On the first day of public hearings on the Military Veterans Bill, the Committee received submissions from the South African National Military Veterans Association, the Luthuli Detachment, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association, the Cape Corps Foundation and the Council of Military Veteran’s Organisations. Support for the Bill was unanimous.
The submission from the South African National Military Veterans Association focused on the recognition of the Association as the only representative organisation referred to in the Bill. The Association recommended that reference to any other veterans’ organisation was deleted from the Bill and that the functions of the Advisory Council were clearly specified.
Members of the Committee queried the reasons why individual members of the Association had prepared separate submissions. Members asked how many veterans were represented by the Association and what the organisation’s position was on the Advisory Council and on the issue of tenders being reserved for veterans.
The Luthuli Detachment made a verbal submission and expressed general support for the principles of the Bill. The Committee requested that a written submission was forwarded by 12 April 2011.
The Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association suggested that all the member associations of the South African National Military Veterans Association were listed in the Bill. APLAMVA was opposed to any attempt to negate the authority of the individual member organisations. The organisation recommended a skills-training programme for veterans; that the Department of Defence awarded certain contracts to veterans and made funds and land available to veterans for farming purposes; that a quota of tenders were awarded to veteran association companies; that all veterans and their dependants received free medical care at military hospitals; that ex-combatants who were dishonourably discharged were reinstated and that provision was made for an appeal or oversight body in the Bill.
Members of the Committee asked questions to gain clarity on the position of APLAMVA with regard to the South African National Military Veterans Association.
The Cape Corps Foundation was established in 2010 to represent veterans who had served in the Cape Corps of the South African National Defence Force. The Foundation had a current membership of 25,000 former members of the Cape Corps and had applied for membership of the South African National Military Veterans Association. The Foundation claimed that its members had been excluded from qualifying for benefits available to veterans and were sidelined during the integration process. The submission from the Foundation focused mainly on the implementation of the Bill and the provision of benefits to veterans.
Members of the Committee asked questions to obtain clarity on the status of members of the Cape Corps. Members agreed that the Bill should not exclude the Cape Corps and requested additional written information on the Foundation by 12 April 2011.
Twenty veterans’ organisations were members of the Council of Military Veterans’ Organisations. The Council was a member of the South African National Military Veterans Association. The Council submitted detailed comment on the provisions of the Bill. Recommendations were made concerning the definitions of ‘military veteran’, ‘Association’ and ‘dependant’; whether or not benefits were applicable to the dependants of deceased veterans; the inclusion of members of auxiliary services; the recognition of additional categories of military veterans’ organisations; the provisions concerning the South African National Military Veterans Association and suggestions of a technical nature to improve the legibility of the Bill. The Council suggested that the means test was prescribed by regulation and that applicable age criteria were clarified.
Members asked for clarity on the auxiliary forces referred to in the submission, the membership of the Council, the position of the Council on age criteria and if the definition of ‘military veteran’ included members of the Cape Corps.
Submission from the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA)
Mr Kebby Maphatsoe, President, SANMVA presented the submission to the Committee (see attached document).
The Bill included provisions concerning SANMVA, which was formally launched in September 2008 for the purpose of uniting the military veteran communities of South Africa. The Association represented a number of veterans organisations, including the Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (APLAMVA), the Azanian National Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (AZANLAMVA), the Council of Military Veterans Organisations (CMVO), uMkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), the Transkei Defence Force Military Veterans Association, the Bophuthatswana Defence Force Military Veterans Association, the Ciskei Defence Force Military Veterans Association and the Venda Defence Force Military Veterans Association. SANMVA officials were members of the Ministerial Task Team on Military Veterans.
SANMVA commented on the provisions of clause 8 (1) of the Bill and suggested that the statutory provisions concerning the Association were included in a stand-alone section instead of being part of the function of the Director-General. Clause 8 (3) made provision for other military veterans associations and SANMVA suggested this clause was deleted. The Association saw no justification for clauses 9 (1) and 11 (1) and requested clarification from the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on the rationale for these provisions.
