In detailing the purpose of the Defence and Military Veterans Portfolio Committee to a visiting delegation, a committee members noted that the new Defence Review proposes that the defence committee meets behind closed doors like the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.
The Department of Defence presented its Administration Programme overview, 1st Quarterly Non-Financial and Financial Reports for 2014-2015. The Committee was briefed on the Department’s mandate according to legislation and given an overview on its programmes before concentrating on the Administration Programme, its sub-programmes, budget allocation, achievements and challenges. Achievements included enhancement of oversight over the Department, a clean audit for tangible assets, continued compliance with legislation and effective diplomacy, and improvements in accountability controls. The SANDF’s achievements were similarly outlined, not limited to its participation in national events, international peace efforts and the fight against piracy.
The challenges faced by the Administration Programme generally surrounded its finances. The human resources budget falls short of what is needed making the compensation of staff, rejuvenation of its workforce and complying with national directives a struggle. There are also issues surrounding the accounting for intellectual, intangible property which will result in a qualified audit, and South Africa’s commitment to African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC).
Member’s questions generally focused on the budget. There is a high vacancy rate across the Department which means underspending on the human resources budget – why is more funding needed? How is the Department going to reprioritise in order to fund the training of forces committed to ACIRC? Members commented that the briefing was not comprehensive enough to allow a full overview of the finances of the administration programme.
The Department of Military Veterans presented the challenges it faced, the benefits available to military veterans and a 1st Quarterly Performance Report. Challenges included its reliance on other departments, the slow progress of introducing new IT systems and misalignment in understanding the standards necessary for the implementation of the Military Veterans Act. The Internal Audit findings were still being addressed and there is difficulty in filling vacant funded posts with the appropriate personnel. Mitigation strategies were provided to illustrate how the Department was dealing with such issues. The report indicated underspending.
Specific accomplishments in the provision of services and benefits to military veterans were highlighted, in addition to areas in need of improvement. These included the accessibility of the section 14 manual, the provision of social relief to vulnerable veterans, the support services available to veterans, the promotion of their heritage and assistance in increasing employability amongst others. Performance indicators showed poor performance in DMV in the provision of transport and housing for military veterans.
During the discussion members were especially concerned about the provision of medical aid. Why are the close relatives and dependants of military veterans not eligible for any medical benefits? Clarification on the bursaries available to children of military veterans at private schools and the Department’s relationship with municipalities was requested. How is housing for military veterans approached? Members suggested that some of the responses to challenges within the Department were too broad and asked for a more specific explanation as to the misalignment with the Military Veterans Act (MVA). One member complained about the slow progress in completing the Military Veterans Database which was under 40% complete. More manpower was necessary to complete it. If military veterans were registered on the database they could apply for the benefits, but there are many who are not yet registered. DMV was asked to measure its performance against the budget allocation to see the exact under- and overspending.
Purpose and Functions of the Defence and Military Veterans Portfolio Committee
The Chairperson opened the meeting with a brief description on the purpose and functions of the Committee at the request of the commandant from the defence college in Pretoria for the benefit of the visitors sitting in on the meeting. The visitors included a group of learners from the college, mainly from the Department of Defence, members of the South African police services, correctional services, the African Management Services Company (AMSCO) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in addition to various international fellows.
The Chairperson explained that the Committee is comprised of members from different parties because South Africa is a constitutional democracy. The Committee is charged with overseeing the activities of the Department of Defence (DoD). The DoD has a constitutional mandate to protect the country and its citizens. It is therefore crucial it is sufficiently supported. When the DoD presents its annual performance plan the Committee ensures it is in line with legislation and that it has correctly implemented and budgeted for its programmes. There is always some disagreement between the political parties as to how they believe South Africa should be defended and secured. The Committee do study tours to benchmark on a variety of matters, such as for legislative or operational purposes. The Chairperson then asked members of the Committee to add anything that they felt necessary.
