Military veterans deserve our support, says David Mabuza

31 March 2022 - 20:04
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Deputy President David Mabuza says a military veterans bill is being costed.
Deputy President David Mabuza says a military veterans bill is being costed.
Image: GCIS

If SA failed to look after its military veterans, it would be failing as a country. 

This is the view of Deputy President David Mabuza on providing support for those who risked their lives for a democratic SA.

“I think the military veterans deserve to be supported by their government because of the role that they played in the development of the country. If we fail to look after our military veterans, we would be failing as a country.

“We are costing the military veterans bill. There are discussions between the minister of defence and the National Treasury to look at the affordability of all the proposals that we want to incorporate into the bill. This is a positive step,” he said.

Mabuza was answering questions on government help of military veterans during a National Assembly sitting on Thursday.

“This has opened a new chapter in trying to formalise the services that are given to military veterans. I think it was a good idea to create a department for military veterans. It must be supported,” he said.

He told MPs that President Cyril Ramaphosa established the presidential task team on military veterans to ensure urgent and continuous engagement with the community of military veterans, to resolve their grievances.

“The presidential task team has since November 2020 held extensive consultations with different military veterans’ associations. Flowing from these consultations, it became evident that a multifaceted approach that brings different spheres of government to collaborate in accelerating the delivery of benefits to military veterans was necessary. This would ensure that we sufficiently address the grievances of military veterans.”

In advancing this holistic and integrated approach, Mabuza said work streams drawn from a cross-section of government departments and provinces are seized with the task of resolving issues that have been raised by military veterans.

“Among other key issues, this work covers the improvement of socioeconomic conditions, such as education, housing and employment, institutional support, heritage, the legislative review, as well as pension and benefits of military veterans.

“As reported by the president to parliament on November 25, significant progress has been made by respective technical work streams designated to focus on specific challenges.”  

More specifically, he said, the pension and benefits work stream is finalising the pension policy that considers inadequacies that have been identified in the Military Pensions Act 84 of 1976.

“In addition, discussions between the department of military veterans and the Treasury about the provisioning of military pension, as provided for by current legislation, are at an advanced stage.”

Mabuza said the draft actuarial report which is required to support the proposed changes to the pension policy will soon be presented to the executive authorities for consideration.

In relation to the proposed Military Veterans’ Amendment Bill, Mabuza said defence minister Thandi Modise had taken an approach that emphasises the importance of an extensive definition of a military veteran, the qualifying criteria for beneficiaries, and the role and existence of the SA national military veterans' association as a body that manages the affairs of military veterans.

The department of military veterans is in a process of ensuring that all inputs of stakeholders are incorporated into the bill.

“As of March this year, the department has also started working with the government technical advisory centre in preparation for the costing of the implementation of the bill.

“Once all required processes, such as socioeconomic affect assessment system report and certification by the office of the chief state law adviser are complete, the bill will be presented to the cabinet system for approval to solicit public says by the third quarter of 2022/2023.”

He said: “Now there are support services that are being implemented which are prescribed by the current act that we seek to amend. Their dependents are receiving education, support in terms of healthcare and housing, and provinces have gone ahead with building bigger houses.”

Mabuza said what the government does should not be at the behest of the provinces.

“We are trying hard to consult and amend the act and I am sure that so many military veterans would enjoy their pensions, whether statutory or non-statutory veterans.”

He said the vacancies in the department of military veterans were being addressed.

“When we were appointed by the president the first problems we encountered were the shortcomings in the department of military veterans. When we looked at that department there were a lot of vacancies and the capacity of the department was not up to scratch.”

Mabuza said a head of department was recently appointed. “We are trying to fill certain positions and we are looking at the overall organisational design of the department — whether this current design is fit for purpose.”

He said he is waiting for recommendations on how best to reshape the organisational design so that it serves the military veterans.

LISTEN | Mabuza defends his visit to Russia during question time at National Assembly

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