The delivery of some benefits government has approved for military veterans increased in the just completed financial year, according to a statement issued by the Presidency.
“The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) is currently providing 5 782 bursaries to military veterans and their dependents of which 3 655 are for basic education with 2 127 for higher education. An amount of R121 million has been paid for education support.”
The DMV estimates it will provide education support to about nine thousand military veterans and dependents in 2017. Of the 9000 beneficiaries, there are 5000 continuing students while the rest, 4000, constitutes new beneficiaries.
“To date, almost 15 000 military veterans are being provided with free healthcare support. The DMV is working to sort out its database so more deserving veterans will receive much needed care and support.
“Government is on course to provide 1 000 houses to military veterans and a total of R138 million has been set aside for that purpose.
“Currently 1 900 destitute military veterans are provided with support through the Social Relief of Distress programme run by the Department of Social Development and an amount of R12 million has been set aside,” the statement issued by Dr Bongani Ngqulunga notes.
However, in August last year Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Justice expressed “discontent” with the DMV after learning it “only managed to build a disappointing 41 houses against a target of three thousand it intended for build in the 2015/16 financial year” according to a statement issued by Parliament.
“The committee also learnt with shock the revelation that because of this failure to build houses for military veterans, the department had to return about R150 million of its R163 million housing allocation to National Treasury,” it said last year.
There were only two “deserving military veterans with military housing” in 2013/14, but in the next three budget terms the Department plans to build 1 000 houses a year for military veterans, at a cost of R436.7 million.
The more than three thousand six hundred word statement issued on President Jacob Zuma’s 75th birthday also makes mention of Operation Phakisa, a multipronged government initiative to speed up job creation and boost economic progress across several sectors of the national economy.
The military’s only involvement to date is via the blue economy sector of the initiative that will see the SA Navy be an even more active contributor to maritime security.
On this initiative, the Presidency statement, notes: “Government has initiated Operation Phakisa to initially boost delivery in the oceans economy, education and health.
“The programme has since been expanded to mining and agriculture, in particular aquaculture. The President will officially launch the aquaculture and mining Phakisa initiatives early in the New Year.
“A lot of work has already been done in two sectors this year by government and stakeholders.”
The maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of South Africa’s ocean-bound assets, ranging from energy through to protein sources. It is currently ill-equipped regarding patrol forces and will acquire six new patrol vessels in terms of Project Biro. Armscor has announced Cape Town-based Damen Shipyards, part of the international Damen Group, as preferred bidder for the three each of inshore and offshore patrol vessels. The project will not get underway, in any manner, during the current financial year leaving only the Navy’s converted strikecraft as patrol vessels, supported by the Valour Class frigates and Heroine Class submarines.