SANMVA welcomed the provisions for benefits for military veterans envisaged by the Bill and expressed its support of the Bill.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC) observed that SANMVA claimed to represent the views of all its member associations but separate submissions had been received from some of its member associations.
Mr D Maynier (DA) asked SANMVA to provide further details of the background to the establishment of SANMVA and the number of organisations and veterans represented. He asked for the reason why certain member veteran associations had made separate submissions. He said that it would appear that SANMVA wanted to be the only organisation represented on the Advisory Council, which implied that other veteran associations would be squeezed out. The Council would need independent councilors who were experts in their fields, which was not necessarily available from the ranks of SANMVA.
Ms P Daniels (ANC) asked what SANMVA’s recommendation was concerning the role and function of the Advisory Council. She asked what type of organisation SANMVA was. It was not clear which veteran associations were represented by SANMVA.
Mr Maphatsoe replied that SANMVA was launched in 2008 by the then Directorate for Military Veterans in the Department of Defence. It had been a lengthy process to consolidate the various veterans associations into a single organisation. There was initial disagreement over the constitution of SANMVA and whether the organisation should be unitary or federal in nature. The founding members were APLAMVA, AZANLAMVA, MKMVA, CMVO and the veterans associations of the Bophuthatswana, Venda, Ciskei and Transkei defence forces. Subsequently, an application to join SANMVA was received from the Cape Corps. Individual organisations had made separate submissions in response to the invitation to comment on the Bill issued by Parliament. SANMVA had engaged with its member associations to ascertain that the submission covered their points of view and had obtained their agreement. The exception was the submission from CMVO. SANMVA had changed its earlier recommendation concerning the Advisory Council.
Mr Mbulelo Fihla, SANMVA explained that the organisation was still in the early phase of development. The Association was formed to allow Government to engage with a single entity, rather than with the many individual veterans associations in existence. SANMVA needed to be properly constituted as the organisation received financial support from Government. The members of SANMVA included the seven legally recognised veterans associations plus the Cape Corps.
Mr Fihla said that the Bill was vague on the responsibilities of the Advisory Council and clause 10 merely established the Council. SANMVA had no objection to the Council but its functions have to be defined more clearly. There was no need for any organisation other than SANMVA to look after the interests of military veterans. He stated that there were sufficient skills and expertise available amongst military veterans to serve on the Council.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) requested that Members refrained from asking questions about the internal problems of organisations during public hearings on the Bill.
Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) asked how long it took for applications from veterans associations to be processed. He wanted to know if SANMVA had any objection to being a responsibility of the Director-General of the Department of Military Veterans. He asked if SANMVA had any objection to decisions concerning veterans being made by the Advisory Council, provided that its functions were clarified.
Mr Mlambo was not satisfied by the response provided concerning the separate submission from the CMVO.
Mr Maynier repeated his question on the number of veterans represented by SANMVA. He agreed that the functions of the Advisory Council were not adequately defined in the Bill. He wanted to know why the previous recommendation on the Advisory Council had been changed. He reiterated that the Council would require expert and independent input and cited the example of the Ministerial Task Team, which had submitted a very weak report. He asked what SANMVA’s opinion was of reserving tenders for veterans, given the risk of corruption. One veterans’ organisation had acted as spokesperson for a well-known family involved in Government tenders.
Mr Maziya called a point of order. Members should limit their questions to the submissions.
The Chairperson agreed that was the spirit of the proceedings but allowed that Members needed to ask questions to obtain clarity.
Ms N Mabedla (ANC) asked what SANMVA suggested with regard to the provisions for the Advisory Council.
Mr L Diale (ANC) agreed that Members’ questions should be limited to obtaining clarity and that the organisation should not be interrogated.
Mr Wiseman Mashego, Assistant Director: Legislative Drafting and Memoranda of Understanding, Department of Defence, asked SANMVA to provide more clarity on the final recommendations as more than one submission had been received from the Association.
