The “first batch” of approved military veterans received their first monthly pension benefit on Wednesday (1 November), 11 months after the revised benefit for old soldiers was made public.
That announcement, by Deputy President Paul Mashatile, came some two years after President Cyril Ramaphosa established a military veterans’ presidential task team (PTT) headed by then deputy president David Mabuza.
All manner of issues ranging from registration to awaiting signature and other administrative processes saw Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise promulgate regulations pertinent to pensions due to military veterans on 6 October, less than a month ago. Included in the “other administrative processes,” Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) heard were the appointment of a military veteran appeal board (MVAB), signing an “addendum to address the administration fee payment” and “resuscitating” the verification process that is the national military veterans’ database. This was followed by the Government Pension Administration Agency (GPAA) admitting and processing “prospective pension beneficiaries” a government statement has it.
Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla, according to the statement, said the first pension pay-out was “the beginning of yet another important milestone in our ongoing efforts to address the plight of military veterans”.
The statement gives no indication of how many correctly registered old soldiers from the former liberation forces and TBVC (Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei) defence forces as well as the then SA Defence Force (SADF) received payment number one. It notes to date, 18 119 military veteran pension benefit applications have been received.
The catalyst leading to the establishment of the veterans PTT was seemingly an October 2021 meeting at the then St George’s Hotel (now the SA National War College) in Irene, Centurion, where the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) group held Modise, Makwetla and then Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, hostage. LSWV called the meeting to discuss grievances around veterans’ benefits and apparently held the trio hostage for some time when it was apparent neither President Cyril Ramaphosa nor his then deputy, Mabuza, would attend. Among others, LSWV demanded a R4.4 million reparation settlement each, medical aid, a housing allowance, government jobs and tertiary education for their children.
According to GPAA Director of Special Pensions, Kabelo Jonathan, military veterans should note payments will be made from the date of approval of applications. Military veterans looking to apply for the pension should submit applications to the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) as follows: [email protected], [email protected], 0800 11 7669.