The Departments of Human Settlement and Military Veterans plus nine other entities made submissions before the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans regarding their role in the socio-economic upliftment of the military veterans.
The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) revealed it has signed a number of MOUs and service levels agreements (SLAs) with certain government departments to provide military veterans and their dependents with healthcare services; housing, bursaries, employment opportunities and enterprise development. The DMV stated it seeks intervention from the Committee on the construction of health and wellness centres by the Department of Public Works and the acceleration of housing for military veterans by the Department of Human Settlements.
The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) enlightened the Committee it is responsible for the implementation of the housing assistance programme for military veterans and provides funding in the form of the Human Settlements Development Grant and DMV Top-Up Funding. Based on an assessment of registered indigent military veterans, 5 854 houses would be built for indigent military veterans over the three-year MTEF. Current active projects in provinces would yield 1 908 units in 2015/16. 709 units are budgeted for in the 2015/16 Provincial Business Plans.
The Castle Control Board (CCB) briefed the Committee about the challenges associated with the co-ordination of the services and benefits of military veterans and the challenges and risks that may impede the programmes and plans to remedy such problems. The CCB is currently planning to appoint military veterans security and cleaning co-operatives to do the external security of the Castle. The Legacy Project would digitally record the life stories of aging military veterans.
Armscor reported that an Armscor Committee for Military Veterans Support (ACMVS) has been established. Its purpose is to investigate possibilities to co-ordinate and drive initiatives to support military veterans. The registration of the businesses of military veterans on the database of Armscor is in progress in order to identify existing and potential products and services. The 25% BEE requirement exemption is in process, and there is a programme that is looking at the disposal of defence equipment.
ACSA indicated there has been no prior engagement between it and the DMV regarding the socio-economic upliftment of the military veterans. The organisation is willing to engage with the DMV to see the role that ACSA can play. ACSA has applied to the Minister of Finance through the National Treasury for exemption of “set asides” as part of the spend of ACSA for SMMEs in which the military veterans can participate.
PRASA told the Committee the military veterans programmes of PRASA were initiated in 2009 to address job creation, poverty alleviation and empowerment of historically disadvantaged individuals. The military veterans programme is still described as new and PRASA is looking at the legislation thoroughly so as to know how best to implement the programme. The budget remains the impeding factor for it has delayed the employment of 120 military veterans from Cape Town. PRASA is making sure that the screening of military records remains tight and is trying to address the sensitive issue around unions.
Denel updated the Committee that the DMV has approached Denel at different levels for collaboration in supporting the military veterans. Areas of support identified include:
- skills development
- procurement from companies with military veterans shareholding
- bursaries to military veterans or their dependants
- training opportunities
- schools outreach programme
- corporate social investment
- enterprise and supplier development opportunities.
Transnet informed Members that it does not have a formal MOU with the DMV nor programmes that focus on benefits for military veterans or their dependants. As requested by the DMV some military veterans were placed on and completed engineering apprenticeship programmes. The number of military veterans initially identified to participate in the initiative within the school of engineering on various campuses was 102.
On the DMV, CCB and Armscor presentations, Members remarked that the DMV needs to expedite the execution of the MOUs and SLAs because it appears that the DMV is not treating the MOUs and SLAs as a matter of urgency; indicated that the R7 million Armscor allocated for military veterans is not enough; wanted to know how military veterans are going to be involved in the disposal of defence material; and suggested that the CCB should have as many military veterans as possible on its database.
Concerning DHS, Members asked why only two houses were built instead of the planned 500 in the last financial year; why the Committee had not heard anything about military veterans receiving RDP houses; and commented that the R2,2 billion allocated for the military veterans is insufficient.
On Transnet and ACSA, Members said it appears that when entities think of military veterans they think of security guards; stated there have been no agreements that have been signed by the entities, therefore, the Department should prioritise the SLAs and MOUs; and told ACSA they are worried about foreign owned companies manning the key points of the country.
