Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla on Thursday said the process involving the disbursement of military veterans’ pension benefits will only commence next year.
This comes after Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise and Makwetla addressed the media today regarding the benefits.
According to Makwetla, the department was mandated to disburse the military pension by December 1.
This, he said, was originally communicated by Deputy President David Mabuza.
Makwetla further said the Military Veterans Act of 2011 directed the government to roll out the socio-economic benefits to veterans.
“It is regrettable that the veterans’ pension had not been budgeted for in the previous years since the introduction of the passing of the act,” he said.
He stated that the fundamental principles of the Military Veterans Act emphasised the need to redress the injustices of the past.
“The pension will redress the imbalances of the past and bring to realisation a benefit that was provided for in the act. The process to roll out the pension payout will commence after the lapse of the 30 days after the tabling of the regulations in Parliament,” said Makwetla.
He further explained that through the intervention of the presidential task team, priorities will be given to members of the former non-statutory forces as the main target group to access the benefits.
Meanwhile, Modise indicated that not all veterans will benefit because of the verification period as well as the means test.
Makwetla pointed out that the department will accept applications and process them accordingly through the government’s pension system.
He stated that in the process of implementing the decision, they had been confronted with unavoidable administrative work which resulted in the delay of the pension fund payment.
“One of these included the requirement that the draft pension regulations and pension benefit access forms should be tabled in Parliament first. These were tabled in Parliament in early December, this will legalise the operationalisation of the pension of the military veterans,” he said.
He assured the members of the military veterans that the government remained fully committed to the provision of the pension benefit to military veterans and had begun the necessary administrative processes.
“Government is fully conscious and aware of the financial challenges facing military veterans, particularly in the current economic times, characterised by poor economic growth, joblessness and persistent poverty.”
He said the DMV was working around the clock to ensure that the disbursement of the military veterans pension benefit was implemented as soon as possible.
To avoid further delays, he urged military veterans to register with the Department of Military Veterans on the database in order to qualify for the benefits provided by the department.
They were also urged to apply in person or through registered posts.
The required documents for veterans to register are ID, birth/marriage/partnership certificate, service certificate clearly indicating the force number of the applicant, and the correct residential address on the form.
Makwetla also pointed out that the presidential task team (PTT) had taken a decision that military veterans should be paid the Social Relief of Distress support amount of R1 250 per month to augment their pension payout during the current challenging economic situation.
“This will be a significant improvement on the previous R350 social relief support paid to veterans,” he added.
Makwetla said the department should find alternative ways to implement such support in an effective and equitable manner to ensure that all those eligible benefits.
Furthermore, the DMV highlighted that an amount of R37 million would be made available in the 2022/23 financial year. For the 2023/24 financial year, R102m would be available and R109m for 2025.