The Deputy Minister of Defence was asked to explain recent media reports involving contempt of court, and explained that this had arisen from an action brought by the Military Skills Development System recruits, who attempted to gain permanent employment when advising that their contracts would not be reviewed. A judgment, later appealed by the Department of Defence, had been handed down whilst the Department’s legal representatives were not present, and a contempt of court application was set aside on 2 July when it was realised that the matter was under appeal. The appeal was due for hearing on 22 July. In the meantime, the Director General was placed on special leave, an Acting Director-General had been appointed, and was dealing with audit queries.
The Department of Military Veterans (DMV), with input also from the Deputy Minister, presented the strategic and Annual Performance Plan for the 2014/15 year, summarising also some aspects of performance in the previous years. Although the Department was in existence, this was the first year that it had received an allocation that would enable it to address its strategic plans, and the relevant regulations permitting it to make payments had been gazetted. It operated under three main programmes, subdivided into several sub-programmes and the budget allocations and some of the priorities were outlined for each. The current budget was skewed to the Administration programme, to ensure that infrastructure was in place for the Department to provide services to military veterans. Provincial offices were being set up, and other programmes included database management, healthcare and wellbeing support, social economic support management, empowerment and stakeholder programmes, and programmes for heritage, memorials, burials and honours. Its plans were aligned to the National Development Plan and the Forum of South African Directors-General, and it was trying to improve its performance.
Members had numerous concerns arising out of the plans. Although none of the Members mentioned this earlier, the Chairperson pointed out that the plans did not specifically track alignment to government priorities. Members were particularly worried whether the DMV could achieve its targets, with particular concerns being expressed about the security and veracity of the database on which all services would be based. They doubted whether, given the lack of positive action over the last 20 years, some of the targets could be achieved over the next three years. They questioned what criteria had been used to make payments, given that so many people were not on the database, whether registration was sufficient without inclusion on that database and how the payments were made prior to the regulations being in force. They asked why some targets that had appeared in previous plans were no longer mentioned, or why the allocations had fallen, and called for an explanation on what the DMV was doing to continue the work. They questioned the apparent duplication between some items in head and provincial offices and questioned whether it was in fact correct to set up provincial offices, or whether a greater spread and outreach could be achieved in another way, particularly recommending that services be offered at local level. They wanted clarification, amongst others, on amounts budgeted for laboratory and health services, accommodation, printing and stationery, catering, travel and subsistence, particularly in view of the small staff contingent. They called for lists of beneficiaries, and what services had been offered to them. They questioned the funded posts and filling of vacancies. Further questions were asked as to whether the DMV was helping to relieve unemployment amongst veterans, what it was doing for education, recognition of prior learning, support for economic development, how it was collaborating with other departments and with whom it had entered service level agreements. Noting that several of the priorities mentioned in the last year had not been met, they questioned whether there were plans to continue with projects into the current year.
Minister’s briefing on recent media reports
The Chairperson requested the Deputy Minister of Defence to clarify recent media reports about the arrest of the Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and to clarify to the Members his position as the President of the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA).
Mr Kebby Maphatsoe, Deputy Minister of Defence, responded that the issues related to the Military Skills Development Services (MSDS) members. They had been on a two-year contract, ending in 2012 and had been informed around February that their contracts would not be renewed. They took the Department of Defence (DOD) to court, on the basis that they wished to be employed permanently.
The State Attorney for the Department was not present at the hearing and the court ruled that these MSDS members should be permanently employed. However, the DOD then appealed that ruling, on the grounds that the Court should not have so ruled while the Department had not been legally represented and was not aware of the proceedings. The Department also sought to give a full explanation to the court as to why the DOD was not ready to employ the MSDS members permanently. The matter was set down for hearing on 22 July 2014.
In the meantime, however, the MSDS members brought application claiming contempt of court by the DOD, on the basis that it was in contempt of the order of court. On 2 July 2013, the DOD brought an application to court to set side the contempt of court order, which was granted.
