DEFENCE and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise says her department and the Presidential Task Team (PTT) on Military Veterans remain committed to resolving issues with military veterans following the hostage drama in Irene, Pretoria, recently.
In October, 56 military veterans held Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, against their will at the St George Hotel and Conference Centre.
This followed a meeting with the veterans who had demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza address the disgruntled Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) group – which consists of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and Azanian National Liberation Army.
In a written Parliamentary reply to the ANC’s Thabo Mmutle on what steps Modise’s department have taken to deal with the challenges faced by military veterans, the minister said her department has since November, 2020 conducted “continuous engagements with the bona fide military veterans and their recognised Military Veterans Associates in a bid to resolves issues raised during various interactions with the military veterans.”
Modise said veterans are seeking amendments to the Military Veterans Act.
The department has, among others, developed a transitional model for funding for military veterans associations. “Freedom Park was identified as an institution to assist until the end of the financial year.”
Other issues raised include social relief of distress and immediate payment of the Covid-19 unemployment top-up grant. To this, Modise said the department had to address the matter and wrote to the Department of Social Development regarding 20 000 food parcels for military veterans.
“The payment of the R850 top-up grant continues for the approved beneficiaries of the Sassa R350 beneficiaries. The grant was first approved to be provided for a period of six months, but was subsequently extended for a further three months in the 2020/21 financial year.
“In February 2021, the president promulgated another three months’ extension of the R350 grant. The extension meant that each military veteran who met the criteria, should receive the benefit for 12 months, which amounts to a total of R10 200 each.
“To date 1 058 military veterans have been provided with the benefit totalling R8.9 million, which has been paid to military veterans since the inception of the top-up benefit,” Modise said in response.
On decent housing, the amendment will deal with the inclusion of dependants and widows, as beneficiaries of the housing benefit.