DMV on: 2020/21 Quarter 2 & 3 performance & finalisation of National Military Veterans database; Follow-up with DMV Appeal Board on its functioning; with Deputy Minister

This premium content has been made freely available

Defence and Military Veterans

10 March 2021
Chairperson: Mr V Xaba (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

21 Oct 2020

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

The Committee met virtually for a briefing by the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on its performance during the second and third quarters of the current financial year. It also received a progress report on the finalisation of the national database of military veterans, and was briefed by the Appeal Board of the DMV on its functioning.

The DMV stated that it had not yet spent much of its budget, and this did not sit well with the Committee. Members said that underspending had been ongoing at the Department for years, but there were military veterans who were not receiving their benefits. The Committee sought answers for what the possible reasons were for this persistent budget underspending. The Deputy Minister suggested that there should be greater collaboration between the DMV and provincial departments to assist military veterans, especially in connection with housing issues. This would give the Department a better reach into the community, and enable it to spend its budget more effectively. 

Members also raised concern about the lack of outreach programmes by the Appeal Board, because they were not visible in remote areas. The Appeal Board responded that its efforts to enhance its communications were inhibited by budget constraints.

A major cause of dissatisfaction among Members was the fact that the Department was taking the Appeal Board to court in order to seek an overturn of its decisions. The Committee emphasised the importance of unity amongst government departments and working together for the betterment of the people, instead of wasting resources through litigation.

Meeting report

The Members considered and adopted outstanding minutes and reports dated 1 and 2 December 2020, 19 and 20 February, and 3 March 2021.

DMV 2nd and 3rd quarter performance report

Mr Sandisa Siyengo, Chief Director, Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DMV), said that during the second quarter, the Department had targeted 14 performance areas, and eight targets were achieved (57%). During the third quarter, it had targeted 13 performance areas, and six targets were achieved (46%).  He described some of the targets by means of graphs, and explained how much had been achieved and where there were shortfalls [see presentation attached for details]

During this period, 27 employees had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Seven positive cases were reported, with one death, and 19 employees had come into contact with a person who had tested positive -- and were quarantined for 10 days. The Department had procured personal protective equipment (PPE) for both the DMV’s headquarters and provincial offices. PPE for only Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) had been received.

The Department had procured a service provider on 22 May 2020 and sanitized its facilities. The provincial offices were also sanitised during the month of July 2020.

The screening of employees or visitors entering the DMV building was taking place daily. The health and wellness officer monitored the register daily. Social distancing signs were placed inside and outside the building. The committee and the security personnel ensured that employees and visitors adhered to social distancing.

The Department had allocated funds to fight or deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, it had spent an amount of R302 777 for internal PPE purposes. 

The Chairperson thanked Mr Siyengo for the presentation, and asked if Ms Nontobeko Mafu, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Empowerment & Stakeholder Management, DMV, would like to add anything before Members asked their questions.

Ms Mafu said that the presentation had covered the slow pace of service delivery in the Department, as well as the underspending. It would be helpful if the Committee met with the DMV and other departments to a better understand as to why there was underspending. The DMV was receiving duplicate invoices, and this consumed time when capturing them, and they had to be checked thoroughly to avoid errors.

DMV had a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and other departments, but the pace was still slow when it came to receiving invoices.


Mr M Shelembe (DA) raised concern on the socio-economic support in the second quarter, which showed that the spending was very low. It was the responsibility of government to feed the people. If the budget was not spent, it meant that someone who was supposed to be assisted was not assisted. He wanted to know what other action had been taken by the Department to make sure that people received something to eat. What was being done to make sure that people knew the reasons for delays in assisting them? Who was responsible for assisting military veterans if they did not receive assistance in terms of the legislation, because the veterans had been complaining about some time and there had been no response from the Department? Was there a specific person tasked with assisting them? He also wanted to know why PPE had not been distributed to all provinces across the country.

Mr W Mafanya (EFF) asked about the number of DMV offices around the country, because most military veterans were going to Pretoria. Commenting on the spending by the Department, he said there was lack of urgency and this was not a good sign, because veterans were ending up dying without receiving their benefits. The DMV should not rely on municipalities to provide housing. Did they have a backup plan to make sure that military veterans received houses? He was also concerned about the delays in invoicing, and said there was something amiss that had to be addressed timeously.

Ms A Beukes (ANC) admitted that there had been some improvement in reaching the targets, but she was concerned about the conditions under which military veterans were living because of the red tape in the Department. She wanted to know if there was someone who would be dedicated to dealing with the grievances of the veterans, and if the Department had any timeframes on when they expected to deal with these grievances.