The Director General was at the moment on special leave. The Deputy Director General was also on leave. Investigations were pending. The Acting Director General, who was also Chief Financial Officer, had been out of office on sick leave, but was now back in office and was dealing with the audit report. Although the acting position was initially until 30 June, the Department had taken steps to ensure that the acting appointment was filled until that report was finalised.
The current Chief Financial Officer of the DOD was on sick leave till August. When the report was prepared he was not present.
Department of Military Veterans Annual Performance Plan 2014/15: briefing
Ms Mabel Rantla, Deputy Director-General, Department of Military Veterans, noted that she would give an overview of the Annual Performance Plan for the Department of Military Veterans (DMV or the Department) for 2014/15, which had initially been tabled to Parliament on 12 March 2014.
The Department aimed to revise its legislative mandate, by amending the Military Veterans Act in relation to benefits provisioning based on the Military Veteran Benefits Regulations 2014. It also aimed to strengthen service delivery to military veterans and their dependants. Furthermore the Department would focus on the finalisation and approval of major service delivery policies, including the Public Transport Support for military veterans, military veterans’ Social Relief of Distress, military veterans’ pensions, military veterans’ heritage and stakeholder management.
She outlined the organisational structure and legislative structures (see page 11 of the attached document), and drew attention to the team that was to deliver on the mandate. The DMV legislative structures were intended to support the Department in its service delivery to military veterans and also ensured monitoring of the work of the department.
Ms Rantla explained that there were eight executive priorities:
1- Ensuring a fully functional DMV with an independent budget vote and systems of governance and service delivery
2 - Provision of social relief of distress to the most vulnerable Military Veterans especially those military veterans
3 - Providing comprehensive support services to Military Veterans and where applicable to their dependants, including education, training and skills development; health care and a wellness centre; access to health support; subsidization or provisioning of public transport; housing and burial support
4 - Promoting empowerment programs for Military Veterans. This fiscal year would be characterised by initiatives that would be aggressively pursued to embrace widening of access to economic participation to Military Veterans. The initiatives would entail facilitation of preferential procurement mechanism for military veterans through the DMV itself and other social partners within and outside government. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company would be set up to provide incubator programmes designated for Military Veterans. The DMV would facilitate employment placement opportunities and advice on business opportunities.
5 - Promotion of military veterans’ heritage as well as memorialising and honouring of the military veterans. This would include the establishment of a “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”; restoration of .
graves of the liberation war military veterans; establishment of a heroes’ and heroines’ acre.
6 - Strengthening governance and monitoring protocols to give effect to the provisions of the Act. The four organs of the state created by the Act that reported to the executive authority were the South African National Military Veterans Association (the umbrella Association), the Advisory Council, Appeals Board and Audit Committee.
7 - Maintenance of a credible and secure national Military Veterans database
8 - Implementation of a high impact communication and marketing strategy and plan
Ms Rantla described the DMV’s contribution to the National Development Plan (NDP), saying that the DMV would support its goals and priorities and highlighted how the executive priorities complemented various statements in the NDP (see pages 15 to 17 of attached presentation)
Furthermore, DMV contributed to the Forum of South African Directors-General (FOSAD) and would, amongst others:
- Ensure that the performance agreement of the Accounting Officer was signed by the Executive Authority and submitted to the Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC)
- Develop, approve, effectively implement and monitor the Service Delivery and Improvement plan for the Department and submit to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on time.
- Ensure that feedback on all cases from the National Anti–Corruption Hotline was provided and all cases concluded within the stipulated period determined by OPSC.
- Maintain the current status of obtaining unqualified audit outcomes with no matters of emphasis
- Ensure that all financial disclosures of senior managers were concluded and that copies were filed with the Office of the OPSC.
-Ensure that cases from the Presidential Hotline were resolved.
-Submit the exception reports on 30–day payment to suppliers to National Treasury, according to the Instruction Note issued in November 2011.