Department of Military Veterans (DMV) presentation
Mr Tsepe Motumi, DMV Director General, briefed the Members on progress regarding the provision of socio-economic support services to military veterans by sister departments, government agencies and relevant organs of civil society. He noted that while service delivery partners have been generally committed to deliver services to military veterans, there have been difficulties and slow progression towards cooperation in some instances. He took the Committee through a list of MOUs and SLAs the DMV has signed with national departments and agencies.
With regard to healthcare, the DMV has signed an MOU with the Department of Defence (SAMHS). The agreement is on cooperation in the provision of healthcare services to military veterans. 13 973 military veterans have been registered in the DMV and SAMHS healthcare systems. The SAMHS forwards invoices periodically to DMV for payment of services rendered. The DMV has signed a contract with Zeal Health Innovations for the provisioning of healthcare services to military veterans at community level.
Concerning educational support, the DMV has signed an MOU with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The agreement is about cooperation in the administration of bursaries to students in tertiary education. 1144 students are currently in the NSFAS DMV database. Another MOU has been signed with the Department of Basic Education. The agreement entails the exemption from payment of fees or reasonable payment when DMV compensates schools for free exemptions. 1 255 learners are currently accessing education support. The third MOU is with the Paramount Group. It is for the provision of bursaries to engineering students. Six students have been granted bursaries and four military veterans are interns at Paramount.
On housing, an MOU and nine SLAs have been entered into with the Department of Human Settlements to build houses for eligible military veterans. A Top-up Fund amounting to R78 million has been transferred to provinces for 1 505 houses during 2013/14. It was noted that there is a minimal sense of urgency in provinces for the construction of houses for military veterans.
On the reduction of unemployment in the military veterans communities, an MOU has been signed with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The agreement details the creation of employment opportunities and enterprise development for military veterans and their dependents. 63 military veterans and dependents have been employed on anti-poaching projects as anti poaching officials. Their status of employment has been changed to that of service providers. A co-operative has been registered and the new status is being entrenched through the assistance of a business mentor.
A second MOU has been signed with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to create employment opportunities and enterprise development for military veterans. 64 military veterans were employed on contract in the Poultry Value Chain project in Silverton. Currently, the programme is employing 29 military veterans and the next project is being explored. A third MOU has been signed with the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation. 110 military veterans gained permanent jobs at Jericho Dam in Standerton. A fourth MOU was signed with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and merSeTA to provide capital for start-up businesses and skills development for military veterans.
Pending MOUs on providing work opportunities and enterprise development for military veterans are with the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, Eastern Cape Premier Office, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Sedibeng District Municipality and Mogale City Municipality.
He concluded that the DMV seeks intervention from the Committee on the construction of health and wellness centres by the Department of Public Works and the acceleration of housing for military veterans by the Department of Human Settlements.
Castle Control Board (CCB) presentation
Mr Calvyn Gilfellan, Chief Executive Officer: CCB, briefed the Committee about the challenges in co-ordinating the services and benefits of military veterans and the risks that may impede the programmes and plans to remedy such problems. He reported that the working relationship between CCB and Provincial Coordinator of DMV and the Office of the Deputy Minister is excellent. However, the military veteran formations approached the CCB without necessarily liaising with the DMV. That proved problematic. Although there is a DMV office on site, it is not conducive to professional and dignified service delivery. The co-ordination between the parties needed to improve.
After an engagement with the Deputy Minister of Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe, in June 2014 about the plight of military veterans, the CCB drafted an MOU with the DMV which outlined the areas of support. The CCB has an audit trail of its engagement with the Department of Public Works to accommodate military veteran companies, co-operatives and individuals in the current Castle renovation project. The CCB hosted financial literacy workshops with 140 military veterans on 11, 12 and 13 November 2014. The CCB suggested that the Military Veterans Filming Company (Didiza Productions) should be accommodated at the Castle.
The CCB is currently planning to appoint military veterans security and cleaning co-operatives to do the external security of the Castle and it is of the view that the Legacy Project should digitally record the life stories of aging military veterans. The CCB is also planning to have a skills development project for women and to have on-going financial education and debt management workshops for military veterans, and ensure children of military veterans are part of the Castle learnership programme.