The Chairperson was pleased with the fact that the situation had changed at the DMV, and that a number of streams had been created to focus on certain areas of weaknesses in the Department. The Committee had mentioned that the DMV was experiencing serious structural and systematic challenges which required urgent attention. The budget had been underspent, with some targets not being met, and the DMV had blamed this on the pandemic. The Chairperson accepted this excuse, but stressed that there was a deeper problem which required attention, because the challenges would continue to be there. The budget cuts were because of the underspending -- the DMV had a history of returning money to the Treasury which had resulted in reduced budgets, but even after the reduced budget, the DMV was still below 50% performance, and it was an indication of underperformance. The Chairperson was hopeful that DMV would work on the issues raised by Members.

He would give the floor to the Deputy Minister, Mr Thabang Makwetla, to respond on the matters raised by Members in the meeting.


Ms Mafu said that DMV had footprints around the country, except in Limpopo, KZN and Gauteng.

On the issue of PPE, the Department of Health had provided PPE for the DMV in all provinces, and one non-governmental organisation (NGO) had provided the decontamination and fumigation services free of charge. All the offices were fully equipped with PPE.

Ms Mafu said that when officials were not responsive, military veterans would escalate the matter to the DG and the Department would go and assist the military veterans. She said that the DG was the main person tasked with dealing on the issues of military veterans and there were periodical meetings of DG’s and other officials that discuss such matters including those of military veterans.

Mr Mbulelo Musi, Chief Director: Socio-economic Support, DMV, said there was not a lack of urgency when it came to issues involving poor military veterans. He reminded Members that it was not a benefit stipulated in section 5 of the Act, because the programme was an intervention meant to deal with the matters of destitute military veterans, and it was being migrated to the Department of Social Development. It had been affected by Covid-19, but the handover process had started. There were initiatives to see how military veterans could be supported, and it had been agreed that the amount would be increased to R1 200.  Systems were in place, and military veterans were being vetted through the SASSA, but the manual system was slow. Progress had been made with the limited resources available. The spending had been more than R5 million of the R11 million allocated, and the number of claimants was increasing. The DMV expected to assist more military veterans.

On the issue of human settlements, Mr Musi said that the dependency on the Human Settlements Departments must change, but the working relationship between the two departments was good. Invoices had to be issued on time, but there were solutions to most of the problems that the DMV had been facing. In KZN, there were still some challenges and a team was dealing with them to ensure that there were strong monitoring and evaluation systems.

With the relaxed restrictions on Covid-19, the DMV hoped that the communication with military veterans would be better so that they could deal with education-related matters. There were also improvements that were taking place, and these had to be strengthened going forward.

Mr Sibongiseni Ndlovu, Chief Financial Officer, (CFO), DMV, said that Mr Musi had explained the situation well to the Committee. He added that there was a new claim from the Gauteng Human Settlements Department for just above R 20 million. The DMV had been carrying huge financial accruals in previous financial years, and with the assistance of the Gauteng Human Settlements Department, there had been progress. It was a norm that there would be a peak in health expenditure during Q3 and Q4, and the same applied to education.

The budget would be channelled to benefits for military veterans.

Mr Ndlovu confirmed that the DMV had received three budgetary cuts. In terms of financial support, it had been battling, but it seemed to be on the recovery path and much would be seen in Q4.

Deputy Minister Makwetla thanked the Committee for their observations on the report by the DMV. He said that the meeting was to help the Department and to keep an eye on the execution of their duties.  The presentation had been a concern because by the end of December, if spending in any department was not above 75%, then one could anticipate underspending because there were not many activities during December and January. At the end of Q3, the DMV spending was below half of its budget and this means that it was a disastrous situation. Management had to keep their eye on the ball, because they needed to make sure that the money was not returned to the Treasury but used for the right reasons. The DMV had a record of underspending. He agreed that there were structural bottlenecks and there was a need for adequate human resources to execute the mandate.

The mention of provincial departments had been made, but the infrastructure of provincial departments was non-existent. Part of the reason why there was depression within communities was because people could not reach the Department. The DMV was very limited in its work because of structural issues, as operational facilities were not always in place for the mandates to be executed. The Q3 report was an indication that towards the end of the year, much improvement had to be expected, because the Presidential task force had been under pressure to respond on matters raised by military veterans last year.

