Proof that provision of housing for registered and verified military veterans remains a government priority comes with a weekend announcement by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that at least 5,000 houses will be built for them before the end of the current financial year.
Sisulu is no stranger to military veterans, having been responsible for their welfare during her tenure as defence minister from 2009 to 2012. She has maintained a link with military veterans since being moved to her current portfolio by SA National Defence Force Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma. Earlier this year she said her department would take the responsibility of physically building houses for veterans from the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), headed by deputy defence minister Kebby Maphatsoe.
Addressing veterans from different formations in Cape Town on Sunday, Sisulu paid tribute to those who had played a role in making freedom in South Africa a reality.
“Military veterans played a central role in pushing the apartheid government to start negotiating with the ANC. We owe our freedom to you and it is my mission to ensure that in this financial year all military veterans have houses, decent houses, fit for the sacrifices you have made for us as a nation,” she said, adding her department would report back within 14 days on how the veterans’ housing backlog will be eliminated.
She also indicated veterans themselves would be part of the building process.
“Some of you still have energy from the camps; we must convert that energy into construction skills for you to work with us in building your own houses. I want you to become the construction developers of the future and get involved in mega projects,” she said during a meeting which was part of a monthly stakeholder outreach programme the Human Settlements Ministry runs.
To date, the department of military veterans 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. The DMV had spent 91% of its R462 million budget by March 31 this year.
The budget for the military veterans for the financial year 2015/2016 is R582 million and for the rollout of benefits is R424 million.