She then outlined the steps to improve management practices, through the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT), saying that DMV would focus on improving internal controls, by putting into operation the DMV Integrated Strategic Management System to improve the effectiveness of strategic planning process, risk management, strategic budgeting as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. It would ensure that critical programmes of service delivery and administration would be conducted internally and within the National Evaluation Plan and Framework. DMV would ensure the development and approval of human resource policies and strategies, and would ensure effective implementation of the FOSAD plans. Some of this would happen after the Management Performance Assessment Tool was submitted in September.
Financial allocations to the DMV programmes (MTEF)
Ms Rantla provided a breakdown of the financial allocation to benefits (see pages 21 to 29).
She noted that the allocation for 2014/15 was R504.2 million, divided between Programme 1: Administration (R 178.2million), Programme 2: Socio-Economic Support (R168.1million), Programme 3:
Empowerment and Stakeholder Management (R157.9 million), and explained that the administration programme currently received a bigger allocation because this was a new department, that, over the past year, required establishment and equipping of office premises, and the required infrastructure will be going into social economic support services and empowerment. Broken down by economic classification, compensation of employees received R92.2 million, Goods and Services (including benefits provisions funds) received R404 million and payment for capital assets R7.9 million.
A full breakdown of the split into sub programmes was set out on pages 24-27 of the attached presentation.
Ms Rantla noted that the DMV target was to provide healthcare services to 7000 military veterans, housing for 1 000 military veterans and training and skills development for 2 500. It intended to erect two Veteran Memorial sites. It aimed to establish private / public partnerships with ten private sector companies and organs of state.
For each of the programmes, she then highlighted the core focus areas, and highlighted that good governance was a priority under Programme 1. Performance indicators were given on slides 36 and 37.
She noted that the first ever benefits allocation made by National Treasury was in 2013/14 but these funds were not accessed by DMV prior to approval of the Regulations for Delivery under the Military Veterans Act, which were approved and gazetted on 19 February 2014.
2014/15 would be the first year in which DMV could implement its Annual Performance Plan without financial constraints, now that the regulations and budget allocations were in place, even though the allocations were not sufficient to perform all the work. Because it had been twenty years that military veterans had been waiting for service delivery, there was an urgent need to accelerate service delivery and this would imply concomitant allocations of funding. The reality was that for now, only certain services could be provided, and some may still wish to have benefits, but those most in need would be covered first. It was likely that the DMV would be requesting further allocations particularly around cost of benefit provisioning. She asked that the Committee support the DMV on the need to accelerate service delivery, to move South Africa forward and to enhance radical socio–economic transformation within the military veterans’ sector
Mr S Esau (DA) raised a concern about changes within the sub programmes and targets. He understood the shortage of money, and asked what impact it had on the shifting of targets. He said that he was not sure that the planning going on since 2009, to move to this point, was adequate. He had a serious problem on some of the changes in the sub-programmes.
Mr Esau also noted that the data base was not as credible or secure as it should be. Many complaints were voiced from members that they were not receiving benefits. He questioned the status of the CPRs. He asked about members who had signed up again, who did not go through the normal Association route, and asked if their applications had been processed and verified, because a number of them still awaited appeal outcomes. He noted that there was not sufficient capacity in the DMV to deal with all concerns. Only 14 000 were verified on the database, a very small number.
Mr Esau wanted to know the criteria for issuing benefits already prior to the gazetting of regulations, an who the beneficiaries had been. There was tension created when some received benefits and others did not. He also said that although there was a target to complete the database by 2016/17, he doubted if it would be done, given the lack of progress over the last 20 years.
Mr Esau highlighted the funded posts information, saying the statistics were confusing, as there was no indication of who was working and what was outstanding and it seemed that the DMV was relying on consultants to do the work that officials should be doing. Given the high numbers of unemployed people in the country, and the NDP priorities to reduce poverty and create jobs and opportunities, he wondered why the posts had not been filled, given that there were qualified people to do the job. He asked if the cost benefit analysis on consultants had been done.
