Veterans of all colours and backgrounds can qualify for the benefits. This includes former members of uMkhonto we Sizwe, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army as well as the South African Defence Force. The benefits are to include health care, housing, a pension and education, according to the Military Veterans Bill passed by Parliament last year.
Dlamini further told the paper the precise nature and scope of the benefits veterans will receive, as well as the regulations in terms of which payments will be made has not yet been promulgated. Veterans can phone 012 671 1015 for help. The registration form is also on the DoD website, www.dod.mil.za, but this week the link to the document – and many others – was broken.
Tel: 012 651 5921
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Tel: (012) 671 1212
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Department of Military Veterans Director General Tsepe Motumi said the figure was “what Cabinet approved” and conceded that the amount “may go up as we move into full-scale implementation”. There would be a gradual phasing in after the legislation was passed by Parliament and enacted, he said.
The DA’s Maynier said the processing of the bill had been “shambolic from the start” and it was frustrating that the department had never been able to properly say how much it would cost to implement. The bill was initially sent back to the department because it had been tabled without costing and was then returned without the issue fully resolved, in apparent contradiction of the 1999 Public Finance Management Act that determines all Bills must be properly costed before enactment.
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla, who is tasked with veterans matters, argued that an exception had been made because of the difficulty ascertaining the number of ex-soldiers that would be affected. Maynier asked that his objections on the issue be placed on the record. “I’m concerned that the department has never been able to properly brief us about the cost implications and the assumptions therein,” Maynier said at the time.
Alexander Forbes, the pension and employee benefits consultancy earlier last year told the PCODMV the Bill could cost up to R65.2 billion over the lifetime of an estimated 56 000 veterans and their dependents. This could be in excess of another 50 years as the figures show some 50% of the presumed cohort was 23 or younger in 1994. A more conservative estimate put the bill for the Bill at R19.623 billion, roughly the cost of the SAAB Gripen fighter programme. The defence budget, by contrast is some R37 billion. Some of the funds required are also already in the state budget, although under other departments, for example the War Veterans grant allocated in the coming year in the Department of Social Development’s budget “for the men and women who fought in World War II and the Korean War”.
SAPA said another controversy resolved was whether former apartheid-era white and Coloured national servicemen and women would qualify for recognition as military veterans under the Bill and following from this whether they would be entitled to health, housing and pension benefits under the Bill was resolved when Motumi indicated that they would. “The bill is very clear: if they are veterans and they pass the means test, they will,” he told reporters.