Mashatile highlights military veterans’ “plight” amid slow pension payouts

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South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile, reporting on the military veterans’ Presidential Task Team (PTT) he heads, this week voiced concern at the slow pace of pension pay-outs to old soldiers and again stressed the government is giving high priority to the “plight of military veterans”.

The PTT was set up after a march on the Union Buildings by disgruntled military veterans in November 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa assigned chairmanship to his then deputy, David “DD” Mabuza. Another contributing incident came in October 2021 when a group going by the name of the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) held Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and then Minister in The Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, hostage for a few hours after a meeting at the St George’s Hotel, now the SA National War College (SANWC).

Post a special PTT meeting yesterday (Thursday, 18 April) a statement has Mashatile saying more than 700 pension pay-outs have been made out of 1 600 plus applications for this government approved benefit. He goes on to note concern at the slow pace of delivery as regards veterans’ pensions. “Since the gazetting of pension benefits [late in 2022 with subsequent amendments]” and payments made there are more than 950 applications “not finally processed due to outstanding banking details”.

Agreeing there was a need to strengthen effective, timely and co-ordinated communication between government and military veterans, Mashatile is reported as saying the PTT, “is dedicated to ensuring the plight of military veterans is given the highest priority in every government programme on every level and takes its mandate and ongoing issues encountered by veterans seriously”.

“We must collaborate to ensure there are concerted efforts to better the economic and social conditions of our nation’s veterans in light of the unique challenges they face.”

The PTT agreed on a military veterans’ national consultative summit in May, the same month South Africans go to the polls to vote for National Assembly (NA), National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and provincial legislature public representatives. No date is given for the summit, which will reportedly be held in Gauteng. It will “offer a platform to report progress achieved in resolving concerns raised by military veterans”.

In February, the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA), appointed by the Department of Military Veterans to implement pension payments for old soldiers, said that by the second month of the year, 268 veterans had received pension payments.

The GPAA added that more than 19 000 applications were received from old soldiers with “approval and payment of at least four thousand applicants” expected by the end of March. Some 14 500 were in various stages of approval.