Mr D Maynier (DA) said that the Committee comprised of members from the National Assembly (NA). It conventionally deals with legislation and oversight, particularly of annual and quarterly reports. It is distinct from the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, where the members are from both the NA and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and deals with the operational side of the defence force. One of the challenges for South Africa's fifth democratic Parliament is to exercise effective scrutiny and oversight of the DoD in line with the Constitution. One of the constraints that was frustrating in the last Parliament was the level of transparency in the DoD. This is going to be a central debate when the Committee comes to deal with the chapter of oversight in the Defence Review. Mr Maynier's concern is that the DoD is increasingly becoming a state within a state and is resistant to effective scrutiny and oversight by Parliament. The root cause of difficulty is the disagreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch - in this case the Committee and the DoD - on the principles that ought to apply in a democracy in regard to what kind of information should and should not be disclosed. This is a debate the Committee will have when it deals with the Defence Review. A big concern is that if the policy is adopted and implemented as it is proposed, oversight of the defence force would be effectively terminated. This is because it proposes establishing a new committee under new legislation in Parliament, and the committee would meet behind closed doors. There might a view this is a good thing, but the proposal on which that example is based is on the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. That Committee has its own constraints because it meets exclusively in private and fails to produce reports to Parliament as whole, leading to public distrust of state security services. Ultimately Parliament needs a debate on what the guidelines are and to draw a line on what information is disclosed and what is not.
Mr M Mncwango (IFP) stated that the Committee was a platform for debate on many issues but members were guided by the common objective to see the defence force being true to its constitutional mandate in defending South Africa and its citizens. The Committee is very hard on monitoring the budget itself, scrutinising the way in which is managed on behalf of the country's taxpayers. If the Committee is not happy with a DoD report members are not shy to raise their issues with the leadership of the military or defence as a whole. It is a challenging task but the Committee has a good working relationship with the DoD, the Minister of Defence and the military leadership.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) thanked the defence college for its interest in South Africa's Parliament and democracy. He proposed they stay for the presentation so that they understand what happens in committee meetings.
The Chairperson said he would allow time for questions before the DoD made its presentation.
Questions put to the Committee by the Visitors
Dr Sono from the CSIR asked about the outcome of the Committee's scrutiny of the DoD. What is the expected outcome of the action that must be taken after the Committee has scrutinised the DoD?
A commissioner from Correctional Services asked about the broadened approach to national security. How is the Committee influencing other committees to take their responsibility towards national security? How do they ensure other departments understand their role without compartmentalisation and militarisation of security as it was in the past?
A member of the DoD asked whether the Committee felt the defence force was still operating regionally in terms of peace keeping operations given that economy growth and the DoD's budget was declining. What is the Committee's role in terms of budget allocations?
Another member of the Department said that good policies had focused the defence force to be effective and efficient in undertaking its national mandate. What is the Committee doing to assist the DoD in implementing the landmark documents of the Defence Review and Allotment Plan? A whole government approach is needed rather than a single department plan. In regards to the shrinking of the budget, the Defence Review proposes that for the next 10 years the DoD can undertake its mandate with 2% of the GDP. Is the Committee playing a critical role in assisting the defence to undertake this?
Committee member Mr S Esau (DA) answered the first question on what happens after the Committee has overseen the DoD's activities. In terms of legislation, Parliament implements the Constitution and determines what regulates South Africa. The Committee is an extension of Parliament. The Chair takes the position of the Speaker in the House, the Committee Secretary takes the role of the Secretary of Parliament, which is the table, in giving guidance as to the rules of the House, for example. The committees are given powers of oversight, meaning they can do site visits. The Committee can go and see what happens at any military base. It can ask the various organs subject to scrutiny by the Committee to report and brief them, and it can summon anybody to come to the Committee. It can hold hearings and summon anybody as a witness. It is not a court, but it has the right to investigate and make recommendations. These are directed to the House and those recommendations can become resolutions that are directed to the particular department to implement and respond to. There is then an evaluation and monitoring process on this.
Mr Gamede described the relationship between parliamentary committees. In Parliament there are various clusters, such as defence, correctional services, justice and home affairs. These clusters are bound by the Constitution. In these clusters members discuss issues of common interest. From there a programme is drawn up an adopted by Parliament, so there is interaction with related departments on what can be done.