Mr Esau wanted clarity on what laboratory services entailed. He asked for further explanation on travel and subsistence, saying that this was a large amount for such a small staff of 67. He commented that there was much money also set out for different consumables, and inventories. Mr Esau further pointed to costs for “catering and entertainment” and said that military veterans were not interested in an occasional outing or meal; they wanted income to support their families. These were the people who fought for freedom and were being neglected.
Mr Esau noted that military veterans were complaining that they were not being kept informed on a regular basis of programmes in the DMV.
Mr Esau noted, under rental and hiring of equipment, that the premises had to be furnished under Programme 1, but wondered why, when there were only 15, then 29, then 45 members of staff, so much was invested in furniture and equipment, and what was really used. Similarly, he was concerned about a high budget for stationery and printing when there were limited staff.
He commented that last year it was said that there would be provincial offices, but this was only rolled out in this year. He wanted to know when this would be done, and if the local government and provincial government had been contacted or consulted to assist. He would like to see less paid out on administration and more on services, with a spread wider than one provincial office. Many veterans lived in rural areas, and did not even have the money to visit a town to make enquiries or applications, which meant that it should happen at local level to make the services accessible. He wanted to know why office accommodation and provincial office accommodation appeared under Programme 1 and 3, and asked if this was a duplication.
Mr Esau commented that the research and policy development sub programme was one of the key priorities in the Department, yet no longer appeared, and he asked if it had been moved elsewhere.
Mr Esau also commented on the removal of the budget for a wellness centre; previously R10 000 was allocated for establishment of a centre last year, which was not done.
In relation to Medal Parades, Mr Esau said that the report by the Minister had given a firm indication that there would be no more honouring. There were three parades at a cost of R46 million and there was an indication that other non statutory forces and other veterans would be accommodated; the budget later decreased. Burial support was removed as a target, but a large amount of money was allocated last year, and he wondered if it could be accessed if people were not yet on the database. He questioned whether it was correct that as long as they were registered and had a force number they did not have to be on the database.
Mr Esau commented that last year, budget had been provided for Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs); it seemed that twelve were concluded, with government entities, not business. He asked what was outstanding. There was an indication that there are 10 companies that will come onboard that will have agreements in terms of rolling out business opportunities and advice to military veterans.
Mr Esau said that last year, under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), certificates were promised to veterans. This did not appear in this year’s budget and he asked what had been done. Those with skills, knowledge and expertise had to be able to have this assessed and credited. University of the Western Cape was one of the institutions that was championing the cause of RPL to assist the disadvantaged. The Department needed to work closely with the higher education institutions in order to give support to the military veterans.
Mr Esau asked for clarity on the figure showing 3% reduction of employment, and what this was based upon, and asked if the DMV knew how many veterans were actually unemployed, because he did not think this would be verifiable through the database.
Mr Esau commented that the satisfaction survey was an in house arrangement, and he would rather like to see an independent survey conducted, as most veterans at this moment were not happy, and the survey probably was not a true reflection of what the Department was doing for them.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) thanked the Department for showing respect to the Committee by bringing a full management team.
He suggested that the concluding remarks should rather have formed the introduction, as they outlined the position in 2012/13, prior to allocations. He acknowledged that the department had two months to allocate the resources and therefore could not do what it was supposed to do in the previous financial year, but said that now that DMV had the money; it was to be held to account on the APP for 2014/15, and fulfil its work.
The Chairperson asked whether the vacancies ion the organisation structure were filled. He asked when the service delivery priorities would be finalised and asked what Priority 8: the Marketing Plan comprised.
Ms Rantla noted the advice that the conclusion should in future be used upfront because it set the scene for the presentation. She would give an overview, and individual team members would speak to individual questions. Overall she noted that the indicators in the Departmental APP were high level indicators but there were programmes ad subprogrammes also to be considered, which contained more detailed indicators on allocations and targets and plans. The bulk of the indicators not mentioned in the overall Departmental framework would be noted be under the individual programmes and subprogrammes. When the Department gave quarterly reports it would be speaking to the progress in using such allocations
Mr Qondi Jali, Chief Director, DMV, responded to the issue of the database, saying that it was indeed central to the Department, and it would be impossible to report to the Minister if this was not sorted out. There were a number of challenges in relation to credibility and security of the database. Many people claimed to be veterans and their claims must be verified. Military veterans were asked to register to check the credibility during 2012/13. A list was issued out indicating the military veterans who were expected to update their information on the database. 57 000 people turned up, but there were 33 000 military veterans who were not part of that 57,000. The figure of 14 000 on the database related to those who had been processed. But there were probably up to 90 000 veterans. The information was dynamic and needed to be constantly verified and updated; the DMV was expected to register all “lost” military veterans right up to the very last, which was likely to take about five years.
There was a Citizen Population Register (CPR list) but some of the veterans listed there were not the ones that DMV was looking for. Some may not be bona fide veterans. By now the number should be up to around 20 000, and the DMV would be constantly working to process and verify raw information.
The Deputy Minister added that it was very difficult to budget when something was open-ended, and agreed with the Members that it was necessary to set time frames. Some people may have passed n and others might no longer be interested in being on the database, having moved on to other sectors or business, but there was a need to speed up the process of verification because there were dangers of manipulation and fraud the longer it was kept open.
A verification panel had been established and it was going around in the provinces. The DMV had spoken to the military associations, particularly those without force numbers, questioning any discrepancies, although it was accepted that some people may have come through after integration or may have been busy with studies.
Adv Nandipha Ntsaluba, Strategic Support, DMV, responded to the questions on the planning and budgeting processes, and use of State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for the IT infrastructure. The first priority was to have a fully functional Department with its own systems. The Department ‘s mandate found expression in the social and economic sectors, and so systems used must be compliant with other organs of state that were mandated to provide services, which was why the DMV had used SITA to ensure that there was migration. There were systems to ensure operability across various organs of state, and it was in the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation to try to get other spheres of government to services closer to military veterans. This was the reason behind the planning for the utilisation of some funding, and in the Medium Term processes there had been arguments to National Treasury for allocations to ensure that IT structures enabled the services. Various elements informed the baseline. A virtual information collection system was development, which articulated the types of indicators to be used.
She noted that whilst this team could not at this stage change the Annual Performance Plan, there was an overarching strategic plan, and DMV would make sure that indicators appeared in the subsequent APPs; there were trends to make this easier.
The allocations from National Treasury were based on specific values, the needs and amounts provided did not correlate, and when the allocation was given it was necessary, during the 2013 process, to look again at the targets, and what the Department was supposed to do. That was why the DMV had been very transparent about the research and targets.
The DMV was strengthening its capability to link strategic planning and strategic budgeting to ensure that there were cleaner plans.
Ms Xolisa Morolo, Chief Director: Health and Wellness, DMV, responded to the issue of health care, and said that it seemed to be suggested that the DMV was actually prioritising private practitioners’ business taking care of military veterans. The South African government healthcare services were over-burdened already. Military veterans had been waiting for several services, including healthcare and they could not be expected to queue up to receive healthcare, which was why the Minister of health had called for National Health Insurance (NHI), which took into account the realities and the needs to share resources between private and public sectors. There were difficulties in laboratory services also. The reason that healthcare for military veterans being provided privately dated back to 2010, when a Ministerial directive was given to assist in giving services to military veterans, and carry out assessments for veteran health care. Many of those needing services were already too sick to use public facilities. There was an initiative to inform people how to access services, issue healthcare cards, and note the disease profile of the veterans to allow them to be referred accordingly and make plans for their future care.