Deputy Minister Makwetla said that they were hoping the Minister would get provincial intervention to help deliver the benefits which were a provincial competence, to assist the DMV to deliver on their mandate. He was of the view that at the moment, the DMV was constrained and at the senior management level there were vacancies which were not yet occupied which had a negative impact on some of the projects, so the advertisement to fill these vacancies was a move in the right direction. He had looked at the report and saw the reasons for underspending involved a lack of courage to identify where the problems were coming from, and management had not been helpful. Some of the benefits were supposed to have been rolled out, because they were not affected by Covid-19.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, and said that he had reflected the current state of affairs at the DMV. It had been helpful that the management had been present at the meeting. He told the DMV team that the concerns raised by the Deputy Minister were valid and known by the Committee. He requested that DMV provide an updated financial statement by 20 April to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked the Committee secretary to draft a letter to the DMV asking for its financial statement.

Finalisation of military veterans’ national database

Mr Kobedi Matsafu, Chief Director: MV Beneficiary, DMV, made the presentation on progress with the finalisation of the national database of military veterans. Data cleansing was the process of fixing or removing incorrect, corrupted, incorrectly formatted, duplicate or incomplete data within a data set. The ultimate aim was to have quality assured data which should be able to answer some important questions.

The DMV had to determine if the data in its possession complied with its own rule book (the Military Veterans Act, Act 18 of 2011) and other rule books external to the DMV, such as the Home Affairs population register to determine the authenticity of Identity numbers. It had to consult the Military Veterans’ Association’s rule books, if any, for confirmation of membership, service certificates and so on, or confirmation of service from the Department of Defence (DoD) for those leaving the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who would like to be registered on the DMV database.

The need to cleanse the DMV database was triggered by a number of factors. These included that included some applicants registered on the database were suspected to be non-military veterans, Reserve Force members registered on the military veteran’s database, incorrect/invalid ID numbers captured on the database, and un-updated contact details, amongst other reasons.

After due diligence there would be a need to account for duplicates, deceased, applicants with Force numbers, registered members who had also submitted documents for verification, and applicants rejected by the verification panel. These factors would change the current numbers, and a new breakdown would be provided.

On the issue of the development of a database management solution, consultations with the state information technology agency (SITA) were in progress, and confirmation of business requirements were currently under way. Project governance structures had been put in place, solutions were to be implemented by November 2021, and the DMV would pay for use of the solution once it was fully developed.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Matsafu, and asked for concluding remarks from Ms Mafu.

Ms Mafu said that the issue of the database was critical for the work that was being done by the DMV because they needed to know that they were giving benefits to the correct people. The Presidential task team had shown support to the DMV, and the challenges were being tackled. SITA was the only service provider that could assist DMV, and maybe the Committee could engage with SITA on the dates that they have given to the DMV. She concluded by saying that the process was promising.

The Chairperson said it as if the DMV was in full control of the process, and what the Department was doing gave hope to the Committee that they were trying their best to assist military veterans. The statistics gave confidence.


Mr Shelembe wanted to know about the online application system, because some of the military veterans may have challenges when it came to completing applications because of their lack of email addresses, or availability of data, amongst others. He wanted to know if there were other alternatives to doing the applications manually.

Were there advertisements to make sure that military veterans were aware of the online application process?

Ms Beukes said that the Committee should engage with SITA, but the DMV should also engage with the Presidential task team.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Beukes for her input and asked for a response from DMV. He said that the Committee would see when it could invite the different departments to appear before the Committee to ensure that everything was going well, and the concerns of military veterans were taken care of.

He said that the SAPS computer system showed all the details of how information was captured, and for the DMV there seemed to be a discrepancy because people would be logged in, but they could not detect from where or who they were. He wanted to know if the DMV was aware of the system being used by SAPS, as it was more secure.

Ms Mafu responded by saying that they were aware of the SAPS system and they were working on getting a secure system.

DMV Appeal Board on its functioning

Mr Cyril Morolo, Member of the Military Veterans Appeal Board, presented a follow-up progress report on the functioning of the Appeal Board (AB) to the Committee.

He said it had to be recognised that military veterans were not a homogenous group. Within the groupings of military veterans there were those that were literate and were well to do, while others were illiterate and destitute. In terms of their background, they came from rural or semi-rural districts and others from urban areas. The common thread in all the above groupings was the fact that they were survivors of most harsh and dangerous situations, when they had participated to rid the country of the inhumane system of apartheid.

Remote working by officials had also incited further mistrust from the military veterans towards the Department. Veterans were now increasingly reaching out to the AB at the slightest suspicion of inefficiency. These cases had since been redirected to the Department through the Socio- Economic Support unit.

On the other hand, the AB depended on the cooperation of the DMV to disburse the funds that were needed by it to carry out its mandate. The complex relationship was of the AB being the “arbiter” on behalf of the military veterans, who had found no joy in the DMV, while the DMV was the approver of the budget of the AB. Such a relationship needed to be handled with sensitivity, with one goal in mind, to implement Section 5 of the Military Veterans Act of 2011 justly and effectively, by all involved.

