Military vets not a 'political issue'

2011-08-17 21:41
Cape Town - Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla on Wednesday called for the issue of benefits for military veterans to be separated from the constituency's role in the ANC's last leadership battle in 2007.

"Whether Jacob Zuma became ANC leader at Polokwane or not, this problem was always going to come back to haunt us," Makwetla, himself an MK veteran, said.

Makwetla was responding to accusations by the political opposition that the military veterans bill passed by the National Assembly this week was politically motivated and potentially incendiary because it promised benefits the state could not afford to some 57 000 veterans.

A controversy around the costing of the bill has plagued it since its inception when, in an unprecedented step, it was submitted without Cabinet being briefed about the financial implications.

Makwetla said the department had permission from Cabinet to proceed while it tackled the time consuming task of validating an eight-year old database of veterans.

Unrealistic

Under pressure from lawmakers, defence officials subsequently released an Alex Forbes estimate of R65bn, which Makwetla described as unrealistic because it was arrived at through corporate methodology.

"No government department can work on such a logic. That is not a budget," he said, adding that the figure was aimed at providing full benefits to all veterans for the rest of their lives.

Ultimately, Cabinet approved R1.6bn over the three-year medium term expenditure period for implementing the first stages of the benefits system for needy veterans of the South African Defence Force, the armed liberation movements, and the defunct Bantustan armies.

He said the money would be used to start rolling out benefits that the state could logistically manage as soon as the bill became law.

"There are benefits which we are going to implement because they are easy to do, others are going to require that we get the machinery, in some case at provincial level, in place."

Health care would be among the first benefits the department would provide to veterans because the military had the facilities to do so, and this in fact began a few months ago, he said.

Burying veterans who die destitute was another service the state could proceed with as soon as the bill became law, but transport benefits would take far longer to implement.

The phase-in helped to reduce the cost estimate but the controversy has refused to go away and dominated the debate on the bill in the National Assembly.

It saw an angry exchange between Makwetla and David Maynier from the DA, the only party that voted against the measure.

Scary figure

The deputy minister said Maynier questioned both the costing of the bill and the question of who would benefit because the bill does not appeal to the DA's "mainly white middle class constituency".

"R65bn was a scary figure. But R1.6bn is not, so he has to say it is suspect."

He dismissed Maynier's warnings that the number of beneficiaries could be as high as 850 000, saying the collation of figures was "more or less completed" and remained close to 57 000.

Makwetla insisted that the bill was aimed at "black and white", statutory and non-statutory combatants who found themselves in distress, but not at white SADF conscripts who went on to pursue successful careers after two years of military service.

Their exclusion has contributed to the bill being seen as a reward for veterans of the ANC's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe whose support was crucial in Zuma's accession to the party's presidency.

Makwetla said there were those of all races who did not become part of the post-apartheid armed forces and found themselves in need, but most would be black because payouts for former Apla and Umkhonto we Siswe fighters were smaller than severance packages for SADF soldiers.

"I got R23 000 for 14 years in MK," he said to illustrate the point, before hastily adding that he did not want "to personalise the issue".

He said the department's next task was to get all listed veterans to "come in and give us their details" so that it could collate an electronic database that spells out who needs what.

It will also determine who passes the means test to qualify for benefits. The threshold will be set out in ministerial regulations to be brought to Parliament after the bill is enacted.

- SAPA
Read more on:    thabang makwetla  |  david maynier  |  jacob zuma  |  legislation  |  military
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
8 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.

/Health
 

LOL! Best outdoor girl fails

It’s not only guys who have FAIL moments! Here are some of the funniest outdoor fails where girls are the victims!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

90-year-old's incredible travels
10 facts about swimming you didn't know
Halloween night run
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Customer Experience Advisor

Cape Town
Teleresources Cape Town
R5 000 Per Month

Job: Interactive Web Designer / Developer, Digital Agency, Cape Town, R12k -R20k

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Initiate International
R12 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Office Manager

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Hi-Tech Recruitment - Johannesburg
R15 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be some tension that is caused through social conflicts -- personal interests versus obligations. You may feel an...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.