Mr Maphatsoe replied that SANMVA had participated in the Ministerial Task Team and was the considered to be the umbrella organisation representing military veterans’ associations in terms of clause 8 (1) of the Bill. However, the clause included reference to ‘other military veterans’ organisations’, which were not obliged to join SANMVA in terms of clause 8 (3). SANMVA was a unitary rather than a federal organisation but the provisions in the Bill were contradictory to the intention of having a single representative organisation. The Bill does not prevent a plethora of veterans’ organisations from being formed and such a situation would lead to anarchy. The recognition of SANMVA in the legislation was not clear. SANMVA already existed and clause 9 (2) was ambivalent and unnecessary. SANMVA was the only representative association recognised by the Ministerial Task Team and was supported by Government.
Mr Maphatsoe said that all the military veterans’ associations were experiencing difficulties in compiling accurate, verified data of veterans. He was unable to confirm the number of veterans who were still alive. With regard to the tender issue, he suggested that veterans were considered as a sector or society, similar to that occupied by women and the youth. He said that veterans did not participate in the struggle for freedom for personal gain. Veterans should not be perceived to be recipients of welfare but should be honoured. SANMVA was opposed to fraud and corruption and the organisation was subject to audit by the responsible Department.
Mr Fihla explained that the processing of an application to join SANMVA was dependent on the time it took for outstanding requirements to be received. The constitution of the organisation did not include criteria or standards for joining the organisation. He conceded that the number of veterans’ associations had increased and that some organisations were linked to political parties, which were subject to fragmentation. The Cape Corps was an anomaly as it had been a unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
Mr Fihla said that clause 8 was not acceptable to SANMVA as the status of the organisation was not clearly specified. It would lead to confusion if Government recognised any other veterans’ associations as well. The issues concerning policy and matters of principle were still under discussion and it was acknowledged that there would be some differences of opinion between the various associations.
Mr J Maake, Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence anticipated that the Committee would receive more input on the proposed tender benefit. He suggested that more clarity was provided and that SANMVA specified what percentage of tenders should be reserved for veterans. It was not clear whether SANMVA would be the only veterans’ association recognised in the legislation.
The chairperson thanked SANMVA for the submission.
Submission from the Luthuli Detachment
General Sandi Sijake, President, Luthuli Detachment delivered a verbal submission to the Committee. The Luthuli Detachment welcomed the Bill as it would assist in addressing the inequalities of the past. The provision of benefits to dependants of veterans was welcomed as well but he pointed out that illegitimate children enjoyed the same recognition as legitimate children in African cultures.
The Luthuli Detachment was aware of SANMVA but no engagement with the Association had taken place. It was hoped that the Bill was a uniting instrument. It was conceded that too many structures intended to benefit the people had been abused. The abuse of Government tenders had been detrimental rather than beneficial.
Major General Zola Nqose commented on the value of questions asked by members of opposition parties to the ruling party in a democratic South Africa.
Mr Mphahlele thanked the Luthuli Detachment for reminding the Members of the ideals of the struggle for freedom. He observed that the struggle for land dated back to 1652.
Mr Mlambo and Mr Maake also thanked the Luthuli Detachment for their input. Mr Maake requested specific comment on the Bill.
Mr Maynier said that the Committee acknowledged that many veterans were in dire straights and realised that it was necessary to provide assistance. He asked for an explanation of the comment made during the submission that many veterans paid a portion of their pensions to the Government. He asked for the view of the Luthuli Detachment on reserving tenders for veterans. He asked if the liberation movements felt let down by the ANC.
Gen Sijake replied that the ANC stood for all the people. Members of Parliament were elected to serve the people, regardless of their political affiliation. The liberation struggle was fought for all South Africans and the freedom fighters were entitled to a share of the wealth of the country. The Luthuli Detachment welcomed the opportunity to submit a more detailed written input on the Bill in due course.
Gen Sijake said that the Luthuli Detachment would like to see that as many veterans as possible benefited from Government tenders. The issue was that the process of awarding tenders had to be transparent and that the responsible authority was held accountable.
Maj Gen Nqose agreed with Gen Sijake’s response.
Mr Diale asked what the relationship was between the Luthuli Detachment and SANMVA.
Maj Gen Nqose explained that the Luthuli Detachment comprised the cream of the MKMVA force. All the veterans’ associations should be included and consulted on matters affecting veterans.
