Demand for military veterans' educational benefit almost doubles

2017-01-11 18:14
ANC stalwarts during a media briefing on the proposed consultative conference (Tshidi Madia, News24)

ANC stalwarts during a media briefing on the proposed consultative conference (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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Cape Town - Applications for educational support for military veterans and their dependents have almost doubled for 2017, the Department of Military Veterans has said.

In the 2016/17 financial year, the department supported more than 5 000 beneficiaries, acting director general Max Ozinsky said on Wednesday.

This year it was estimated that the department would provide educational support to approximately 9 000 military veterans and their dependents.

The budget initially set aside for basic and tertiary education for the year was R26.4m, he said.

This had ballooned to R142m, to cover all the applications received for this year.

"Indeed we have made significant strides in ensuring that military veterans and their dependents get quality education as part of the basic constitutional rights and to honour their contribution to the country."

This had presented the department with huge financial challenges, he said, and it was consulting with various stakeholders to find solutions.

In the meantime, the department would continue providing support to military veterans and their dependents for 2017, he said.

Unpaid bills

According to Ozinsky, the department had received 3 800 new applications for both tertiary and basic education across the country.

The department would also continue supporting more than 5 000 beneficiaries who had received support in 2016 and who were continuing with their studies.

He said the budget of R26.4m had proved insufficient, considering the demand.

The department was now working internally to make more money available, in consultation with National Treasury and other stakeholders.

"We have already shifted some money so that we reach a total of about R50m, but we need further shifts."

The department's chief financial officer, Sibongiseni Ndlovu, said one of the major challenges facing the department was settling unpaid bills from the previous financial year.

This amounted to about R50m, he said.

"It means that the budget allocated for this year was probably utilised to pay the bill for the previous year, hence a request has been made for more funds," Ndlovu said.

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