The Department had, in that context, entered into an MOU with the Military Veterans Practitioners Association, given that the service provider until then had indicated that it did not have sufficient capacity to provide support to the DMV. When doing the health assessments, it was found that 48% of military veterans had chronic health problems, which had not been diagnosed, and many, due to their age and condition, had visual problems, or damaged hearing, and were referred to appropriate treatment. This was similar to the current Department of Health initiatives for public / private partnerships. In line with National Treasury requirements, the DMV had grouped together all the services that were related to health care, and these were total estimates for general healthcare services.
The Deputy Minister added that in addition to this partnership arrangement, the DMV had made arrangements to stabilise ill patients through private practitioners before they were transferred to the military hospital services.
Ms Morolo noted that “accessible” services meant those within a 70 km rural, or 20 km urban radius. Military veterans did not generally have money to spend on taxis. In order to avoid the general healthcare services becoming overstretched by catering also for military veterans, a network of credible service providers was established to serve the military veterans, and doctors could be identified in a given area for secondary and tertiary services.
Mr Mandla Feni, Chief Director: Heritage and Memorialisation, Burials and Honour, Department of Military Veterans, clarified that the DMV was not replacing honour services with memorization, but these programmes aligned and policies were being drawn at present. In relation to assistance with burials, he said that the DMV had never refused any member’s application for burial support. The DMV would check with the Military Veterans Association as to which association was involved, and sometimes the DMV would even top up what National Treasury paid out.
Mr Mbulelo Musi, Head: Communications, DMV, responded to the issues on communication, marketing and public perceptions. He agreed that there was a need to strengthen communication, but said that the main hindrance to this in the past had been lack of resources. This had now been sorted out and the DMV should be able to work on it. After the gazetting, the DMV had run a campaign on television, in newspapers, set up a website, and started a process of setting up a call centre, with systems, processes and plans in place. The number of military veterans coming to access services had increased as they were able to know what to find, and where and how to access it. There were some problems still and a lot to be done but DMV had taken on the challenge.
There was also a development and communication strategy framework, which had been quantified and costed, and would be presented upon completion. It was premised on the macro policy of government on communication being developmental, and thus to contain certain elements, including that there should be direct communication, rather than through the mass media, because not all military veterans had access to the mass media, with many not having television or radios or daily papers. The second area of direct communication was through military veterans associations such as SAMVA as reconstituted last year. The eight associations in SAMVA were beginning to help reach out to the military veterans and share with them information on benefits and many other related matters. It was important for DMV to communicate in a language easily understood by the veterans. The Department had mainly been English based. It was now trying to diversify, engaging with Government Communication and Information Services, to agree that language used should be simple and easy to understand, reaching the target audience.
The Department would continue to diversify communication platforms, run campaigns, road shows, and move with the Minister to articulate the vision, inform veterans about their benefits, and hear what they wanted from the DMV. The newly established research units were tasked with analyzing whether the communication was effective and appropriately meeting needs of veterans. The analysis should be completed by the second quarter, and in the third and fourth quarters, the DMV would adopt the final strategy.
He added that the DMV was using other platforms also for research, was using Facebook, You Tube and had its website. To build capacity it was employing the children of veterans in its call centres as they were sensitized to the needs of the callers; their recruitment was not based only on their academic achievements, but also on their empathy, compassion, and ability to understand and relate. They included those with communications, journalism and PR skills.
The DMV was also marketing itself and building the brand, and a team on publications was working on leaflets showing the benefits, which were to be translated into several languages. During the road shows, leaflets would be available in, for instance, English, Zulu, Xhosa and other languages of the areas.
In relation to the public survey, he noted that the Research and Policy Unit was working on the ground to commission the public survey programme, looking at perceptions and thinking of military veterans, so that the DMV could address their expectations. It was intended to have as objective and independent assessment as possible.
