Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says that R1.6 billion has been made available to take care of military veterans over the next three years. Sisulu made the announcement to the media ahead of her Budget Vote in Parliament. She added the funds would be “new money” from the National Treasury, rather than a slice of the existing defence budget of R34.6 billion, which she described as “woefully inadequate.”
The state BuaNews agency says She said Cabinet had approved the Military Veterans Bill, which had a funding of R1.6 billion to benefit the veterans. “We had submitted a Bill before Parliament to define military veterans and also define the benefits of military veterans. Cabinet has approved the Bill and the funding. We are today able to assure military veterans that as we complete the process to pay the Non Statutory Pension, we will also be fast tracking the rolling out of all benefits in the Bill,” she said.
A call centre to facilitate easy communication with the veterans would be established at the end of next month. The minister, who was not happy with her budget allocation of R34.5 billion, said the money for the veterans would come from the National Treasury instead of her coffers. Still in a bid to restore the dignity of the veterans, she said it was important that the Department of Military Veterans – to operate under her deputy – was established, and its Director General, along with the senior managers, had also been appointed.
She said that they constantly updated their database of beneficiaries. In order to address “deep rooted grievance management problems” in the SANDF, she said they had introduced a new grievance management policy and a Bill for the Military Ombudsman, which had been approved by Cabinet.
She said that the Ombudsman, who should be appointed by Parliament, would take care of the grievances of the solders, and might need to be someone with a legal and military background to help them understand the matters they would be dealing with.