The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans heard that the Department of Military Veterans experiences numerous challenges in administering benefits to Military Veterans as required by the Military Veterans Act. The department briefed the committee today on its performance regarding the distribution of benefits to military veterans for the 2022/23 financial year.

The department told the committee that it targeted 16 performance areas for benefits in the 2022/23 financial year, but it managed to achieve only five targets, a mere 31% performance according to the department’s rating. The department also administers, under the Military Veterans Act, services to military veterans such as psychological and neuro-psychiatric trauma counselling, and support to those veterans suffering from terminal diseases resulting from participation in military activities.

The committee said it was concerning that out of its 16 targets, the department only managed to achieve five targets. The low performance was in sharp contrast to the department’s 92% expenditure of its allocated budget for 2022/23, indicating a major misalignment in terms of spending and achievements. The committee expressed specific concern that the department continues to underperform in the delivery of housing to military veterans and related socio-economic support programmes.

The department confirmed to the committee that it has had many challenges concerning the distribution of the housing benefits and there were engagements to try to unlock some of the challenges, which include cooperation from provincial departments of Human Settlements.

Some of the challenges highlighted by the department were the occupation of houses meant for military veterans by community members. The department told the committee that only Gauteng and the Eastern Cape provinces have made progress in delivering houses to the military veterans while it faced challenges in other provinces. The department said it managed to successfully secure 90 houses for military veterans across all provinces for the previous financial year, but that was well below the target set for the year.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Cyril Xaba, said: “ We need to know the actual challenges the department is experiencing as there are funds allocated to the department that end up being surrendered to the National Treasury due to failure to deliver services to military veterans.” Mr Xaba added that it was not the first time that the department raises the issue of the non-availability of sites and called for pro-activeness on the part of the department to engage provincial departments of human settlements.

In welcoming the engagement with the department, the committee proposed a follow-up meeting to further discuss in detail issues of housing, the creation of the database, filling of vacancies and bursaries.

Source: Parliament of South Africa