Unverified military veterans' database stalling govt attempts to provide them with assistance

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Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
Tebogo Letsie/City Press
  • The government has blamed the unverified military veterans for stalling its efforts to assist the former liberation fighters economically.
  • As a result of the unreliable database, the government claims non-military veterans had benefitted from housing projects earmarked for former liberation fighters. 
  • As a result, Deputy President David Mabuza has called for fast-tracking the database verification process.

The uncorroborated military veterans' database has been cited as being among the main stumbling blocks in government extending assistance to impoverished former liberation fighters. 

This was revealed during a visit by Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans, to Mangaung in the Free State to engage with the provincial government and military veterans associations. 

The meeting, which took place at the Bloemspruit Air Force Base in Mangaung, sought to provide a platform for the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans to give updates and assessments on progress achieved by the government in addressing the challenges facing military veterans. 

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Addressing the gathering, Mabuza said it was essential for the government to know the number of bona fide military veterans, how many had received assistance, and how many still needed government assistance. 

Speaking at the same event, Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, said the unreliable database was hampering her province's attempts to assist military veterans, particularly with housing, as those who were never liberation fighters benefitted from local housing projects at the expense of genuine military veterans. 

"We have built houses in Bloemfontein, Kroonstad, Welkom, Sasolburg, and other towns around the province, but the problem is the data of military veterans because some of the houses have been taken up by those who never fought for this country's freedom under the pretence of being military veterans.

"We have that verified data so that those who unduly benefitted can be forced to return those houses," said Ntombela. 

Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla devoted a large chunk of his time during this week's defence budget vote explaining to the National Assembly (NA) how his department would be "re-establishing the verification process for military veterans". 

"In light of teething problems encountered, the verification team made tremendous progress. In the interest of advancing administrative justice, the PTT [Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans headed by Deputy President David Mabuza] elected to establish an appeals committee of the verification panel to provide recourse for applicants who may not be satisfied with panel rulings," Makwetla said. 

This, after some military veterans challenged the vetting process. 

Mabuza also added during his address on Thursday that veterans should continue with the process and approach the appeals committee should they not be satisfied, as the completion of the verification process was crucial for ensuring that those among them in need benefitted from state projects. 

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Ntombela said another avenue of assisting unemployed veterans was through ensuring that they were employed as security personnel in provincial and municipal government departments. 

She highlighted the provincial department of health as one such department which had been earmarked to employ some of the military veterans. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa set up the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans after veterans marched to his office, demanding that their plight be given serious consideration. 

Disgruntled military veterans also held Makwetla and two other Cabinet ministers hostage last year, demanding that Ramaphosa come in person to listen to their grievances. 

News24 understands that the hostage-taking may have played a role in Thursday's events being held at a military base to ensure that there was no repeat of the incident that unfolded last year. 

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