Gen Sijake advised that members of the organisation were kept informed of issues affecting veterans. The input made by the members was considered. He confirmed that there had been no interaction between the Luthuli Detachment and SANMVA.
The Chairperson thanked the Luthuli Detachment for the submission and requested that a written submission was forwarded to the Committee by 12 April 2011.
Submission from the Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (APLAMVA)
Mr William Sibeko, Chairperson, APLAMVA presented the submission to the Committee (see attached document).
APLAMVA suggested that the Bill recognised the member associations of SANMVA and acknowledged the authority of the individual associations. Concerns were raised over the constitution of SANMVA.
APLAMVA considered ex-combatants to be unemployable and suggested that skills-training was provided to veterans to allow them to become self-employed. It was suggested that the Department of Defence (DOD) awarded certain contracts to veterans and made funds and land owned by the DOD available for farming purposes. A quota of tenders should be awarded to veteran association companies.
APLAMVA suggested that all veterans and their dependants received free medical care at military hospitals. Ex-combatants who were dishonourably discharged should be reinstated.
The Eastern Cape branch of APLAMVA suggested that the Advisory Council was composed of the Director-General and representatives from each military veteran’s organisation. The branch was critical of the lack of progress made since the Joint Standing Committee on Defence had held public hearings on veterans in 2007 and the slow implementation of the special pensions for veterans.
Mr Mudini Maihva, National Secretary affirmed that APLAMVA was opposed to any attempt to negate the authority of the individual military veterans’ associations. The associations were the only entities in a position to verify the status of veterans. He said that there were defects in the organisation of SANMVA and many veteran organisations had not been consulted over the submission on the Bill. Clause 8 of the Bill should specify which veterans’ associations were represented by SANMVA. The Bill should make provision for an appeal or oversight body as well.
Ms Daniels asked if APLAMVA was concerned over the autonomy of SANMVA.
Mr Mlambo asked if APLAMVA agreed with the provisions in the Bill in respect of the Advisory Council.
Mr Maake asked if SANMVA or its member associations were considered to be the primary body.
Mr Maihva replied that the veterans’ associations represented the previous military formations and were the primary sources of data on the veterans. APLAMVA felt that the individual associations must be recognised in the Bill. The Advisory Council had to be in place but SANMVA was a relatively new organisation and it was necessary to align its responsibilities with the Advisory Council to ensure that there was no conflict. The veterans’ associations had allegiances with certain political parties and could trace their members. Veterans approached their veterans’ association in the first instance for assistance and all these organisations had to be given recognition. APLMVA disagreed that SANMVA should receive more recognition than the individual organisations but acknowledged that all the veterans’ associations should speak with one voice. SANMVA should be properly constituted, be held accountable and its legal and moral obligations must be clearly specified.
The Chairperson thanked APLAMVA for the submission.
Submission from the Cape Corps Foundation (CCF)
Mr John de Jongh, Chairperson, CCF presented the submission to the Committee (see attached document). The Foundation was established in July 2010 and represented former members of the Cape Corps. The current membership was 25,000 and the CCF was represented in all nine provinces.
The Foundation supported the Bill and urged the Committee to ensure that it was enacted as soon as possible. The CCF commented on the omission of a commencement date for the Bill and suggested that timeframes for the establishment of the Advisory Council and for the completion of the needs assessment of veterans were determined. The CCF suggested that the degree of communication and consultation with veterans in the remote areas of the country was increased.
The needs of veterans and the benefits provided in terms of the Bill should be prioritised to allow the DMV to provide assistance to the neediest recipients. Significant resources would be required and a number of Government Departments would be involved in providing the proposed benefits and more clarity and communication were necessary on who would have overall responsibility for delivery. The input of dependants of military veterans on the Bill should be invited. The members of the Advisory Council should have the necessary knowledge and expertise and the Bill should be more specific on the appointment of members and the composition of the Council.
Ms Daniels understood that the members of the CCF had served in the SANDF. She asked why the number of members continued to increase.
Mr Maziya asked why the organisation was only established in 2010.
Mr Maake observed that the CCF had commented on the actual implementation of the Bill rather than on the provisions of the Bill. He asked if the CCF agreed with the content of the Bill.
Mr Mlambo pointed out that the Bill made no mention of payments to veterans and the reference to payments in the submission was therefore erroneous. He suggested that separate public hearings were held for the submissions from dependants of veterans.
Mr Mphahlele asked for more information on the establishment of the CCF. He understood that the Cape Corps was the former coloured unit of the SANDF. He was surprised that the number of members was increasing as the membership of veteran organisations tended to decline as members passed away. He asked if the CCF had verifiable and accurate records of members.
Mr De Jongh replied that he had briefed the Committee in 2001 on the plight of the members of the Cape Corps. The members of the Cape Corps had been marginalised during the process of integrating the liberation forces into the SANDF. The CCF was established as a non-profit organisation to represent the members of the Cape Corps who had failed to gain recognition as an integral component of the SANDF. The Cape Corps was a fighting component of the SANDF but had been abandoned and marginalised by the SANDF since 2001.
The Chairperson asked why the Cape Corps was not recognised as a part of the SANDF. He asked if the CCF was established in defiance of the SANDF.
Mr De Jongh replied that the members of the CCF were former members of the SANDF but had been let down by the Defence Force. The CCF was formed to pursue the interests of its members.
Mr Mlambo said that the Committee had a responsibility to investigate the position of the Cape Corps. It was clear that the members of the unit were excluded from the integration process.
Ms Daniels was unclear on whether or not the members of the Cape Corps were a part of the SANDF. She asked if these members had been forced out of the SANDF and if they had forfeited the benefits they were entitled to.
The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the comment that the members of the Cape Corps had been ‘sidelined by the SANDF generals’.
Mr Mphahlele was not satisfied with the response on the historical background of the CCF. He asked if the organisation had any white or black members.
Mr De Jongh replied that the Cape Corps was excluded from the integration process during 2001. Members living on army bases had their electricity supply disconnected, their salaries were not paid and they were forced to leave the base under duress. The families of members were broken up and suffered as a result. Former members of the Cape Corps decided to form their own organisation to represent their interests. The membership numbers were increasing as former members became aware of the CCF and submitted membership applications.
Mr Maziya thanked the CCF for the submission and said that the issue of the Cape Corps needed further consideration. He asked that the Foundation provided more information to the Committee on the profile of the entity.
Mr Maake observed that the situation of the Cape Corps differed from the veterans’ organisations of the liberation forces. It was essential that the Bill did not exclude this category of veterans and the issue had to be addressed.
Mr De Jongh thanked the Committee for the opportunity to make the submission on the Bill. He pleaded with the Members to ensure that the plight of the former members of the Cape Corps received continued attention.
The Chairperson thanked the CCF for the submission and requested that the profile of the organisation was forwarded to the Committee by 12 April 2011.
Submission from the Council of Military Veterans Organisations (CMVO)
Legionnaire Godfrey Giles, Chairperson, CMVO advised that the Council represented twenty military veterans’ organisations, including the SANDF. The CMVO was a founding member of SANMVA and supported the Association.
Rear-Admiral (Ret) Lukas Bakkes, General Secretary, CMVO presented the submission from the Council (see attached document).
The CMVO suggested that the definition of ‘Association’ in clause 1 was expanded to reflect the status of SANMVA. The definition of ‘dependants’ did not make it clear whether or not the dependants of deceased veterans were included. The definition of ‘military veteran’ should list all the statutory and non-statutory organisations involved in the South African liberation war from 1960 to 1994. Previous members of existing and former auxiliary services should be included as well. The submission included detailed suggestions on the phrasing of the definition of ‘military veteran’.
The submission expanded on the recognition of all military veterans’ organisations. The Bill of Rights allowed veterans to belong to any organisation and this right should be retained. Provision should be made for future veterans’ organisations to be recognised as well.
The means test referred to in clause 3 should be prescribed. No provision was made for an age threshold to be applicable. The criteria for the database referred to in clause 7 should be specified and the Department should be required to verify the eligibility of a person to be granted veteran or dependant status. The verification process should be auditable. Additional technical recommendations were made to improve the language used in the Bill.
