Veterans’ status under the spotlight at indaba


Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appears to have chosen sides with veterans who served in the non-statutory forces before democracy. This week she told a military veterans indaba it was time to ask whether there was a need to redress imbalances and unequal conditions of various categories of veterans “especially those from non-statutory forces”.

She also asked the Boksburg indaba, said to be the first of its kind, whether South Africa’s veterans could be considered “a single homogenous entity” and whether there should be differentiation between a military and a war veteran.

Answers to these and other questions would assist in making the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) work and deliver what veterans needed.

A turnaround programme for the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) was in the pipeline and it will focus on, among others, addressing “structural and policy matters affecting it ability to fulfil its mandate”.

Last year the DMV was named as the lowest performing department in the Public Service by the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration. The DMV had not met 15 of 31 prescribed measurement standards for management practices. This came after submission of its annual report to Parliament was delayed because the chief financial officer had been placed on special leave. Prior to this DMV director general, Tsepe Motumi, and Director General: Corporate Services Lifeni Make, were suspended while an internal forensic investigation was carried out.

Mapisa-Nqakula told the veterans’ indaba there were limitations affecting the DMV’s ability and these need to be addressed urgently.
“We require a frank assessment of the limitations and the organisational and policy contexts within which they have happened. This will allow us to take bold and decisive remedial steps to ensure solutions in the immediate, medium and long term to stabilise the department.”

She also said the DMV should be protected “from the impact of the political dynamics of our past that continue to be relevant in shaping our understanding of the mandate and tasks at hand”.

Last month Motumi said that R78 million had been transferred to the Department of Human Settlements for the “top-up to the construction of about 1, 500 houses for military veterans” in the current financial year.
“We have now turned the corner as the Department of Military Veterans. The provision of benefits to military veterans will be accelerated in a manner unprecedented during the year 2015/16”, Motumi said.

To date, the department has provided education support to almost 4 000 veterans and their dependents and 6 795 veterans have been on the receiving end of healthcare support. He did not divulge the cost of these benefits apart from telling the committee the DMV had spent 91% of its R462 million budget by March 31 this year.