- The government is making promises of housing and land for military veterans.
- This comes after two cabinet ministers and a deputy minister were held hostage by disgruntled military veterans.
- Military veterans are becoming more and more impatient with the government over benefits and monetary payouts.
Land for farming and houses, education for their children, presidential pardons, and expungement of criminal records.
These are just some of the government's benefits for the nation's war veterans amid growing dissatisfaction over benefits.
On Friday, the presidential task team (PTT) on military veterans detailed the steps it's taking after a group of war veterans were arrested after allegedly holding Minister in the Presidency Mondli Ngungubele, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla hostage during a meeting at the St Georges Hotel.
At least 56 people were arrested after the police's Special Task Force swooped in.
According to a statement by the PTT, several initiatives have been put in place with clear timelines:
- A draft bill to amend the Military Veterans Act to deal with some of the discrepancies in the bill such as the definition of the Military veteran;
- Provisions of healthcare benefits to the dependents of military veterans, and means tests criteria;
- The review of the Special Pension Act and development of the pension policy;
- Work on the Presidential pardons and expungement of criminal records on some of the members;
- Social relief of distress and housing for their members;
- Involvement of some of the members in the socio-economic activities;
- Repatriation of the remains of military vets, and the erection of monuments in host countries;
- Support on the education of the children of the combatants;
- Provision of land for farming and human settlement.
President Cyril Ramaphosa established the PTT to address the issues raised by veterans.
"The President assigned the Deputy President David Mabuza to lead this task team. As early as November and December 2020, the Deputy President held extensive discussions with the military veterans and their associations to assess and hear their grievances. The result was the development of a consensus document which laid out a series of mutually agreed areas needing attention," the statement read.
According to the PTT the issue of housing remains ongoing.
"The DMV has noted the matter of dealing with mortgage bonds above the department threshold. The issue is addressed in the draft amendment Bill. The department of military veterans will comply with the policy of human settlement through the MoU review process, which is currently advanced," the statement read.
IFP MP and party spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it was "extremely regrettable" that not one but two ministers found themselves in this situation.
"If one considers both the VIP Protection afforded to Ministers, as well as the role and responsibility of the intelligence services, this incident should never have occurred. Further, questions must be asked as to who these 'military veterans' are: whose interests do they represent and what are their grievances - which they felt were serious enough to risk going to jail for," he said.
Hlengwa said the public deserves a full account of what transpired behind closed doors.
"Tragically, this incident once again highlights the complete incompetence of South Africa's intelligence services under the ruling party," Hlengwa said.
Cyril Xaba, the chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, denounced the actions of the group of military veterans.
"While we are aware and note the challenges faced by military veterans, especially regarding the inadequacies with the DMV, we remain unambiguously in opposing coercion and violence as a means to resolve these challenges," Xaba said.