The Chairperson added that the common interest was security matters for those departments.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) addressed the issue of economy growth as the evolution that had to take place going forward from 1994. Limited resources must be stretched in South Africa - a challenge members of the Committee are trying to grapple with. Regional stability is dependent on the governance of the country. The Committee has to do everything in its power with limited resources to break even.
Mr Maynier said he would deal with the question regarding national security in addition to the one about the Defence Review and the budget. The Committee needed to rethink the broad approach to national security as it is deeply authoritarian and, in his view, conflicting with the Constitution. By adopting a broad view of national security it expands the scope of influence of the state security services. Correctional Services is not a matter of national security, it is a law enforcement and criminal justice matter. Likewise, Land Reform is not about national security. The broad concept has significant democratic consequences for the quality of our democracy. It is highly inefficient because state security services start to take an interest in matters like Land Reform or Economic Development and eventually are put under pressure by political authorities to implement programmes which are not in its technical sphere of competence. For example, The military cannot be held responsible for that state of South Africa's economy. Parliament spent three years debating the concept of national security during deliberations on the Protection of State Information Bill. The result of the debate led to the concept of national security being codified in law. The clause tells us what it is as well as what it is not. The Minister of Defence recently got into deep trouble when she called a press conference to explain how the national security cluster was going to deal with unruly MPs. It’s not the national security structure's responsibility to deal with MPs, it is the Speaker's.
Mr Maynier then moved on to the Defence Review. The document has been tabled in Parliament and must now be considered by Parliament, probably dealt with by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. The challenge is that the Defence Review is not a review, it is a defence policy and one which is not costed. There were 428 stakeholder meetings but not one with the National Treasury. The iron law of public policy making - Parliament cannot do what it cannot fund - has not been taken into account. Ultimately a Defence Review is a complex negotiation between what the DoD wants, and what the DoD can have. Those hard decisions have not materialised in the Defence Review and need to take place. The state of economy means the appropriation to the DoD will not increase to 2% of the GDP. It needs to adopt another approach. It means scaling back the level of ambition, radically restructuring the Department and implementing the 1998 Defence Review. That is the root cause of the problem. In his opinion the Defence Review is dead in the water because of a flawed process.
Ms N Mnisi (ANC) stated that the Committee was an extension of the NA and the NCOP, and members share a common goal of seeing the country move forward.
Mr Gamede wanted to stress the involvement of the DoD within the country and Africa as a whole. South Africa is duty bound by its foreign policy – if issues in Africa and the region are not attended to now it will prove to be a far bigger problem in the future. For those born and bred in South Africa, Land Reform is an issue of national security. South Africa has a responsible government but look at Zimbabwe - anything can happen. If there is a member of parliament who is not aware that unruly or chaotic MPs may lead to issues of national security, it is unfortunate.
Mr Mncwango then spoke about South Africa’s role on the African continent in terms of what role the DoD should be playing in view of budget constraints. South Africa has responsibility through the African Union to assist with the stability of the continent. Africa is plagued by weak governance which is a problem in relation to economy growth of the continent. These things are inter-related. You cannot have economic growth or strong governance in the midst of instability. It is a question of robbing Peter to pay Paul as to South Africa's foreign policy objectives.
Mr B Nesi (ANC) stated that the Committee had discussed and looked to make sure the Department contributed to the National Development Plan (NDP), particularly on the key issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The DoD must address these issues.
Mr Bongo said that there had been a misunderstanding about the Minister of Defence's intervention with unruly MPs. The state has three arms - the legislative, the executive and the judicial which is derived from the Constitution. These three arms are independent in terms of checks and balances so Parliament understands where to draw the line, but they are still dependent on one another. That is why the executive is elected by MPs.
The Chairperson stated that national security was a complex matter which is why the clusters are necessary. A strong economy is a strong military. The NDP must be implemented in an environment of peace and security. That is why the peace keeping function of the defence force is encouraged. As for the budget, the Defence Review is mandate driven and the Committee is bound by the Constitution to show that those mandates are re-sought.
Department of Defence Administration Programme 1st Quarter 2014/15 Performance
Mr Dumisani Dladla, Chief Director of Strategic Management at the DoD, presented to the Committee the DoD's Administration Programme Overview, 1st Quarterly Non-Financial and Financial Reports for FY2014/15. Defence administration is one part of the DoD's programmes that is responsible for the overall administration of the Department. It does so by developing policies and processes, it is a programme through which the accounting officer therefore fulfils his responsibilities as contemplated in the Constitution.
The DoD derives its mandate from the Constitution and various parliamentary acts. There are two legs of the Department that allow that execute the DoD's mandate - the secretariat and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).They execute specific mandates as reflected on the organogram. The DoD has several programmes but the focus of this engagement is on administration. This is divided into sub-programmes including Departmental Direction, Policy and Planning in terms of both military and defence, Financial Services, Human Resources Support Services, Legal Services and Inspection Services. Inspection Services are critical and has two legs - the Inspector General and the Internal Audit Division. Other sub-programmes include Acquisition Services, Communication Services, South African National Defence Force Command and Control, Religious Services, Defence Reserve, Defence Foreign Relations and Defence International Affairs, Office Accommodation and Military Veterans Management.
The DoD's allocation to the administration programme is 11.3% of the total defence budget. This equates to about R4.6 billion of the R42 billion allocated to the Department. The Minister of Defence as the relative executive authority oversees the public entities of ARMSCOR and the Castle Control Board (CCB) in addition to four organs of state - the Department of Military Veterans, the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC), the Office of the Military Ombudsman and the Reserve Force Council.
Achievements of the DoD’s Administration Programme
It is important for Parliament to look at some of the DoD's administration programme's achievements. They are reflective of the entire Department and all of the 8 programmes that the DoD runs. In the key area of governance, civil control and oversight over the Department has been enhanced. There has been an establishment of a framework for national imperatives, which include amongst others the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The MTSF translates into outcomes that inform government departments to ensure they express the mandate of the government in office. Outcome 3 is about making South African citizens feel safe and outcome 5 refers to a skilled workforce. Outcome 11 refers to defence diplomacy and foreign relations and outcome 12 states that, in regard to public administration, all government departments must ensure they uphold public service standards and principles.
Other matters raised by MPs included the issue of compliance with legislation. There are a number of structures put in place to ensure that this happens. Engagements with partners and allies, both on and beyond the continent, ensure that agreements are reached on matters of common interest. Defence diplomacy is the first layer of defence.
The other achievement the administration programme has realised is the clean audit which has not been the case for a number of years. This is by ensuring moveable assets are evaluated and accounted for. In the area of governance, the administration programme has succeeded in providing strategic direction to the Department. For example, the Defence Review seeks to align the Department with the rest of government. In addition to this, improvements have been made in the Department's accountability controls and to that end the quarterly report speaks to the commitment of accountability. These achievements are key in ensuring the Department complies with its mandate.
Achievements of the SANDF
The SANDF's achievements include its participation in a number of national events, such as supporting the national elections. It continues to safeguard South Africa's borders and succeeded in substantially diminishing the illicit movement of weapons, livestock, contraband and illegal foreigners. Its function has been delivered consistently in the last quarter as it has in the past.
A work group was formed to streamline operations between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Air Force (SAAF) in order to conduct joint missions in the airspace. It is important that these activities are aligned to ensure co-operation.
In terms of maritime security strategy the DoD is ensuring that piracy is pushed back in the seas around South Africa and beyond. There are two vessels deployed to fight it as a lot of South Africa's trade comes through the waters of other countries, and therefore those areas must be covered.
Some threats are not only confined to the seas - some are in rivers. The South African Navy participated in an exercise held in Zimbabwe that intended to build a common regional maritime concept to enhance interoperability and the security of inland water bodies.
The SANDF continues to support peace efforts in Sudan and the DRC, being present in both territories to promote this. The Forced Intervention Brigade (FIB) has achieved a lot in the DRC and is an example of the contribution to regional security made by the SANDF.
In relation to capacity, the DoD must maintain its own facilities and has trained a number of people, qualifying 646 members of the Department as artisans. 348 are receiving artisan training at civilian institutions in the hope that when they return to the Department its facilities will be successfully maintained.