Mr Gilfellan noted that if military veterans could have a clear understanding of what it is the CCB could deliver, half the battle is won. The CCB is self-funded, thus transfers for specific projects for military veterans are possible, and the Castle premises needed to be reflective of a truly non-racial military veteran community.
Mr Kevin Wakeford, Chief Executive Officer: Armscor, reported that an Armscor Committee for Military Veterans Support (ACMVS) has been established. Its purpose is to investigate possibilities, co-ordinate and drive initiatives to support military veterans. The registration of the businesses of military veterans on the database of Armscor is in progress in order to identify existing and potential products and services. The 25% BEE requirement exemption is in process, and there is a programme that is looking at the disposal of defence equipment.
The Armscor bursary scheme has an intake of five students per annum The apprenticeship programmes takes five students annually, 20 military veterans/dependants get into the generic training programme every year, and five military veterans/dependants are put in a specialised training every year. The social and economic upliftment programme of Armscor is guided by need and it gets allocated a sum of R1, 5 million per annum.
On challenges and enablers, he indicated there is insufficient funding for normal business operations and the transfer of payments for 2015/16 to 2017/18 has been reduced by R318 million. The acquisition and procurement policies are restrictive and inflexible because they are based on existing laws. The defence industry transformation is looking at quality transformation and active participation by women, youth and military veterans.
In its effort to address the challenges, Armscor is currently exploring commercial opportunities for sustainability and has engaged the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) regarding an incubator programme for military veterans. The organisation is busy developing an accredited database. An MOU has been signed with the DMV. The acquisition and procurement policies would be revised in order to incentivise the inclusion of military veterans. During the 2015/16 period a Supplier Open Day would be held to encourage inclusive economic participation of military veterans.
He concluded that contracts are issued and awarded by Armscor in terms of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) and the applicable Treasury Regulations. “Set asides” for military veterans in specific programmes have been proposed but National Treasury exemption is needed.
Department of Human Settlements (DHS) presentation
Mr Mbulelo Tshangana, Acting DHS Director General, said his Department is responsible for the implementation of the housing assistance programme for military veterans and provides funding in the form of the Human Settlements Development Grant and DMV Top-Up Funding.
A series of workshops and consultations culminated in the enactment of the current Military Veterans Act of 2011. The Act provides for the management of military veterans affairs including the provision of housing. In light of the provisions of the Act, an MOU between the Department and DMV was signed in 2012. Among the outcomes of consultations was the specification of a military veteran house.
According to the 2014 regulations for military veterans, a veteran qualifies for housing assistance if:
- he/she is not employed and receives a pension from the State
- is employed and earns less than R125 000 per annum
- does not own a house
- has not previously received a house or other benefits
- has a spouse, and the spouse has not received a house or other housing benefits from the State.
Based on an assessment of registered indigent military veterans, 5 854 houses would be built for indigent military veterans over the three-year MTEF. Current active projects in provinces would yield 1 908 units in 2015/16. 709 units are budgeted for in the 2015/16 provincial business plans.
The DMV database is the only source from which beneficiaries are identified. The first 5 854 applicants have been preloaded on the Housing Subsidy System database and pre-screened. The cost of the house based on the agreed specifications is R188 884. The contribution of the Department is R110 947 and the DMV Top-Up Funding is R77 937, 00. Slides were shown to indicate the number of active housing projects per province.
Regarding the authenticity of the Military Veterans Database, the DMV has undertaken a verification process to clean the database, but the process is very slow. On gaps in the Military Veterans Act, its regulations and MOU, it is recommended that the Military Veterans Act and MOU be amended accordingly. Concerning the participation of military veterans in the Housing Programme, guidelines on participation are being developed in partnership with National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) and other government departments such Public Works and Department of Trade and Industry. On the current funding arrangement in respect of the DMV Top-Up, that is operating outside the Division of Revenue Act so discussions on this have been taking place between DHS, DMV and National Treasury.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) presentation
Mr Sikhumbuzo Macozoma, ACSA Chairperson, indicated there has been no prior engagement between his organisation and the DMV regarding the socio-economic upliftment of military veterans. His organisation is willing to engage with the DMV to see the role that ACSA can play.
