The Military Veterans Act of 2011 provides for an appeal board to serve the best interests of former soldiers with a Parliamentary committee hearing this week of its ability to tell veterans what it is and what it is doing.
Speaking during a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV), appeal board member Nomsa Dlamini said budgetary constraints impacted on the board’s work and its ability to inform military veterans of its existence. Additionally the appeal option available to military veterans should they not be satisfied with Department of Military Veterans’ (DMV) decisions is also not widely known.
PCDMV chair Cyril Xaba said regulations – still to be promulgated – for addition to the nine-year-old act will “give direction to some grey areas” as far as the appeal board is concerned.
These include budget, terms of reference and rules guiding the operation of the board. Taking into account what the committee heard, Xaba said regulation promulgation needed urgent attention.
A Parliamentary Communication Services statement on the meeting said: “The appeal board highlighted capacity constraints and a lack of co-operation from the DMV, which often results in default judgements being made”.
Xaba called for “adequate support” for the appeals board so it can meet its statutory obligations. The DMV was “instructed” by the Parliamentary oversight committee to “look at (appeal board) capacity and assign a dedicated official”.
The PCDMV also noted the lack of capacity and resources for “extensive roadshows” to allow the appeals board to “inform military veterans of its existence” adding old soldiers should know they can inform “their” department of grievances they have with it.