The Appeal Board office was open to all military veterans from both statutory and non-statutory forces nationally. Reporting on the demographics of the military veterans that approached this office was therefore discouraged, as it may promote a sentiment of bias towards them and their plight.

On the issue of education, Mr Morolo told the Committee that queries for support above R20 000 for basic education were slowly fading out, while queries for support for private school scholars were on an upward rise. Appeals for non-payment of fees dating back to 2018/19 still existed, as children were rejected from attending school and legal action was taken against parents. Communication to Military Veterans regarding outstanding documents was non-existent.

Conducting pre-hearing and hearing sessions for database-related walk-in appeals on virtual platforms served as a major challenge when interrogating the evidence presented before the Board. This had resulted in these cases being postponed. The AB was unable to adjudicate over database verification cases in the absence of the submission of written transcripts/records of proceedings by the Department.

On the issue of budget, the outlined requested budget was 60% less than what had been requested in previous years, due to the cut back on travel by both board members and appellants, and the maximisation of virtual platforms for meetings. The cash-flow projections from the Department for the 2021/22 financial year indicated an allocated amount of R570 000 to the AB. This allocation excluded members’ remuneration.

To date, the AB had shared its budget with the Advisory Council and the Director General under one account, the ‘Management Budget’, which had resulted in combined financial reports. Finance had since confirmed that separate accounts would be created for the entities. This would enable the AB office to track its expenses against its activities.

Mr Morolo said that the way forward required continued involvement in budgeting processes, and members have already received their tools of trade.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Morolo for the presentation, and asked him if he was part of the programme being led by the Deputy President to address some of the challenges being faced by military veterans.

Mr Morolo responded that he was not part of the team, and neither was he aware of such a team.

The Chairperson explained the task of the team, and Mr Morolo said that he knew about the team and that all military veterans knew of the programme.

The Chairperson told Mr Morolo that the Committee was hopeful that the team would be able to help with some of the concerns.


Ms Beukes was concerned about the appeals that were launched in different provinces. She did not think it was because there were no queries, but because members did not know of the procedure. She encouraged the Appeal Board to focus on their outreach programmes. She was also concerned about the fact that the Department was taking the AB to court and the impact on the working relationship, because mediation should be implemented first if there were disagreements, before going to court. She asked about the financial impact on both parties that would arise from the litigation.

She was concerned that children were not going to school because of the fighting between the Department and the AB, because the children were suffering as a result. There had to be an interim solution while the Departments engaged.

The Chairperson referred to Chapter 3 of the Constitution, which deals with cooperative governance and urged the Departments to work together for the betterment of the people because of the inter-governmental relations between all levels of government. Government departments should consult and inform one another on their matters, and should there be disputes, they had to be solved in other ways before approaching a court of law. Courts had also explained what the provision of exhausting all available measures meant, and it did not paint a good picture for government departments to take each other to court. Approaching courts first resulted in wasting taxpayers’ money, because the conflicts could be resolved by other means. The Chairperson was concerned about the reason that the Appeal Board did not have the benefit of what the issues were about. The law said that a response must be given within 30 days, and he asked Ms Mafu why the DMV was not responding on time to the appeals board. He emphasised that the Committee researcher should also look into this matter.

Ms Mafu said that it was her first-time hearing that the Department had taken the AB to court, and she was not aware of the proceedings. The AB had given the Department the impression that their findings were binding. There had been instances where their decisions were contradictory to the Act, and because of this the Department could not reverse such decisions. A court should be approached to set aside the decisions.

She said she was willing to engage the Director General so that there could be interactions between the Department and the appeals board. She also agreed that it was not a good move for government departments to take each other to court.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Mafu for her response.

Mr Morolo responded to Ms Beukes' question, and said that there was no budget to do community outreach programmes and it was a pity, because the military veterans needed such programmes. Many of the veterans did not know how to complete the applications by themselves.

The issue of the Department taking the appeals board to court had been emphasised in different meetings with the Deputy Minister and the acting Director General, and the matter was known to the senior management of the Department. Amended regulations had been signed, and the founding affidavit was signed on 21 February 2021, so he did not understand what was going on. He was also concerned about the fact that Ms Mafu was not aware of the decision by the Department.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mafu to do a follow up on the matter and report back to the Committee, because there was no point in wasting resources by taking another entity to court.

Mr Morolo told the Committee that the Appeal Board would plead that the applications were issued prematurely because the process had not been followed.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mafu if the advisory council contracts had been terminated.

She responded by that they had been terminated, but a short-list had been made, and it was left to the Minister to appoint the advisory council.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: