DMV on: Quarterly Report; organisational structure; functioning of Appeal Board & amendments to Military Veterans Act and Regulations; with Deputy Minister

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Defence and Military Veterans

21 October 2020
Chairperson: Mr V Xaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) reported that as part of the government’s recovery plan, its annual budget had been reduced by R137 million, from R683.1 million to R546.1 million. In the first quarter, because of the Covid lockdown, total spending had been only R44.6 million, compared to the targeted expenditure of R136.5 million for the quarter.

Members asked how they should respond to military veterans who had been left without food throughout the lockdown. The Department should have been proactive on the health front, because people had needed extra healthcare assistance during this period. The same went for education, as it had continued, although in different forms, but the DMV’s obligations towards education had never changed. They also commented that the report on the provision of housing for veterans had reflected zero, because nothing had been planned.

The Department reported it had worked on its organisational structure. There had been engagement with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and a system had been developed. However, a service provider’s contract had been terminated and that had delayed the process. The Committee questioned the structure of the Department, which had been created in 2010/11. The Act had been passed in 2012, but the structure had not been reviewed since then, despite it having been overtaken by legislation. This was a process the DMV should have undertaken a long time ago, as organisational structures had to be reviewed every five years.

Members said the Department’s indecisiveness was affecting the implementation of their mandate, which was very simple. They could not continue to criticise them -- they needed to self-correct. Members also said that they got complaints on a daily basis from veterans, and it was not acceptable that their issues were not being resolved. They hoped that the Department would now do what it was supposed to do.

Providing feedback on the Appeals Board, the DMV said it had to ensure that there was an indicator in its performance plan about servicing the organs of state that reported to the Department. What had become important was to assist these entities to develop their own planning instruments so that their needs could be costed, and an amount could be agreed upon in terms of strategic budgeting. Drafts of the planning instruments for the Appeals Board had been developed.

Meeting report

Opening comments

The Chairperson said that a decision was taken in the last quarter that the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) would be seen only in the second quarter to take the first quarter performance report as the Committee needed it to take care of critical issues and then report on them, hence this meeting. The fundamental issue was that there was a misalignment between the structure and service delivery model.

The reason the Department was floundering was because the structure was developed ahead of the promulgation of the Act. It was usually the other way around. The Department had 224 posts that it could not justify, but the number had come down. It had then started creating contract posts that amounted to 50% of the personnel and that was untenable. It had to explain why it had so many contract posts, and this would be looked at when it discussed its organisational structure and human resources (HR) plan.

The second concern was the instability caused by large vacancies at the senior management service (SMS) level. Lack of discipline among stuff was also a problem, so targets were not being met. The Department was created to support vulnerable people -- not all of them were, but a significant portion was. Further, it had been returning funds to Treasury, which should happen only after they had been used on everything that they had been dispensed for.

The level of expenditure in the first quarter was not very impressive. The Department could tell the Committee if its performance was improving, and whether it should expect better outcomes.

Mr Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, said the agenda covered matters which had been raised in previous meetings with the Committee. It was an update on the work that the Department was grappling with. Last time, it had been agreed that the Department would report on a quarterly basis on every area which was not satisfactory. The Department had been working on those areas, and the presentation today covered all of them. It was unfortunate that the areas where there was progress were not part of the agenda, and hopefully there would be another meeting soon.

Referring to item 5 on the agenda, he said he noted something that was not properly articulated. The meeting expected the Department to provide annual plan targets of all the entities. His logic was that each entity must be present to present each annual performance plan (APP) target, but he was open to correction.

The Chairperson said the Department was supposed to have a target that spoke to entities. The APP was silent on all these entities that reported to it.

The Deputy Minister said it seemed there was an anomaly in the report, because there were no attachments on the entities that reported to the Department, but they would see how this meeting developed.

DMV first quarter report

Adv Nandipha Ntsaluba, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): Corporate Services, DMV, took the Committee through the presentation. She said it was worth stating that the performance in quarter one had happened against the backdrop of Covid-19. She went over the purpose and mandate of the Department, as well as the approved budget programme structure.

