of different approaches to finding solutions to common problems,” he said.
This will contribute to the synergy and complementarity among and between the activities of different government departments as well as different spheres of government.
He said this was demonstrated by the engagements the Presidency has had with the Premier’s office of Gauteng.
Through these engagements, government had conceptualised and constituted seven work streams. The work streams have been tasked with focusing and pursuing specific thematic areas.
“That will bring us much closer to resolving most of the grievances that have been brought to our attention,” he said.
The seven work streams are the legislative review work stream; the organisational re-design work stream; the verification, database cleansing and enhancement work stream; the socio-economic support work stream, the pensions and benefits work stream; the heritage, memorialisation and the burial work stream; and the communications workstream.
Deputy President Mabuza said the challenges faced by military veterans were myriad and complex.
“They require all of us, provinces, districts and indeed the private sector, to commit to a joint action approach to resolving these specific challenges,” he said.
“A society that owes its very existence to the sacrifices made by its own gallant daughters and sons must endeavour to ensure that its military veterans and their families can also have the possibilities of enjoying the fruits of the freedom that they have helped to bring forth.”