On the 31 August 2016 the Department of Military appeared before the Select Committee on Justice and Security, and briefed members on the state of service delivery to Military Veterans. Lead by DDG Mahapa and DDG Mafu, the Department shared the highlights and challenges experienced by the department in rolling out legislated benefits to Military Veterans.
Amongst the highlights, the department reported on its successful roll-out of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) program which entitles indigent Military Veterans to a monthly stipend of R1, 200.00 to help offset the devastating effects of poverty. To date 1,863 Military Veterans are in receipt of this benefit.
Also the department is successfully funding education of 5,758 Military Veterans and their dependents. In the current financial period, over R35 million already spend. Since the inception of educational funding over, 20 graduates have been produced.
“The Department of Military Veterans was born of the idea to serve Milvets and their families with dignity and compassion” Dr. Mahapa
In terms of the provisioning of Healthcare, the department reported that 15,072 Military Veterans have access to healthcare through the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS). The type of healthcare being provided varies from the most basic primary health care, to highly specialised health services.
Furthermore, the Departments reported on its commitment to improve the quality of life for Military Veterans by pursuing various strategies relating to housing provisioning. Whilst in the past the department had focused on the building of new houses to the homeless, this approach has since been broadened to include offering financial assistance to Military Veterans whose properties are in danger of being repossessed by the banks. To date 130 new houses have been built whilst 33 properties have been rescued. Other interventions being considered include the provision of repairs to dilapidated properties that are owned by Military Veterans.
New partnerships are being considered to accelerate housing provisioning and complement the current housing arrangement between the Department and the Department of Human Settlement.
The Select Committee, chaired by Kgoŝi Thobejane, decried the overall pace of service delivery and noted that in the previous financial year, the department underperformed, failed to achieve its annual performance targets and underspend on its budget.
Concerns were raised that in areas where service is taking place the impact on the lives of recipient has been minimal. The committee pointed out that the 76 houses built for Military Veterans in the Mpumalanga province were of poor quality and unsatisfactory design.
Delays in activating pension benefit, was an area of much frustration for the Committee as well as the inadequate provisioning of counselling services to the Military Veterans and their dependents.
The department took note and acknowledged the concerns of the committee regarding the unsatisfactory state of benefits provisioning as legislated, and committed to review its service delivery models going forward.