He reported that ACSA has recently introduced an Enterprise Development Programme so that small businesses can have access to its supply chain and get funding for various initiatives including business enabling tools. However, there is set criteria that beneficiaries must meet. ACSA is currently developing a five-year programme that includes both Enterprise and Supplier Development. The aim of the programme is to integrate and develop black businesses into the ACSA supply chain. The military veteran service providers are invited to participate in the programme. The services provided by the military veterans would be assessed to see if they are in line with ACSA requirements. Where necessary, they would be recommended for inclusion in the ACSA Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme.
ACSA has applied to the Minister of Finance through National Treasury for exemption of “set asides” as part of the ACSA spend for SMMEs in which the military veterans can participate.
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) presentation
Mr Mosenngwa Mofi, PRASA Chief Executive Officer, told the Committee that PRASA’s military veteran programmes were initiated in 2009 to address job creation, poverty alleviation and empowerment of historically disadvantaged individuals.
PRASA Security engaged in a second absorption process during the 2012/13 financial year that was aimed at creating additional security capacity to create an enabling environment for PRASA to achieve its primary mandate. The military veterans have now been incorporated into PRASA as part of providing security. 926 military veterans have found employment in the security section of PRASA. In addition to formal security training, PRASA identified the need to enlist some of the military veterans on the ABET programme especially individuals that experience challenges in formal learning environments. The ABET programme addresses, literacy, life orientation, numeracy and planning.
The military veterans programme is still described as new and PRASA is looking at the legislation thoroughly so as to know how best to implement the programme. The budget remains the impeding factor because it has delayed the employment of 120 military veterans from Cape Town. PRASA is making sure that the screening of military records remains tight and is trying to address the sensitive issue around unions.
Certain concessions have been discussed with the Board. These include free rides on trains as some have special transport needs or are not working; discounted rates on long distance trains; providing transport for funeral activities and other forms of assistance.
Mr Jan Wessels, Denel Group Chief Operating Officer, said that DMV has approached Denel at different levels for collaboration in supporting the military veterans. Areas of identified support include:
- skills development
- procurement from companies with military veterans shareholding
- bursaries to military veterans or their dependants
- training opportunities
- schools outreach programme
- corporate social investment
- enterprise and supplier development opportunities.
In support of the military veterans, Denel attended DMV workshops with government departments and participated in the Department of Defence and Military Veterans Gender Forum Workshop. The organisation facilitated meetings between its supply chain division with the DMV Director General. Meetings were held between the Denel Group Corporate Communication with DMV Communication and Gender Forum Executive. There were also engagements at other levels.
Denel has requested a database of military veteran-owned companies and co-operatives for opportunities within the supply chain division from DMV. Denel is still awaiting response. Denel received a request for the skills training of 20 dependants of military veterans in 2014. Three apprentice trainees were accepted for three-year training at a total cost of R900 000 x 3 trainees x 3 years (2014-2016). Five trainees were accepted for training from 2015 to 2017 at a total cost of R1, 6 million.
The company FMM & TGT which is owned by military veterans is providing the dismantling status D ammunition to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). It has 35 employees. The enterprise and supplier development programme of Denel Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) is providing training to 20 military veterans, two supervisors and 18 general workers. A contract has been awarded to a military veteran company for the recovery of old ammunition as part of demilitarisation. It is worth R2, 2 million. R1, 9 million worth of machinery was donated to a military veteran company. A sum of R3, 3 million was spent on Sebenza – a freight-forwarding company partly owned by military veterans in 2014.
Ms Disebo Moephuli, Group Executive in the Chief Risk Office: Transnet, informed Members that Transnet does not have a formal MOU with the DMV nor programmes that focus on benefits for military veterans and their dependants. She, however, noted that Transnet has had some engagements with individual military veterans and their association, the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA). Transnet has absorbed former SANDF members in some of its operations and has encouraged military veterans who had approached Transnet management through their association for their children to apply for positions in the Transnet security department.
As requested by the DMV, some military veterans were placed on and completed engineering apprenticeship programmes through the School of Engineering. The number of military veterans that were initially identified to participate in the initiative within the school of engineering on various campuses was 102.
The trades in which the veterans were trained in were mainly in electrical, welding and turner machinist. Some of the veterans that completed the training were successfully appointed within Transnet to either operate as artisans or technical workers.
She concluded that Transnet remains prepared to have further formal engagements with the DMV in line with what is required in the Military Veterans Act. This support could include:
- education, training, and skills development
- facilitation of employment placement
- facilitation of, or advice on business opportunities.
Department of Military Veterans, Castle Control Board and Armscor
Mr S Esau (DA) remarked that the DMV needs to expedite the execution of the MOUs and SLAs. It appears to him that the DMV is not working hard enough to conclude the MOUs and SLAs as a matter of urgency. He suggested that the Castle Control Board should have as many military veterans as possible on its database. He asked Armscor who the beneficiaries are of the 200 co-operatives that are on its database and asked if they are fronted. He asked how the military veterans are going to be involved in the disposal of defence material.
Mr Wakeford replied about the beneficiaries, saying that the co-operatives are for the benefit of the military veterans right from acquisition to procurement. He reported that fronting was detected and it was not only at the level of military veterans. However, now screws have been tightened. He reported that they have held talks with the Department of Trade and Industry with regard to incubation matters. The verification of military veterans on the database would be completed, finalised and treated in strict confidence. On the involvement of military veterans in the disposal of defence material, he said that at present Armscor is dealing with internal challenges, and a plethora of issues would be discussed by the Board. Denel intends to hold a workshop with its international strategic partners and DMV to look at the whole value chain.
Mr Gilfellan reported that the CCB executive authority met last year to discuss radical economic transformation, and there are mechanisms in place to ensure the verification process goes well so as to avoid fronting.
Mr D Maynier (DA) commented that when the Military Veterans Act was promulgated, his party felt it was going to open room for corruption. He asked how the allocation of benefits is going to be made to military veterans of MK and to de facto military veterans.
Mr M Booi (ANC) replied angrily saying the DA speaks as if apartheid private agencies did not benefit corruptly from the old regime. This is a political problem that needs a political solution. It is not that there is unwillingness to improve work on the database but the matter is very complex. The Committee must try find ways of making sure the families of military veterans are benefiting from the programme. The Members should be pragmatic on how they plan to solve the challenges facing the DMV and its entities.
Mr L Mlambo (ANC), referring to comments and questions raised by Mr Maynier, said he felt agitated when “an Honourable Member says unhonourable things”. Mr Maynier is a product of apartheid and he benefited from the old regime. He asked him not to talk badly about MK because what is being discussed is political.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) maintained that there is no truth that the legislation is open to corruption and it is going to benefit MK military veterans only. They only thing he wants to see are steps taken by the DMV and its entities regarding the welfare of the military veterans. He expected a power-point presentation from each entity about the progress each had made with military veterans.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) indicated that most presentations are about what is being done for the military veterans regarding job creation, education and housing. The presentations are running away from economic participation. He wanted to know how the military could get involved in economic transactions. If that cannot be done, that means the legislation needs to be changed. He indicated that the R7 million Armscor has allocated for military veterans is not enough. He wants to see radical economic transformation.
Vice Admiral (ret) Refiloe Mudimu, Armscor Chairperson, informed the Committee that the meeting came too soon for the organisation with regard to radical economic transformation. They have requested a workshop with DMV on how the military veterans could participate in economic transactions. This has necessitated Armscor to move in a meaningful direction on this issue and it is topping the agenda.
Mr Mbinda indicated he is expecting transparency about the military veteran database to ensure all military veterans benefit from the programme irrespective of political affiliation.