Challenges faced by the Administration Programme
There is a disproportionate percentage budget allocation between Human Resource, Operating and Capital. Just over 50% of the DoD's budget is allocated to human resources and this needs to be re-aligned. To remedy this commitment is needed on the level of funding of defence, such as 2% of the GDP that was envisaged in the 2014 Defence Review, which would help the Department address the imbalance. Some members need to be honourably exited through a mechanism that takes into account the realities of what they will do beyond the DoD providing it is properly funded by the relevant authorities.
The DoD requires rejuvenation but funding is an issue. Some members of the Department are reaching a career plateau. Their personal profiles are inconsistent with the job profiles. The modelling of careers is a key issue - the Department must be able to articulate a soldier from entry to exit which requires the establishment of a feeder system.
There is a problem with the decentralised procurement system because the DoD spans the length and breadth of the country, making it difficult to manage. The answer lies in having a robust IT system that will centralise processes across the Department. Another issue is procuring through third parties, which is costly, takes time and sometimes lacks quality. The DoD wants a situation where it is excluded from some of the contracts it has with agencies, allowing a shorter procurement process with better value for money.
There is a challenge in compliance with national directives that state suppliers must be paid within 30 days. A solution proposed by the DoD is creating an inter-divisional work group to investigate practical ways of shortening the cycle.
The DoD is struggling with the state of its infrastructure which adversely impacts the execution of its mandate. To combat this, the Department is engaging with the national treasury to call for devolution of the facilities maintenance function.
There has been an issue in accounting for the management of intellectual property, known as the Intangible Capital Asset (ICA), and the DoD will receive an audit qualification for the financial year 2013-2014 because of insufficient monitoring. Action has been taken to establish structures for ICA management and improve accounting controls.
In the area of the Internal Audit Division (IAD) one of the challenges is capacity. It is a new structure which is not fully funded and therefore cannot fulfil its mandate. It is key in promoting governance in the Department, however, and the minister has highlighted this. Staffing is under way for a number of critical posts. There is complexity of the defence function to apply generic audits and accounting standards so there is engagement with the AG to achieve a common understanding.
There is a challenge to compensate employees because the human resources budget falls short of the Department's needs. The DoD has requested funding from the National Treasury (NT) to address the shortfall, but in the event this is not realised departmental re-prioritisation will be considered. If this is exercised it will be detrimental to other outputs. The DoD as a whole is underfunded which means pressure on all of its programmes, including the FID. Requests have been made to the NT for assistance with funding. The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) is a commitment that South Africa has made to the Africa Union (AU) that we should make forces available to respond to any crisis that takes place in any part of Africa. There must be force preparation for the situation if it arises, but there is a shortfall in funding the training. However, if there is a requirement for forces additional funding will be requested of the NT, where a contingency reserve will be established for deployment costs. The budget will be increased by R1.5 million for 2015-2016 to cater for force preparation but for 2014-2014 the DoD will re-prioritise and any shortfall will be funded by the NT. This is the contribution South Africa needs to make to maintain stability in the region.
The Department has a budget of R42.8 billion and R19.4 billion has been spent as of the 30th June. By the end of the year the DoD expects the budget to be exhausted. The allocation to each programme and economic classification is listed on the presentation.
The Chairperson asked what assistance the DoD wanted from the Committee.
Mr Maynier asked for clarity on the ACIRC. His understanding was that the shortfall for training would be re-prioritised within the budget of the defence force. What is the quantum and how is it going to be financed from the existing budget? How much would the contingency cost in the event of the defence force being committed? What are the precise figures and how will they be financed in the existing 2014-2015 budget?
The Chairperson agreed that financing the project was a challenge because it was not only about South Africa, but the continent as a whole.
Mr Esau commented that he did appreciate the IT system could not be a generic one and it needed customising. However, there are asset management systems that can be quickly adapted and customised to the needs of the SANDF. In relation to asset management, the overseer of any base is responsible for handling the inventories and to update it on the status of the particular equipment. There should be a number of inventories completed already and information available that can minimise the AG's qualification against the department in terms of asset management.