Ms Daniels asked if all the member organisations of the Council supported the submission. She queried the inclusion of age criteria in the Bill as many young persons had been members of the liberation forces.
The Chairperson understood that SANMVA was a unitary rather than a federal type of organisation.
Mr Mphahlele asked how many veterans were represented by the CMVO. He agreed that the members of the auxiliary forces should be included, for example the Cape Corps and members of Koevoet should not be excluded from qualifying for benefits.
Mr Maake asked for clarity on the auxiliary forces referred to and what the legal status was of these forces. He pointed out that there was international condemnation of the use of children in acts of war. He asked what the difference was between ‘commemorating’ and ‘memorialising’.
Mr Maynier asked how the prescription of the means test would be applied. He wanted to know what the position of the CMVO was on the issue of age. The CPR data provided indicated that 25% of members of the liberation forces were 15 years or younger in 1994, which raised questions about the integrity of the data. He asked if the definition of ‘military veteran’ covered members of the Cape Corps as well.
Mr Maake asked what the difference was between the CCF and the Cape Corps.
Mr Maynier advised that the Cape Corps was included in the policy document of the Department of Defence.
Lgr Giles replied that members of the CMVO were not compelled to remain members of the organisation. The Council did not have individual members and represented 20 organisations. The SANDF veteran membership was estimated to be between 650,000 and 700,000 individuals. The membership of older organisations was declining, for example the SA Legion originally had 56,000 members but currently only a few thousand were alive. Membership of veteran organisations was considered to be beneficial and it was anticipated that membership numbers would increase. He advised that Koevoet was a part of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the former members of the unit were not classified as military veterans.
Adm Bakkes advised that the age issue was extensively debated during the drafting of the Military Veterans Act of 1999. The Act provided for female veterans to qualify for benefits from age 55 and male veterans from age 60. It was not clear if age criteria would be applicable or if the Bill would be open-ended in this regard. A prescribed means test meant that the applicable criteria would be prescribed by regulation.
Adm Bakkes explained that the SANDF comprised regular, reserve and auxiliary forces. The auxiliary forces were generally support staff, for example guards, nursing staff and other personnel performing the more menial tasks. Members of the auxiliary forces were regarded as a vulnerable group and should not be excluded from qualifying for benefits.
Adm Bakkes said that there were approximately 21,000 members of the Cape Corps in 1994. Members served in fourteen different forces. The contracts of certain Cape Corps members had expired in 1994 and were not renewed. The definition of ‘military veteran’ included members of the Cape Corps and accurate data was available on who had served at what time and at what location. He agreed that the Committee was correct in taking the Cape Corps into consideration for purposes of the Bill. Membership of veterans’ organisations was voluntary, many organisations were NGO’s and it must be assumed that new organisations would be established in future. The difference between ‘memorialising’ and ‘commemorating’ was a matter of semantics but ‘commemorating’ was more appropriate in the context of the Bill.
Mr De Jongh stated that he was in a better position than Adm Bakkes to comment on the Cape Corps.
Mr Mphahlele called a point of order. Another presenter should only comment if expressly invited to do so by the Committee.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mphahlele’s statement.
Mr Mlambo said that the Committee had received the submission form the CCF and accepted that the members of the Cape Corps had experienced victimisation.
Mr M Nhanha (COPE) appealed to the veterans’ organisations to work together instead of competing for turf.
The Chairperson thanked the CMVO for the submission. He advised that the Veterans Trust had requested that the organisation’s submission was postponed to a later date.
Mr Tsepe Motumi, Director-General, Department of Military Veterans expressed appreciation for the submissions received from the veteran’s organisations. The Department would consider all the submissions and would be briefing the Committee on its response as required by procedure.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Veterans Trust submission
- South African National Military Veterans Association submission
- Council of Military Veteran’s Organisations of the RSA, 9 March 2011 submission Part 2
- Council of Military Veteran’s Organisations of the RSA, 9 March 2011 submission Part 1
- Cape Corps Foundation submission
- APLA Military Veterans Association submission
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