The Chairperson asked the DMV Director General if there is a unit in the Department that coordinates the entities and its presentations.
The Director-General replied in the affirmative, stating there is a branch within the Department that is tasked to deal with this matter.
Human Settlement and Denel
Mr Esau asked who would be running the building project of the planned 5 000 houses and why a smaller number are going to be built. He sought clarity on why the Committee had not heard anything about military veterans already receiving RDP houses. He commented that the R2,2 billion allocated for military veterans is insufficient. Specific benefits should first be given to the needy on socio economic grounds and then there must be criteria for the rest like the co-operatives. On beneficiaries identified so far, he felt the list is not comprehensive enough. People need to know about their rights about things they can claim for.
Mr Tshangana replied about RDP houses for military veterans, saying that some military veterans had come forward to the Department. They received RDP houses but there was no military veterans programme at that time.
Mr Bongo stated that municipalities should be accredited for the work they are doing in building houses for the military veterans though there are no SLAs and MOUs with the provinces. On qualification criteria, the Department of Human Settlements needs to advise the Committee on what needs to be done if there are challenges and disparities. Members are not interested in the statistics of how many military veterans are employed but rather about direct economic participation. He suggested the Committee have quarterly meetings with the entities on matters of progress and visits to the areas where things are happening.
On the role of municipalities, Mr Tshangana pointed out that municipalities use different systems in the allocation of the houses, hence the Department is trying to come up with a uniform system. The province gets the budget vote from the National Housing Department and the municipalities act as agents of the provinces. It takes time to register a grant with National Treasury and it has advised the Department on how to allocate the grant to the provinces. Provincial treasuries have been informed about this.
On the qualification criteria, Mr Tshangana indicated that issues like criminal records are taken into consideration. If you earn more than R125 000 per annum you do not qualify. The matter is, however, still discussed at policy level.
Mr Gamede wanted clarity on why only two houses were built instead of the 500 that were supposed to be built in last financial year.
Mr Tshangana replied that work has already started from the money transferred in the last financial year. The allocation for this year has not been used yet.
Mr Gamede said the money voted for by the Parliament should be utilised to the fullest.
Ms N Mnisi (ANC) noted that the Department does not directly deliver on this but it relies on other entities for execution. This means it needs assistance from the Committee.
Mr Mlambo remarked that there are no timeframes for the interventions and for overcoming challenges the Department has noted in its presentation.
Transnet and ACSA presentation
Mr Bongo said it appears that when entities think of military veterans they think of security guards. He indicated that the donation of “containers” by Transnet is undermining the contribution the military veterans played in the liberation of the country. Transnet should sign the MOU and SLA as soon as possible so that there could be an overall participation of military veterans in Transnet.
Mr Mlambo stated that no agreements have been signed by these entities. The Department should prioritise the SLAs and MOUs.
Mr Esau stated that roleplayers should decide how they plan to work together on military veterans especially those in the rural areas. Transnet is employing ex-soldiers who are in need of work. This means these soldiers should be regarded as military veterans. There is a need to look at the database so as not to hamper the progress that needs to be made. The MOUs and SLAs have to be in place as a matter of urgency because money has been allocated and has to be used.
Mr M Mncwango (IFP) said that the Department of Military Veterans should address how it is going to coordinate all this. If capacity is lacking, the Committee should be informed.
Mr Gamede told ACSA he is worried about foreign owned companies manning the key points of the country. That is a matter for concern. He suggested there should be a progress report in three months’ time on what has been discussed today.
The Chairperson stated that the Department should compile such reports. The military veteran database should be completed. The military veterans should benefit from the existing database and not wait for the completion of the new one.
Meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Human Settlements: Housing Assistance Programme for Military Veterans
- Transnet: Transnet’s Role on Veterans
- PRASA presentation on Military Veterans
- Support from Department of Defence to Department of Military Veterans (DMV)
- DMV briefing on implementation of MOUs / SLAs & challenges that impede delivery and services to military veterans
- Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) presentation
- Castle Control Board presentation
- ARMSCOR presentation
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