An upbeat director general Tsepe Motumi has told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans that the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) has “turned the corner”.
As evidence of this new approach, he said R78 million had been transferred to the Department of Human Settlements for the “top-up to the construction of about 1, 500 houses for military veterans” in the current financial year.
In November last year the DMV, headed by Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe, was named the lowest performing department in the Public Service. The unwanted appellation came from Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The DMV, along with five other national government departments, did not appear before this Portfolio Committee when invited and “more concerning it showed weaknesses in 15 of the 31 measurement standards (prescribed in the 2012/13 Management Performance Assessment Tool) and was rated the lowest performing department in the entire Public Service. This included weaknesses in areas such as payment of suppliers within 30 days, professional ethics as well as internal audit”.
Motumi told the committee a turnaround strategy has been developed for the DMV and it will be rolled out to ensure DMV works more effectively and efficiently in delivering on its mandate. This was in line with announcements made by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula during her budget vote speech.
She told the National Assembly she would be deploying a team to help strengthen the turnaround strategy in the DMV and factor in the concerns of the Parliamentary Committee and SCOPA (Standing Committee on Public Accounts). She said an appeal boards had been set up to assist the DMV in “resolving challenges”. The establishment of an advisory council for the DMV in “a few months’ time” will also assist with better service provision to military veterans.
The Department of Human Settlements that will be responsible for building veterans’ houses is headed by Lindiwe Sisulu, who held the defence and military veterans portfolio in President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet before a ministerial shuffle saw Mapisa-Nqakula take over. Even though she is no longer directly involved with military veterans, Sisulu has publicly stated her department remains committed to providing housing for them.
Speaking in Midrand last October Sisulu said: “It is our intention to clear the backlog of military veterans who need houses and shelter in less than three years. We will be launching projects in all nine provinces. We want to build them decent houses to restore their dignity and to honour their contribution to freedom. This is a national priority”.
Motumi told the Parliamentary committee: “We have now turned the corner as the Department of Military Veterans. The provision of benefits to military veterans will be accelerated in a manner unprecedented during the year 2015/16”.
To date, the department has provided education support to almost 4 000 veterans and their dependents and 6 795 veterans have been on the receiving end of healthcare support. He did not divulge the cost of these benefits apart from telling the committee the DMV had spent 91% of its R462 million budget by March 31 this year.