Mr Esau's second point was on underfunding in the DoD's human resources. There is a high vacancy rate across the department which means there is underspending of the funded posts. Therefore the claim that there is a shortfall becomes questionable because when these posts are not filled the money is sitting in an account and not being used. It is a worry because it undermines the performance of the department. Additionally, the presentation contained a breakdown of the finances across all 8 programmes but the brief was only about administration. What the Committee needed to see was the actual spending of the 15 sub-programmes under the defence Administration Programme in order to evaluate the performance of each. Mr Esau consequently did not believe he had been given a comprehensive enough briefing.
Mr M Booi (ANC) commented that he was under the impression it was only a small brief that the Committee was being presented with. The report could not go into depth on everything that was expected.
A DoD representative referred to the Chairperson's question regarding how the Committee could assist the Department. The Committee should note both the achievements and the challenges discussed in the presentation and help with the efforts to negotiate with the NT to obtain more funding. There will be engagement on the subject of the Defence Review with the Department of Public Works to devolve some of the maintenance functions and the Committee can assist in stressing the importance of this to the DoD.
In response to member Esau about the adequacy of the briefing, she stated that the DoD can always provide additional information in writing if there is a requirement to provide spending on sub-programmes.
Mr Mthobisi Zondi addressed the question regarding ACIRC. Every year the South African Army conducts an exercise supported by the SAAF and the military health services. In terms of force preparation, the DoD has redirected the forces identified for ACIRC as the ones that should undergo the exercise. This intended to reduce costs. As the presentation showed, additional funding has been requested of the NT for the following financial year.
Another member of the DoD replied to the comments on asset management and procurement. There is an IT system that could be bought and customised, but the NT imposed a moratorium on the buying of new systems pending the implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Systems (IFMS) project which was managed by the NT and implemented by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). It was supposed to come into effect in 2005 but it has been continually put forward and is now unlikely to happen in the next 3 to 4 years. Since the DoD has tried to obtain an exemption from the moratorium in order to continue implementing an enterprise-wide IT system for the management of both tangible and intangible assets. There are on-going negotiations and wherever the Committee could assist in these matters would be appreciated. In the meantime the DoD has been able to implement some cosmetic changes to its IT system with regards to inventory management. The member is correct and it is for this reason that the DoD has received no qualification on tangible assets, in spite of being crippled by insufficient system integration. The qualification on intangible assets is because the DoD was not previously required to report on it, therefore it has been necessary to go back to the archives to evaluate the intellectual property on each project, value and disclose it. It is a full project on its own and the DoD has implemented an operational centre specifically to deal with it. The challenge of the integrated IT systems remains – ideally the Department needs a totally integrated system to deal with operations and finances so that when the asset is delivered it automatically records to the CFO. Once such a system has been implemented the DoD will be able to control all activities regardless of geographical location.
Presentation by the Department of Military Veterans
Mr Tsepe Motumi, Director-General of the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), began the presentation from slide 12 due to time constraints.
Challenges faced by the DMV
Mr Motumi gave an overview of the issues faced by the DMV. It was challenged in its dependency on other governmental departments, given that it does not have the original mandate for the delivery of the benefits and services available to military veterans (MVs). This delays delivery to military veterans despite having an available budget. There is slow progress on the installation of IT programmes and misalignment in understanding the standards for the implementation of the Military Veterans Act (MVA). During the period under review there is a lack of availability of senior officials and the approval and implementation of departmental prescripts had not been completed. The Audit findings are still being addressed and the DMV has received some extensions to deal with this. Problems also included full compliance with financial regulatory framework and the staffing of vacant funded posts with committed, qualified and competent personnel.
To address these issues the DMV has begun workshops within the provinces to align any misunderstandings. The structure of the Department is to be re-examined to assist capacity building, being created before the legislation governing the DMV was passed by Parliament. Departmental policies will be finalised, approved and implemented. In relation to the oversight of the DMV, there will be involvement of management in crucial issues, a revitalisation of the Bid Adjudication Committee, Bid Evaluation Committee and Budget Control Committee, enhanced internal controls and progress feedback. Consultations will continue with the NT as with other national departments to evaluate how the DMV can increase its capacity.