Mr Vernon Jacobs, Chief Director, DMV, responded to the issues of catering, entertainment, travel and subsistence. Because the Department engaged with the military veterans on an ongoing basis, including meetings and workshops, the DMV funded the events, but for the benefit of veterans directly. Recently, in response to an opportunity for 101 military veterans to be employed on dams in Mpumalanga, the DMV had to transport and take about 120 people through for orientation programmes with the Department of Water Affairs. The Minister and Deputy Minister were also present on site and the interviews, and the cost for this was shown. The figures may seem to be high, but all traveling, catering and entertainment was listed under one heading and “catering” may not be just food, but venue hire also. He suggested that a further breakdown was maybe needed to show what was operational, and what was a direct service to military veterans. The Department had not yet moved to creating a defined budget responsibility code for the SAMVA costings, but this would appear.
Mr Jacobs noted that the DMV had appointed people in the provinces, including coordinators and assistant coordinators sourcing office space for provincial staff. It is at different levels of success. This was intended to minimise the need for travel by military veterans. It was intended to appoint military veterans themselves to staff the 51 offices under discussion. Currently, all eighteen staff in provincial offices were veterans, with a deliberate check on their qualifications and a strong drive to make sure veterans were appointed. There was collaboration with municipalities and municipal structures and DMV tried to ensure that facilities were accessed at the best value not to reduce benefits available for veterans.
Mr Jacobs reported that the DMV had medals and was committed to honoring APLA founding fathers, but there was a political challenge, and after the SAMVA conference in September the second wing of APLA and other parties launched a court battle about the status of the Department. APLA’s matters were not settled but there was more unity in MK and the DMV was able to go through the awards process. No matter the challenges, DMV would deliver services to all military veterans, although there was a need to tread carefully in relation budgets of the association, as a result of the court case. Veterans would be served in different ways.
With burial support, the targets might not be visible, but DMV did have a database showing the number of families serviced. In the last financial year this was up to 100 and the cost was about r1 million. In this year, assuming that the number of requests doubled because of the promulgation of regulations, the projections were 25 000 and R10 000. Some people had passed on and the Department did not pay any money at the time of the funeral. However, if the veteran was not on the database the DMV would trace through the CPR, and seek the Director General’s approval to lift the name to the data base, then pay the families retrospectively. Burial Payments were made on a retrospectively payment basis.
In relation to people calling to say that veterans had passed on two years ago, the DMV noted that although there was not any legal basis to provide a benefit, there was a burial support policy that did allow for payment. The database would show that, in answer to specific requests. There was funding that could be accessed.
The Appeals Board was not yet in place, but the process to set it up was ongoing. There had been feedback on advertisements, and the Acting Director General was dealing with this. There was an intention to fast track these processes with the executive authority to make sure the structures were in place.
He noted that some veterans were prevented from getting jobs or being registered as peace officers through the security industry, because they had criminal records and the DMV, through the executive authority, was attempting to help military veterans who had served their sentences and fulfilled time requirements to have their records expunged. The dependents of military veterans would not be precluded from accessing benefits, however, if the veteran had a criminal record.
He commented on the suggestions on business development, noting that in March, there were only about five staff dealing with this, but the number of staff, including provincial branches, had risen since then and there would be around 35 staff in place within the next two months. They were working with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), in line with a roll out plan and cooperation and guidelines had been offered by dti. ,what the guidelines require them to do in terms of business management and support and DTI has offered to come on board and are looking at going back in that particular roll out.
Many people walked in to the DMV offices, with some even traveling from KwaZulu Natal, and the Department would put them in touch with provincial coordinators and was trying to identify possible state-owned space for more offices. What military veterans hoped to get from the DMV was a direct cash injection into their pockets and whilst the DMV tried to fund them, it would do so through functions and involving them in the plans.
He noted that the DMV had a number of MOUs and service level agreements in place, and there was engagement at provincial and municipal office levels. The RPL team was engaging with the Universities, f Stellenbosch and of Western Cape, although the costs of the RPL process were still quite high, which limited the numbers that could be done.
The Chairperson asked that any questions remaining unanswered be responded to in writing. He noted that although this was not mentioned, the presentation had not met the requirement of linking to specific government priorities, and this should be addressed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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