The Honourable House Chair,
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Honourable Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula,
Honourable Members and guests
This year marks the centenary celebration of the first Commander in Chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the first Commander in Chief of the South African National Defence Force, the late President Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela. The Department of Military Veterans in partnership with other departments plays a greater role and responsibility to ensure the preservation and memorialisation of this rich legacy of humility, perseverance, dedication, selflessness and commitment to serve the people of South Africa.
We commend the role played by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT) in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and our Department in ensuring that posthumously a decent burial is provided and dignity is restored to our military veterans and their families. Because of this character of President Mandela, I hereby dedicate this Budget Vote Speech to the seventeen recently exhumed selfless freedom fighters of Poqo, amongst whom are Vezile Jaxa, Lennox Madikane and Mxolisi Damane who had been hanged and buried as paupers by the heinous apartheid regime.
We remember an outstanding son of this country, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu who displayed an unwavering and loyal dedication to the cause of freedom “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people I love them. They must continue the struggle.” These words express the transformation displayed in the character of this parliament when it resolved to expropriate land without compensation and put mechanisms towards achieving it. We implore all to follow in the footsteps of giants who dedicated their lives to freedom as military veterans that must inspire current and future generations.
We are proud to announce huge improvements made in some benefits, and achieving an unqualified audit opinion. The departmental spend increased in 2017/18 and has reached 97% as opposed to the previous financial years.
Honourable Chairperson, let us recall that in 2014 when we were politically mandated as the Executive to ensure good governance, oversight and provide leadership, the DMV was providing education support to only 200 military veterans and their dependants. We are proud to announce that there has been an exponential increase in the previous financial year. The Department assisted 7712 eligible military veterans and their dependants with Education Support.
Honourable members, this exponential rise poses greater risk to the financial resource base of the department, however, the Department is exploring Inter-Governmental Relations to mitigate this challenge.
Amongst us in the gallery we have 10 graduates, including a military veteran, Mr. Daniel Baadjies who just graduated and achieved his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of Stellenbosch. In the last financial year, this benefit has produced 74 graduates which includes a medical doctor, Dr, Nokuthula Mayaba currently interning at Ngwelezane Hospital. May our graduates please stand up there in the gallery.
Honourable members this benefit has been allocated R145,2 million in the current financial year. The allocated budget is a far cry to the demand for education support faced by the Department.
The health of military veterans is paramount to this administration in ensuring that the military veterans access and receive dignified medical assistance. In the previous financial year, the Department has cumulatively increased access to health services to more than 15000 military veterans through the South African Military Health Services (SAHMS).
In this financial year the benefit has been allocated R64,3 million and it is planned to provide access to health care to17 000 military veterans.
Honourable Chairperson, our country faces the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and military veterans are part of the hard hit by the effects of these challenges to a point that some military veterans die as paupers to this day. It was due to this realisation that a Ministerial intervention established a programme which was not part of the listed benefits in the Act. In the previous financial year, the Department had assisted 2 832 military veterans with this support at an expenditure of R 25,8 million.
This financial year, the allocated budget for SRD has been set at R34 million.
Honourable Chairperson, the Department continues through burial support to ensure military veterans are given the dignity and honour they deserve after fulfilling a higher calling to the country.
The department will in the current financial year as part of the liberation heritage route build memorial sites for the Battle of Mutale, Maseru and Gaborone Massacres to ensure that the memorialisation of this sacred part of our history is conserved.
In pursuance of the noble act for restoring dignity to many forgotten military veterans, the department will facilitate the launch of four (4) books this year from these illustrious military veterans
Mr Themba Dlamini’s Politics is a Dirty Game.
Ambassador Eddie Funde’s A Man with a Mission.
Mr Dan Mdluli’s The Memoirs.
Mr Thami Molotsi’s book’s Unfinished Revolution, Memoirs of an MK Commissar.
Honourable members, this benefit of honouring, memorialisation and burial has been allocated R4.1 million this financial year
Honourable Chairperson, there has been very slow progress in the delivery of housing. The Department has delivered 238 newly built houses and assisted 104 military veterans whose mortgages were in distress to a tune of R13 million.
We are currently engaged in talks with the Department of Human Settlements on how to accelerate the roll-out of houses to military veterans, as well as looking at other models of delivery where possible.
The Housing benefit has been allocated R35 million in this financial year.
Honourable Chairperson, the Department is exploring private-public partnerships with various entities that will take the empowerment of military veterans to another level. This partnership will see military veterans and their dependants empowered through skills development, training and business support.
The Department has set a target of 110 military veterans’ business entities to be supported for this financial year.
The Department will work with National Treasury and its Central Supplier Database to ensure that companies of Military Veterans benefit from their designated status as a priority group in the preferential procurement processes as was pronounced by the Minister of Finance during the MTEF in 2017.
The Department is encouraging and giving business to military veterans and we call on the Department of Defence as a sister department to support businesses of military veterans. This call goes further to all spheres of government in line with IGR Framework and the Treasury Regulations.
We have been constantly engaging provincial and local governments and will enter into written agreements with them to create alternative service delivery models to strengthen service delivery to military veterans. Let us commend the provincial and local governments that have allocated and provided support to the military veterans businesses.
The Empowerment, Skills and Business development benefit has been allocated R50, 3 million for this financial year.
Honourable members, this fifth democratic government has ensured slow but vibrant growth and change in the lives of military veterans. The Department has over time matured and ensured it delivers within its capacity despite the administrative challenges it has had over time.
I would like to thank the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans for her consistent visionary leadership and support since I was appointed Deputy Minister.
To the leadership and staff of the Department of Military Veterans, thank you for your continued support and hard work that is aimed at uplifting military veterans and their dependants.
I would like to thank my wife and family for the continued support that has enabled me to do my work effectively.
Honourable members, I hereby call on you to support this Budget Vote 19 as presented by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.
I thank you