As part of the government’s recovery plan, all organs of state had had to cut their budgets. As a result, the budget of the Department was reduced by R137 million, from R683.1 million to R546.1 million. In quarter one, the total spending was R44.6 million against the targeted expenditure of R136.5 million. The spending of R44.6 million was 8.2% of the targeted spend of 25% of the total annual budget. Of the total spend of R44.6 million, R31.3 million was payment for the cost of employment (CoE), R6.7 million for goods and services, R6.4 million for transfers and subsidies, and only R127 000 was a payment for capital expenditure.


Mr M Shelembe (DA) said that some matters were disturbing if one looked at the socio-economic support, because it seemed nothing was done. This Department had a responsibility for people like patients in hospital, and it should see itself as an essential service. How had it responded to military veterans who were left without food throughout the lockdown? These people were vulnerable and destitute, and it seemed the Department was not doing anything. What other means had been tried to address this situation, or was it left like that?

Ms A Beukes (ANC) said that she wanted to address the targets not achieved socio-economically. What plans did the DMV have to better the lives of those affected? The budget reduction would be affected again because of the Department’s lack of spending, so apart from the lockdown factors, it needed to explain the underspending.

Mr W Mafanya (EFF) said that there were a few things that baffled the mind, because these issues went beyond the period of Covid-19. There had long been no proper accountability, and the Committee had had many fancy presentations that did not yield any positive results. The indictment was on the Committee, because it had been reminded by the protests of military veterans on the lack of delivery by the Department. This presentation had to be taken with a pinch of salt because of past experiences. He would love to recommend that the Committee stick to the mandate of investigating. It could receive these fancy presentations, but if they were not investigated there was no chance that they could be authentic. It had happened in the past.

The Chairperson said some Members were saying the Department should have been extra active during this period. The Committee thought it would come back and say it had had to redesign the programme to intervene in the veterans’ situation. Service delivery meant that the Department would intervene to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on people. In this case, it looked at though it had shut the doors and come back when everyone returned, when it should have been at the forefront. On other targets the Department could have slacked, but on healthcare it should have been proactive because people needed healthcare assistance more during this period.

The same went for education. It had continued, but in different forms, so its obligations towards education had never changed. In this case, it seemed as though the doors were shut. The DMV could have provided services remotely. Why had these essential areas still been reported as under-performed? This had been correctly pointed out as an area of serious concern, and it was not getting any better. One could not hide behind Covid anymore. The fact that there was 8.2% under-expenditure when it should have been at least 25%, was criminal.

DMV’s response

Adv Ntsaluba responded that it could be that in the presentation, the Department had excluded the part on its intervention regarding Covid, which had been in line with section 6 of the Act to make sure that military veterans benefited from all stimuli. As part of the presentation, she would request Mr Mbulelo Musi, Chief Director: Socio-economic Support, to report on what the Department had done to provide essential services. There was an indication of what the Department had done in terms of business continuity. It had a business continuity plan that had been developed in line with the circulars that were distributed at the time by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). There were executive managers in the office, led by the accounting officer, and several engagements were led by the Department of Social Development (DSD).

The Chairperson said that these interactions should be in the report, although he did not know how adding those things would have improved its performance from the level it was at. It would not have helped. Maybe the accounting officer had something better to say.

Lt Gen (Retd) Derrick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi, Acting Director-General (DG), DMV, said the observations made by Members on the impact of Covid 19 were correct. One of the Department’s challenges was the issue of using military hospitals. For those who were on chronic medication, all the Department had to do was to collect the medication for them. From level 5-3, the Department had difficulty referring them to hospitals. Another challenge was the difficulty in communicating with schools. It had also had internal challenges with regard to the business continuity plan. The interpretation of the Public Service Act (PSA) had affected service levels, because the DMV tended to rely on the foot soldiers, so payments were handled by interns who were not coming to work. The level of readiness had not been high. There needed to be negotiations with people for them to come to work. The Occupational Health and Safety Act allowed people to negotiate with their unions when there was no water and electricity. The Department could have done better. If it accepted its role as a Department providing essential services, it could have done better.

The Chairperson said the Committee did not need details on what was done in respect of each of the targets. At what percentage of performance was the DMV in the first quarter? The details would not change the overall performance. However, the Committee took note of the issues he was raising.

In the first quarter, on housing for veterans, his understanding was that the DMV was reflecting zero because there was nothing planned. For a Department that was continuing to exist, how could there be nothing to report in a financial year? There had to be carry over projects that had not been reported in the previous quarter. It was possible to report performance from the previous financial year. The DMV’s planning process required revisiting. Nothing should stop it from planning ahead of the financial year. The information communication technology (ICT) strategy was marked as approved, but there was no evidence that the strategy had been approved. Unless it was a year target, then it should not be shown as green -- it must be yellow.

Adv Ntsaluba said the quarter indicator was the approved indicator for the year. The quarterly target was what was focused on, so in terms of that particular target, it had been achieved. The approved strategy was for the year. She indicated that the performance information had been quality assured regarding its veracity.

Gen Mgwebi said that the Chairperson would have noted that the APP last year had reflected a target of 300 houses for the financial year. The Department had reported to Parliament that it had delivered 543 houses in the last financial year. The delivery of houses was highly dependent on certain variables. Firstly, it worked with the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), and the extent to which the Department could provide houses relied heavily on the extent of the DHS’s readiness. In the quarter under review, the construction industry had been at a standstill, so there could not have been delivery of houses because developers were not on site. In the second quarter, things were able to pick up.

On education, because schools were closed, there had been difficulty communicating with schools and other stakeholders. However, the 4 450 learners who were supported had been able from time to time to get assistance when they were able to communicate. By quarter three, the results had improved.

The Chairperson said he hoped the Committee would see a dramatic improvement in the next quarter for education and housing.

Adv Ntsaluba indicated that the quarter had ended, and there had been improvement. The report would be provided once the verification process had been completed.

The Chairperson commented that the Department had indeed exceeded its target last year, and at the appropriate time, the second quarter would be looked at. The Department had mentioned strategies where it had said it was doing well, so the Committee would not expect excuses when it came to report.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said he had three points to make. Firstly, the report had weaknesses that were going to recur, even in the quarters ahead, because the quality of plans may not have been up to standard. For example, there was the suggestion that the Department must deliver on the plans and work on them as they were being implemented. There were areas of performance where there were no targets in the first quarter.

For housing, in the APP there should have been a target for how many houses the Department wanted to provide. Housing projects moved at different speeds, so when the Department worked out targets it would be a function of which projects would be completed at the time regarding housing for military veterans. Another area was compensation. There were glitches before, and there were disputes with the company that was used by the department to assess military veterans who were injured in the course of their service. There should have been a target of how many of those would have been processed in the first quarter of this year. The plans were not perfect, and they needed to be reworked.

Another point was that there were targets included in the first quarter of benefits or services around which the Department still does not have policies -- for example, transport. The Department did not have a delivery model, and to have put in the plans for this year had been ill-considered. The pensions policy and delivery model were not in place for them to have set targets, and now there was no delivery. This might affect the second quarter as well.

The evaluation of the Department’s annual performance showed there had been an improvement of about 7%, and it was unfortunate that Covid had brought everything to a halt because the ministry wanted to see the trend in the Department’s performance continue. Its socioeconomic performance, which was the programme that was most affected, had to be interrogated closely by management.

Because of COVID, the Department should have done more work, because during the first quarter the country had been under a hard lockdown and the interventions that the government had rolled out to the indigent and needy should have been similarly rolled out effectively to military veterans. The ministry had wanted to ensure that the veterans were provided with food parcels, but that was not part of the budget of the Department. As a result, many military veterans had not received food parcels.

On grants, the Department had come up with the idea of topping up the R350 that the DSD was providing, but because of the poor systems of the DMV, even that money could not be transferred to the Department of Social Development for distribution to military veterans. Over and above that, the DSD had not covered all the veterans, and if the Department had simply given more money to those who had already received, to the exclusion of others, the intention would have been good but the results would have been different.

On health, it was interesting that health targets were not what had been planned for the quarter, whereas it was the area were there had been more reliance on the assistance the Department had now been able to give over a period of time. The DMV was making some difference here, but the targets were low and the Department must take heed to what the Committee had said. Regarding the use of health services during the lockdown, the Command Council had made regulations that prioritised those who were at risk of Covid, and had made it a rule that going to hospitals would largely be a privilege only the infected would enjoy. Other people had stayed away to avoid getting infected. The targets in relation to health had now dropped. The Council of Defence had agreed to relax the policy that said military veterans were the only ones supported in their hospitals, so their families were included. For that, the Department must be commended.

The Chairperson said the comments were helpful, because the Department had targets with no policy and no delivery model. In the next quarter, it would report on their progress in the mentioned areas.  

Progress on organisational structure

Adv Ntsaluba said the Department would be giving a progress report on what it had done. It had worked on the structure, and there had been engagement with the DPSA, where the actual job of developing a system had been done. A challenge was that there was a service provider whose contract had been terminated, and that had delayed the process. The Department had looked within the ministry’s portfolio to see how it could leverage the existing competencies within the arms of service. It got support from the arms of service to use the old model of doing the job evaluation in order to move regarding the structure. It used skills from the Defence Force and the processes that were followed, given that the electronic system that was used was currently non-functional.

The Chairperson asked whether she had completed the organisational structure.

She responded that the Department was in the process, with Defence Force, to ensure that the job evaluations were done.

The Chairperson asked how they could do the job evaluations without the organisational structure.

She responded that the structure had been reviewed.

The Chairperson asked where the structure was.

She said the presentation had not been sent, but the structure had been discussed with the DPSA.

Gen Mgwebi interjected and said it would be factual to say that the DPSA had told the DMV it had to develop its own structure. It had been able to develop two functions in terms of the functional structure, and not the organisational structure. It had taken the first option and directed HR for organisational renewal to phase in the inputs of the management in terms of coming up with an organisational structure. Once one had the structure, one could now discuss the issues of job evaluations and job description, and then say that these were the salary levels.

The Chairperson asked what a functional structure was. The DMV had a structure that was created in 2010/11, and the Act was passed in 2012. The structure had not been reviewed since then, despite it having been overtaken by legislation. This was a process it should have undertaken a long time ago, as structures got reviewed every five years. In this case, it had been nine years.

Gen Mgwebi responded that the issue was that there were functions to be performed, and they had to be grouped. For example, the branch of stakeholder management and the functions to be performed there had to be defined, and that would give one the functions to be performed. This would lead one to the job description and evaluation, and salary levels in each environment. The functions had to be organised in a way that would produce an organogram.

The Chairperson said it was illegal to operate a structure that had not been approved. How had the DMV been allowed to use it? It had to be approved by the Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Public Service and Administration -- was that not so?

Gen Mgwebi responded that it was correct. The route to follow was to present it to the Ministry for approval and to Treasury for funding, but the Department was not there yet.

The Chairperson asked when the process would be completed.

Adv Ntsaluba said the DMV would be able to provide some indication of progress when it presented its quarter two performance report.

The Chairperson asked whether it was true that the DPSA had tasked an official to work with DMV, but it was not cooperative and she had left. He asked for a true reflection of what had happened.

Adv Ntsaluba said a colleague who had been in charge of that could respond.

Mr Baliwinile Kwankwa, Human Resources Planner, DMV, said that he reported to Adv Ntsaluba.

The Chairperson said that as his superior, she should account.

Adv Ntsaluba said there was no evidence that an official had been sent to the Department. It may be true, however, that in previous years an official may have been sent, which would be the meeting that the accounting officer had been referring to.

Gen Mgwebi said that in his engagement the DPSA, they had said that the DMV was not committed, but when one interrogated the facts, they denied it. So, there was something from their side.

The Chairperson said Adv Ntsaluba took an oath when she assumed office, and should therefore speak the truth and nothing but the truth.

She said there had been an engagement in 2016 to assist with the delivery model, and this had been done with the executive. Following this, a structure had been developed around 2017, but what was proposed had been disputed by the Department.

The Chairperson asked who had disputed it.

Adv Ntsaluba responded that it had been presented to management, and there were areas that had been left out in terms of the needs of DMV in respect of the service delivery model in 2017/18. When that happened, the Department had been tasked to engage with the DPSA to ensure concurrence with the proposal and what they had provided. Eventually, there was a lie which had been resuscitated. When General Mgwebi took over, it was the first time that the Department had referred to the task team report to determine what the DMV was supposed to do. That had led to the enhancement of the service delivery model, which had led to the structure that was spoken of here, which had been developed in line with the service delivery model. The functional structure was an interpretation of the facilitation and coordination which had happened when the Department analysed the task team’s report. Flowing from that was the articulation of what a provincial office should look like.

The Chairperson said that in other words, the 2010 structure had been done away with because it was deficient of what was expected by the Act and regulations. Was this correct?

Gen Mgwebi said there had been two options. The Department wanted one option, not two, as it was now.

The Chairperson said the Department should report back in two months on this item.

Further discussion

Mr T Mmutle (ANC) said that that what Gen Mgwebi was saying was that they had still not made a choice with the two options that they had. He supported the proposal that in two months they should make determination and come and report back to Committee. Their indecisiveness was affecting their implementation of their mandate, which was very simple. The Committee could not continue to criticise them -- they should self-correct.

The Chairperson agreed. In the meantime, the DPSA would be called so that the Committee was clear as to whether the DMV was in fact cooperating or not.

Mr S Marais (DA) said they got complaints on a daily basis from veterans, and it was not acceptable that their issues were not being resolved. He hoped the Department would now do what it was supposed to do. It was compromising Members as their representatives.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said that from the ministry side, this area had not been reported and had not been discussed. The information they were sharing had not been evaluated by the ministry. He would like an opportunity to put questions to management to understand what they were sharing now. He was not convinced that in two months’ time there would be sufficient progress for the Committee’s consideration. Organisational structures, not only in government, faced ongoing challenges. Invariably, from one Department to another, there was always one area that they would struggle with. The point was that unfortunately it was one area where management in government did not have the technical skill to deal with organisational development and the designing of its Departments. It was not surprising, because organisational development was a specialised area, which not all managers knew about. He sympathised with them when the language they used made the discussion difficult, because people did not know what they were talking about, so consultants were often used. With its capacity, the Department would struggle with developing this on its own, so to say that this could happen in two months’ time was quite ambitious. They must get external expertise to assist.

The way they talked about the delivery model had to do with how the Department must deliver its services as a national department compared to those departments that had co-competencies with the provinces. This Department’s delivery of services must, in terms of protocols, be tied to provinces as there were no co-competencies in the provinces. The organisational structure was another exercise which must be driven by the policy and strategy of the Department. After it had worked out the structure, it had to do a work study. That was where the DPSA would come in to tell it that for the purposes of realising this work, which posts were required and their remuneration. This whole exercise needed technical skills. The Department must be given more than two months for this.

The Chairperson said there had to be alignment across the department. If the structure was not aligned with the model, they would flounder. The team must come back with the project plan with timelines so the Committee could hold them to it. Would that be unfair?

Deputy Minister Makwetla said the project plan could be shared in two months.

Skills audit

Adv Ntsaluba said that the skills audit was a work in progress. All organs of state submitted workplace skills plan yearly, and the Department had been doing that. The skills audit looked at where the organisation was headed and the skills required. The comprehensive report from the service provider had not been received, save for individualised reports.

The Chairperson said that the contract spelt out the specifications, milestones and payment. Was the DMV saying that the report it received was not what it had paid for?

Adv Ntsaluba responded that when one looked at the milestones in terms of contracting, and followed through regarding payment, the contract had not been followed because the report was never received by the Department.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department had paid.

She responded that the payment had been made.

The Chairperson asked whether the DMV had got what it paid for.

She responded that it had.

The Chairperson asked once more whether the end product had been received.

She responded that it had not, because what had been done was a basic assessment, but not one of competencies. Only step one had been done.

The Chairperson said that in other words, the contractor had not honoured its obligations?

She agreed.

The Chairperson asked whether any steps had been taken against the person who had paid for services that had not been rendered.

She replied that there was a team to look at what had happened, as well as consequence management within the broader framework.

The Chairperson asked why the money paid was insufficient, and whether the managers who had paid for the services had been identified. Had they been reported to the police, because that was their duty, and had any steps been taken to recover the money lost during the process?

Adv Ntsaluba responded that she had indicated that in terms of what was indicated in the contract documents, what had been paid for was not in line with the project plan. The managers who were responsible, in the documents that were referred to, would sign them with a stamp that stated that the services had been rendered. In the office that had signed for the payment, there was a stamp that stated that the services had been rendered, and there was a signature. The approval of payment was on a stamp that was on the document. The person that was responsible for HR at the time was no longer in the Department, and the head of corporate services was not in the Department. There was a committee involving finance, legal and HR, to deal with the situation. The level at which the work had been done had been finalised to a point where there had been an engagement with other stakeholders. The process was still within the three elements to make sure that they finalised the process.

The Chairperson asked what the terms of reference of the Committee were, and when were they supposed to complete this, because the Committee had an interest in the matter.

Adv Ntsaluba said that as this was under oath, would it be possible to provide a response in writing so that she did not miss anything?

The Chairperson said they would come back because there were more questions than answers. The contract specified the scope of work to be achieved and milestones, but the consultant had never completed the task but had still been paid the full amount. The managers had since left service and no case had been registered against this issue. There had been no team to investigate the matter and culpability of the managers, and take the matter to a higher authority. How soon could the Committee get a report on this?

Adv Ntsaluba asked for two months.

The Chairperson said they had to come with full details of the inquiry into the matter.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said that a report would be possible within a month -- it should not take two. The skills audit project was dead in the water, so they would cut their losses and there should be consequences for those involved. It did not look like a skills audit was above the other priorities. The Department had a lack of warm bodies, and that should be handled first. This team had a lot to do with a lot of shortages.

The Chairperson agreed, but nevertheless granted the Department two months. Even though there had been attempts to assist the Department to address the skills gap, it was still shooting itself in the foot and allowing a project as critical as this one to flounder.

Appeals Board

The Chairperson said that this would be a brief segment. The Committee just needed an update on whether the Department had agreed on a working arrangement with the Appeals Board. Firstly, they were complaining bitterly about the lack of cooperation on the part of the Department. Secondly, they had complained that there was no ring-fenced funding of the entity and thirdly, there was inadequate support for the work of the entity.

The Committee had proposed that a budget be ring-fenced so that the Appeals Board knew how much they had. Support should be dedicated so that the person in the office was able to receive documents, process them and attend to the day to day activities of the board, not someone with other responsibilities. The Department should report on the activities of the entity in its annual report. The Department needed to have one or two targets that referred to its support for the entities that reported to it. He asked for a progress report regarding that.

Adv Ntsaluba responded that as the Chairperson had indicated, that there should be a target within the administration that spoke to support. The Department had to make sure that in line with section 6, there was an indicator about servicing the organs of state that report to the Department. What had become important was that the DMV should assist these organs to develop their own planning instruments, because their needs would be reflected in their planning instruments, and those instruments could be costed so that the amount could be agreed on in terms of strategic budgeting. There were drafts of the planning instruments for the Appeals Board that had been developed.

The Chairperson said that they should be provided with the tools of trade.

Adv Ntsaluba responded that she was talking about the planning instruments to inform the funding to fulfil the requirements of section 6 of the Act which needed to spelt out in the planning instruments of that particular entity. This was the work that was taking place to ensure that there were draft planning instruments, so that they accompanied the planning instruments of the organisation and then addressed the strategic budgeting imperatives in terms of costing.

On tools of trade, the accounting officer had situated the organs of state in the accounting officer’s office, and that had assisted them in being provided with a “one-stop-shop” to handle their requirements and for them to be followed through. The office was doing its best to make sure that they were serviced.

Regarding complaints of inadequate support, the Department -- through the accounting officer -- had created a legal unit that was linked to the appeals board. There was a standard operating procedure regarding how the Department dealt with the board.

The Chairperson asked whether this report was available in writing.

Adv Ntsaluba responded that a report was provided, but it just dealt with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the Appeals board.

The Chairperson said that those with whom they had convened would confirm that this had been discussed, and the expectation was that they would receive feedback. Was Adv Ntsaluba not at that meeting?

She responded that she had been.

The Chairperson asked why it was difficult for her to give an update.

She responded that she had given the update in terms of target setting, developing the planning instrument, the establishment of a one-stop-shop, and being situated in accounting officer’s office.

The Chairperson asked how much had been set aside for support during the last financial year?

Adv Ntsaluba said she did not have those details.

Gen Mgwebi said the Chairperson was correct in terms of what had been expected, but the preparation of the report had not indicated that in terms of the strategic plan for the entities, the Department had to provide to the secretariat a plan for the next five years, and reduce that to an annual plan with targets per quarter. What was expected in terms of this report should have been alluding to.