The Department is responsible for the maintenance of a reliable military veterans database for the provision of benefits. The challenges include the security of the database and the updating of personal information by MVs, as well as the delayed completion of the database itself. The DMV is looking to complete the database by the end of December 2014. Other mitigation factors are speeding up the installation of IT systems and special campaigns to increase the awareness of the Department to MVs.
Benefits Eligible to Military Veterans and Dependants
Mr Motumi outlined the benefits eligible to MVs according to the provisions of the MVA and the 2014-2015 targets, citing a table available on the presentation.
The target for MVs with access to healthcare services per year stood at 7000 whilst progress according to the 1st quarterly report was 4690. The progress of MVs with decent housing and access to transport was not registered because framework had not been completed. A 75% completion target for a credible and secure database containing benefits information currently stands at 39.9%. The target for bursaries provided for MVs and their dependants had been exceeded.
Other yearly targets included 2500 MVs access to relevant training and skills development, reducing unemployment by 2000 MVs, erecting 2 memorial sites, establishing 15 strategic initiatives at national, continental and international level, and 10 private sector companies in partnership with the Department.
1st Quarterly Performance Report (QPR) for the period ending 30th June
Mr Motumi provided an outline of the QPR, beginning with the programme structure of the Department. The first programme is Administration, the second Socio-economic Support and the third Empowerment and Stakeholder Management, each with several sub-programmes that are detailed on the corresponding presentation.
The overall 1st quarterly performance analysis showed that the DMV committed to 22 performance areas over the quarter under review. Of the 22 targeted performance areas reported on, 15 targets were achieved. This constitutes a 68% overall achievement of the targeted performance compared to the performance commitments set for the first quarter. In terms of expenditure, the department spent 8%, or R40 million, of its budget with the variance of R125 million during the quarter.
Mr Motumi highlighted several of the 10 DMV contributions listed as being linked to the priorities of executive authority. With respect to ensuring a fully functional DMV with an independent vote, systems and processes, the Department has tabled and submitted the 2013-2014 annual report to the AG as well as the NT. The section 14 manual has been translated into various languages and further translation into other South African languages is in progress. Files for the Appeal Board and Advisory Council Nominations have been sent to the Director-General for recommendation and the submission for publishing section 15 documents that are automatically available have been sent for Minister’s approval.
On the provision of immediate social relief of distress to the most vulnerable of the military veterans the DMV has been able to intervene in specifically 693 cases of MVs who were unable to access relief from distress. This has been done in collaboration with the Department of Social Development at a national level.
The provision of comprehensive support services to military veterans and their dependants was specified as including the acquisition of a Healthcare and Wellness Centre, ensuring access to health support, honouring and memorialising military veterans, assisting in education, training and skills development and facilitating employment placements or advice on business opportunities. 4690 MVs have been provided with health care support which is an on-going programme beyond the 1st quarter. 645 bursaries were provided to the dependants of MVs and 604 MVs received workplace training. 455 MVs were found work placements in construction and maintenance and there are on-going discussions regarding business opportunities. The DMV has been working towards subsidisation or provision of public transport, housing, burial support and pensions.
On the promotion of military veterans' heritage as well as memorialisation and honouring Mr Motumi focused specifically on the establishment of the 'tomb of the unknown soldier' and a heroes and heroines' acre, setting up an armed struggle memorial or museum, and developing programmes that will profile the heritage vested within MVs amongst others. A project has started to build a national database of existing memorial sites and the ones discussed will be in addition to the ones already in place. There are continued discussions with the Department of Public Works to rejuvenate what was already constructed.
A draft proposal for a functional Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to promote empowerment programmes for MVs has been presented for consideration by the DMV. Part of contributing to reconciliation and nation building is through developing, confirming and deepening the skills base of MVs.
On the implementation of a high impact communication and marketing strategy, the DMV have been able to launch this in partnership with other departments and institutions.
