The Department of Military Veterans’ (DMV) annual report for 1013/14 makes no bones about pushing government’s “good story to tell” line with Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s foreword highlighting new institutional and policy arrangements “dedicated to service military veterans”.
In contrast to her words the report a table titled “DMV Strategic Risks” lists “fictitious military veterans might have been registered and receiving (sic) the military veterans benefits; duplicate force numbers, inadequate control over registration/authorisation” and “unauthorised breaches to the database”. In all three instances no actions to improve management of the risk are listed.
Mapisa-Nqakula writes, in the annual report tabled late in Parliament due to the suspension of its chief financial officer, the arrangements “demonstrate both the political will and commitment of the ANC-led government to change the lives of military veterans and their dependents for the better in a systematic, progressive and sustainable manner”.
Since its establishment as a directorate within the Human Resources Division of the Department of Defence five years ago, the fledgling DMV has, according to the Minister, made significant progress towards realisation of set priorities notwithstanding “teething challenges” and “constrained resources”.
The priorities are: ensuring a fully functional DMV with an independent budget vote and systems; strengthening governance and oversight protocols; provision of immediate relief to the most vulnerable military veterans; providing comprehensive support services to military veterans and, where applicable, their dependents; promote empower programmes for military veterans; promotion of military veterans’ heritage as well as memorialising and honouring them and implementing a “high impact” communication and marketing strategy and plan.
As far as the separate DMV is concerned, Mapisa-Nqakula notes it is now a fully-fledged department with a staff complement of 123 located at national and provincial level.
“It has its own transversal and accounting systems, its own building and is serviced through a transfer payment from the administration programme of the Defence and Military Veterans budget vote. The transfer payment in the 2013 financial year was regarded as a transitional step achieved towards an independent budget vote. The 2014 MTSF (Medium Term Strategic Framework) will entail realisation of the separate military veterans’ budget vote with adequate funding to service the national, provincial, local and regional footprint of the military veterans’ community.”
As far as veterans’ services are concerned the DMV had, by the end of the 2013/14 financial year, ensured healthcare for 4 719 veterans as well as embarking on a once-off payment in a compensation pilot for military pensions.
The DMV has also, in partnership with the Department of Public Works (DPW), developed a design for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This will be presented to Cabinet for approval in due course. No mention is made in the report of a site for the memorial.