Department fails to house veterans

By Drum Digital
06 September 2016

The Department of Military Veterans has come under fire for failing to deliver the 3 000 houses it promised to build for veterans in the last financial year.

By Aphiwe Boyce

It has come to light that the department has built only 41 houses, and was forced to return R150 million of its allocated budget of R163 million to the National Treasury.

Kgoshi Setlamorago Thobejane, who chairs Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Justice, called on Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula to account for this.

“The department’s inability to provide adequate services and the support it has been established to offer to military veterans cannot be tolerated – and as legislators we need responses from the executive authority in this regard,” Thobejane said.

The houses were meant for veterans who are not receiving a pension from the state and whose annual income doesn’t exceed R125 000.

Impoverished military veteran Sindile Vundle (59), from Ngqeleni in the Eastern Cape, said he’s been waiting for a house for a long time, and former liberation fighters like himself have been neglected by the department President Jacob Zuma established in 2009 to take care of their needs.

“My elder brother – a pensioner – and his family are taking care of me. They have provided me with a shelter. They buy me food and they can only do that much.

“We have been neglected by the department; they are doing nothing for us. I am just sitting here waiting for the day I go to the grave,” Vundle said.

Department of Military Veterans spokesperson Mbulelo Musi blamed the lack of delivery of houses on understaffing.

“We have noted the concerns and we know the challenges that we are facing in terms of giving support to the military veterans. We have been understaffed in our management level; we had no director general, no chief financial officer and many management posts were vacant,” Musi said.

“We are also a young department with only five years. We are in formative years and have to deal with this historical issue.”

But he said the housing issue needs to be addressed by the Department of Human Settlements. “We only top up the amount of cash used in building a house,” he said.

However, Thobejane is not impressed with the excuses the veterans department has provided.

“They say they don’t have capacity to perform their work,” he said. “For them not having the director-general should not be a problem. The minister must appoint one.”

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