He said the Department had been struggling with suppliers to provide laptops, cell phones and data to the Appeals Board, but the data and routers should have been supplied by last week.

The Chairperson said they were discussing matters that naturally had to happen between the Department and its entities, and the Committee had been specific that it wanted information on support. Could it get this report next week?

Gen Mgwebi said it could be made available tomorrow, because what could be made available to the Appeals Board had been discussed in terms of the budget. Because of the challenges now, if they could develop a costed plan, it could be determined whether they had gone beyond the R700 000 which had been made available to it.

The Chairperson said there had been progress, but the DDG had been all over the place. The report regarding progress should be made available by the end of next week. The report on their activities should be incorporated in the Department’s annual report.

Gen Mgwebi said that the Department would try its best to ensure that it was.

Mr Shelembe said that he could see they were pushing to finish the meeting. More time was needed to engage the Department. It had to know that the Committee was expecting them to deliver on their mandate. If they could not do that, the Committee could not be asking them about problems every day. The people had given it a five-year contract to make sure that veterans were assisted. If the DMV could not deliver, they should say so, and then the Committee would get someone else to do the job.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said that with respect to what was being discussed, it was unfortunate that the DMV had appeared before the Committee considering the difficulties it had with the preparations for this meeting involving the person who was supposed to lead it. Adv Ntsaluba was trying hard to hold the fort and was not privy to some information which the Department should be sharing. He was not sure if there were members of the Appeals Board present, because they had had a meeting with them where all of these matters had been discussed, and he thought the Department would be able to give a progress report around the concerns which had been raised. If not, he was going to say the Appeals Board members who were in attendance could give the report, because at that meeting they had had their own report. It was a pity that the Department’s leadership had been a bit destabilised today.

The Chairperson said the DDG had not been adequately prepared, and she should have mentioned that. He was giving her the benefit of the doubt that in two weeks’ time she would redeem herself.

Progress on amendment to Military Veterans Act

Adv Ntsaluba said the amendment required a lot of areas to be dealt with which required policy consensus. However, as guided by the ministry, there was a process that had been taken to begin developing regulations in terms of section 24 while the organisation was dealing with areas that needed consensus in the implementation of the Act, which would then have to be dealt with, with a policy consensus.

The Chairperson said that the DDG spoke like an activist. She should tell the Committee at what stage the development of the amendments were. If nothing had been done, she should just said so.

Adv Ntsaluba said that to be precise, the Department was consolidating what was required in the amendment in terms of policy or the White Paper. However, the parallel process of reviewing policies had commenced.

The Chairperson asked why they had chosen the process of the White Paper, because they were not dealing with a complex entity. The process had been mentioned at another meeting. Who had proposed it?

Adv Ntsaluba responded that the idea of policy consensus came from the fact that the amendments did not have a founding consensus document that addressed why the Act should be amended, and how that should be carried through. There were various areas in the implementation of the Act that had revealed the need for this, because amending without the consensus would not give a basis for the Department to do costing regarding what it was dealing with. The proposal was coming from the reality that the task team required an overarch, which would enable the organisation to identify possible areas that needed the amendment.

The Chairperson asked whether there was a project plan for this, and if she could share it with clear timelines.

Adv Ntsaluba responded that it was available, and could be shared.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said the last time he had addressed the matter, he had agreed that the Department would present the Committee with a work plan that would govern the processes towards the White Paper. The work plan had been shared with the ministry, and it had emphasised the point that the timelines for the processes had to be shortened. The desirability of the White Paper had been raised at the beginning by the Department, and was raised by the ministerial task team that came up with the interim policy. The interim policy was a product of desktop research and visits to other countries’ best practises. It had still been agreed that a fully-fledged policy around military veterans was an exercise that should be entertained. Now that there were pending amendments, there should be a full discussion on the policy and its appropriateness as things stood. On the basis of the White Paper, the act would be amended appropriately. Regarding the draft regulations, the view was that the two processes should be separated and run parallel. The draft regulations that had been reviewed should be presented to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the Deputy Minister had presented a good case for policy review. Initially, the process of crafting the Act had been very quick and not thoroughly done, so there was a need to review the policy. Unless there was a tangible item before the Committee, it could not hold them accountable. At some point this issue should no longer be an agenda item.

The Chairperson gave his closing remarks.

The meeting was adjourned.

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