Performance against set targets as per the Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2014/15
Mr Motumi stated that this section of the presentation had been partially lifted from the report. Areas where immediate intervention is needed were flagged up, with both the number of deserving military veterans with access to transport and number of deserving military veterans with decent housing being areas of concern. Other challenges were in setting SPV functional and delivery targets, the number of military veteran memorial sites erected per year and the number of strategic initiatives established at national, continental and international levels.
Overview of Performance on Human Resource Targets and Compliance
The capacity of the department was illustrated through a table showing DMV establishment per salary level in addition to a table showing transformation and equity statistics per branch programme.
The Chairperson stated if the Committee had any questions, the DMV could respond through written reports due to time constraints.
Mr Nesi said he wanted to check on the issue of medical aid for MVs. He understands that their mothers, wives and dependants are not able to receive this medical aid. Why is this and how can it be changed? Most MVs are the breadwinners of their families - there needs to be some clarification on the receipt of aid for their immediate relatives. Regarding their children and schools, some MVs want to get their children into specific schools but what negotiating power does the Department have? Equally, when they have taken their children to private schools, or model C schools, at times they find it very difficult to make the payments. He was unsure who was responsible for paying for the children in this respect. In terms of the burial procedures for the remains of comrades that were being returned to South Africa, what about their children who may return to check for their parents? In regard to its links with the Department of Human Settlements, does the DMV also have links with the municipalities? It is in the municipalities where people are registering for housing. There must be a database of veterans in the localities to enable the DMV to monitor whether the policy is being implemented. When members of the Committee are visiting the areas they would be able to assist the Department with this.
Mr R Ramakatsa (EFF) said an explanation was needed on study payment. It is not only at the level of primary education that there are serious challenges in terms of bursaries given to the children of MVs. Medical aid, specifically in relation to the family, must be looked at. Where is the logic in denying the dependants of MVs medical benefits? Could the Committee see the reasoning behind that decision? In regard to housing, where there have been MoUs they are not working. What is it that the DMV are doing to resolve this matter once and for all? There needs to be an MoU on land availability. What is DMV's approach in providing housing for MVs? There needs to be reintegration of veterans into society.
Mr Esau said the responses given to a number of issues were very broad. For instance the SLAs and MoUs that are important to implement the benefits say most of it is complete. This is not an answer and the Committee would like to know all of it - exactly which ones and were they are. There is a long list of SLAs and MoUs that need to be finalised and the Committee would like to know the status of each and every one, otherwise the benefits cannot be implemented. More detail is needed on the misalignment in terms of the MVA. What exactly is the misalignment in terms of norms and standards? Regarding the Internal Audit Report, are there consequences for the individuals who abused the system? Looking at staffing, what are the posts that are not filled? The Department cannot function optimally with a lack of staff.
Mr Esau is particularly concerned with the issues surrounding the database. The 75% target is unlikely to be completed this year given the current completion level of 39.9%. These measurements are based on 57,000 MVs on the database, but all the other Certified Personnel Registers (CPRs) have not been incorporated despite being available. It is unfair because there is a minority that have been neglected. The Department has taken a prejudiced approach to the issue in not incorporating MVs and is therefore not assisting in reconciling the country. In relation to the benefits that have been issued, there are figures that are inconsistent. The DMV needs to be accurate. Members selected as beneficiaries have been done so according to regulations and criteria. There was a problem before these regulations were finalised by Parliament and a number of reasons given as to why the DMV proceeded with the benefits being issued, but we must understand the longer it is delayed, it restricts certain people from benefits that cannot be implemented retrospectively. If they were properly registered on the database they could apply for these benefits, but there are many who are not yet registered. The Department needs extra manpower to get this database completed. Mr Esau requested that DMV's performance in the 1st quarter is measured against the budget allocation to see the exact under- and overspending.
The Chairperson asked the DMV to prepare its written answers to members' questions by the 16 September so that it could be presented to the Committee the following day.
The meeting was adjourned.
- PC Defence: Department of Defence & Military Veterans 1st Quarter 2014 Performance 1
- PC Defence: Department of Defence & Military Veterans 1st Quarter 2014 Performance 2
- PC Defence: Defence Secretariat briefing on its administration programme (Programme 1) - 1
- PC Defence: Defence Secretariat briefing on its administration programme (Programme 1) - 2
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